Catalysts and rationales for reporting staff sexual misconduct to UK higher education institutions

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The majority of research on reporting of sexual violence and harassment has focused on reasons why women don’t report their experiences rather than examining why they do. This article takes this discussion into the higher education setting, drawing on interviews with 16 students and early career researchers in the UK who considered or attempted to report staff sexual misconduct to their institution and analyzing their motivations for doing so. The motivations are broken down into two aspects: the immediate catalysts that triggered the report or disclosure, and the deeper rationales for why interviewees made this decision. Separating catalysts and rationales for reporting in this way allows different levels of decision-making over time to become clearer. Interviewees’ catalysts for reporting included leaving their institution, needing an extension on an assignment, protecting their own physical safety, or being validated by a third party. By contrast, the main rationale that interviewees gave for trying to report staff sexual misconduct was to prevent other women being targeted. Further rationales identified were fighting injustice and reporting for academic or career-related reasons. Higher education institutions’ policies and practices in this area need to take into account these different levels of decision-making around disclosure and reporting.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-60
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Gender Based Violence
Issue number1
Early online date17 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2022

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  • Sexual misconduct
  • reporting
  • sexual violence
  • higher education

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