Journal of Community Psychology

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Barriers in seeking support: Perspectives of service providers who are survivors of sexual violence

Abstract Research with survivors of sexual violence suggests that most do not seek supportive services from community organizations. The purpose of this study is to understand the unique barriers that service providers, who are also survivors of sexual violence, may experience and how it informs their work with survivors. We conducted semi‐structured interviews with 19 female, trans, and nonbinary survivors of sexual violence who are also employed as domestic violence or sexual assault advocates, community organizers, therapists, health care providers, educators, or substance abuse counselors, and had worked with survivors of sexual violence in their current positions. We coded the data using a multistep strategy derived from grounded theory. Participants indicated sensitivity to community‐level barriers including where services are offered, perceived cost of services, and taking time off of work. Internalized blame, shame, minimization of their experiences, and trauma were also mentioned as significant barriers for themselves and impacted their work with survivors. Our findings suggest a need for trauma‐informed intervention in community practice and policy.

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