Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Rape victims-Psychology, Blame, Blaming the victim, Feminism, Psychodynamic psychotherapy, Klein, Melanie, Self-blame, Sexual violence, Violence against women, Survivors, Negative social responses, Victim-blaming, Psychodynamic, Theoretical


Survivors of sexual violence often blame themselves for harms committed against them, echoing the negative responses they receive from others upon disclosure. While it appears that the hostile social climate surrounding sexual violence disclosure contributes to self-blame, the mechanism by which negative responses exert this pernicious influence has not been sufficiently articulated in prior research. Responding to this deficit, this theoretical investigation addresses three questions: 1) What is the psychic mechanism by which negative social responses engender self-blame among survivors of sexual violence? 2) What social factors explain why this mechanism is activated around sexual violence disclosure? 3) What are the implications for social work practice? To address these questions, this study synthesizes key concepts from Kleinian developmental theory and post-structural feminist theory to examine the contribution of negative social responses to self-blame among survivors of sexual violence, with specific attention to the psychic and social factors underlying negative social responses and self-blame. Implications for clinical work with individual survivors of sexual violence and broader prevention efforts are explored




ii, 74 pages. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, 2015. Includes bibliographical references (pages 66-74)

Limited Access until August 2020