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Victims are Doing it for Themselves: Examining the Move from Victim to Advocate

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Title: Victims are Doing it for Themselves: Examining the Move from Victim to Advocate
Author: Benchimol, Guila
Department: Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Program: Sociology
Advisor: Dawson, Myrna
Abstract: Victims and survivors of sexual violence often lead the fight against sexual violence and may see themselves, or be perceived by others, as activists or advocates. However, the experiences involved in the move from victim and survivor to advocate and activist have yet to be studied. Therefore, this study asks: How do victims of sexual violence become anti-sexual violence advocates? Drawing upon labeling and feminist standpoint theories, this thesis examines the parallels between primary, secondary, and tertiary deviance (Lemert 1951; Kitsuse 1980) and primary, secondary, and tertiary victimization following sexual violence (Kenney 2002). Tertiary deviance, in which those who have been shamed, silenced, and marginalized demand recognition and rights, can explain victims’ move to advocacy (Kitsuse 1980; Kenney 2002). Furthermore, feminist standpoint theory explains how victims of sexual violence have been silenced and stigmatized and how they use their agency to resist primary and secondary victimization and stigmatization (Harding 1987; Harding 1991; Riessman 2000a). Narrative interviews captured participants’ experiences of victimization, their disclosures and reactions to these disclosures, and their subsequent involvement in advocacy or activism. The study found that participants became advocates and activists through five main processes rather than a single event and that primary and secondary victimization are linked to their advocacy involvement in many important ways. Many continue to work through their victimization experiences as they advocate. Future research should expand on the concept of tertiary victimization.
Date: 2019-01-16
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