Sweep it under the rug: The stronghold of surname in response to sexual assault in frontierland

April Terry, Fort Hays State University

Description

Previous studies have found that neighborhoods with high crime and poverty, combined with low collective efficacy, create an environment that encourages cultural norms around gender-based violence. Categorized as coercive sexual environments (CSEs), such conditions are especially harmful to girls and young women. To date, all studies on CSEs have focused on urban communities. The current study sought out the presence of CS Es within rural locations. After conducting interviews with incarcerated girls and women, as well as community partners (e.g., probation officers, treatment providers, and judges), preliminary findings suggest that the same model is not sufficient when addressing gender-based crimes in non-metropolitan areas. Some rural communities actively ignore certain sexual assaults, primarily as a mechanism to protect the family name. Most of these frontierlands are devoid of high crime rates and poverty, and exert a sense of high collective efficacy; yet, the mentality of {[sweep it under the rug" appears to be a strong driving force in masking gender-based violence. Community partners report that broader cultural norms support, and even encourage, underreporting of crime, victim-blaming, and disregard of survivor support. These findings suggest that CSEs present differently in rural communities and that high collective efficacy may actually serve to undermine the community's willingness to seek justice for victims.

 

Sweep it under the rug: The stronghold of surname in response to sexual assault in frontierland

Previous studies have found that neighborhoods with high crime and poverty, combined with low collective efficacy, create an environment that encourages cultural norms around gender-based violence. Categorized as coercive sexual environments (CSEs), such conditions are especially harmful to girls and young women. To date, all studies on CSEs have focused on urban communities. The current study sought out the presence of CS Es within rural locations. After conducting interviews with incarcerated girls and women, as well as community partners (e.g., probation officers, treatment providers, and judges), preliminary findings suggest that the same model is not sufficient when addressing gender-based crimes in non-metropolitan areas. Some rural communities actively ignore certain sexual assaults, primarily as a mechanism to protect the family name. Most of these frontierlands are devoid of high crime rates and poverty, and exert a sense of high collective efficacy; yet, the mentality of {[sweep it under the rug" appears to be a strong driving force in masking gender-based violence. Community partners report that broader cultural norms support, and even encourage, underreporting of crime, victim-blaming, and disregard of survivor support. These findings suggest that CSEs present differently in rural communities and that high collective efficacy may actually serve to undermine the community's willingness to seek justice for victims.