Master of Social Work
School for Social Work
Sexual abuse victims-Counseling of, Women college students-Abuse of, Peer counseling of students, Hotlines (Counseling), Sexual assault, Peer support, Sexual violence, Colleges/Universities, Hotlines, Advocacy
This study examines the self-perceived benefits and challenges to college students in their role as peer supporters for survivors of campus sexual violence. The study identifies emotional, educational, professional, and social benefits and challenges experienced by peer supporters, as well as strategies used by students to mitigate challenges. The study is based on the perspectives of 11 college students who offer peer support through on-campus programs. Data was gathered through semi-structured telephone interviews.
Major benefits included positive emotions (fulfillment, sense of purpose, empowerment), influence on career paths and opportunities, a sense of community, improved interpersonal skills, and increased social capital. Common challenges included burnout, vicarious trauma, conflict with administrators, intragroup conflict, work-school-life balance, blurred boundaries, and the burden of “knowing too much.” Students showed resilience, creativity, and persistence in developing problem-solving strategies. Social workers who supervise or interact with these programs can benefit from deepening their understanding of students’ experiences.
Levenson, Zoe Amanda, "Benefits and challenges of offering peer support to student survivors of campus sexual violence" (2017). Masters Thesis, Smith College, Northampton, MA.