The Role of Sex Work Stigma in Victim Blaming and Empathy of Sexual Assault Survivors

This research article was published in the journal of Sexuality Research and Social Policy. The full text can be read here.

 

This research study, by Dr. Eric Sprankle and SWOP-USA board member, Katie Bloomquist looks at how changing whether a sexual assault victim was a sex worker or non-sex worker affects empathy for the victim, as well as victim-blaming.

 

In the study, 197 Midwestern U.S. undergraduate students (mainly white, heterosexual cisgender women) read the same newspaper article reporting a sexual assault. In the article, the victim’s identity was modified, and the victim was either a sex worker, prostitute, social worker, or no title (simply woman).

 

After reading the article, participants filled out a survey to measure their empathy for the victim and blaming of the victim and perpetrator, called a Victim Empathy Scale. They also filled out a survey to gauge whether the article had emotionally affected them, called a Positive and Negative Affective Schedule, or PANAS.

 

The study found that respondents were less likely to empathize with, and slightly more likely to victim-blame when the individual had a sex worker identity.

 

A community research summary of this paper can be viewed here. 

 

 

 

 

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