A socioecological model of rape survivors' decisions to aid in case prosecution

Mary C. Anders, F. Scott Christopher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


The purpose of our study was to identify factors underlying rape survivors' post-assault prosecution decisions by testing a decision model that included the complex relations between the multiple social ecological systems within which rape survivors are embedded. We coded 440 police rape cases for characteristics of the assault and characteristics of the rape survivor congruent with rape mythology. In addition, support from friends/family members, social service providers, and police were assessed. Path analysis, using Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) that included a bias-corrected bootstrap resampling procedure, supported our model. As hypothesized, rape survivors' final decisions to aid in case prosecution were predicted by support from the three social ecologies: family/friends, social service providers, and police. Social service provider support, in turn, was predicted by assault characteristics congruent with rape mythology, whereas family/friend and police support were significantly predicted by the interaction between assault and survivor characteristics congruent with rape mythology. Our results show the value of applying a socioecological framework to help understand factors that influence rape survivors' prosecution decisions. Moreover, our results highlight the need to challenge commonly held views of "typical" rape survivors and the "typical" circumstances surrounding their assault.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)92-106
Number of pages15
JournalPsychology of Women Quarterly
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2010


  • Case prosecution
  • Criminal justice
  • Law enforcement
  • Rape
  • Sexual assault
  • Social support
  • Stereotyped attitudes
  • Victimization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • General Psychology


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