Date of Paper


Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)


Social Work

First Advisor

Katharine Hill


Social Work


Sexual assault is a heinous crime that plagues individuals, families, and communities. The stigma associated with this crime often prevents those who are victimized, from telling anyone about these occurrences. Although both men and women, regardless of demographics, are sexually assaulted, the experiences of African American women were of particular interest to the researcher. African American survivors face cultural and societal pressures, which significantly inhibit them from breaking the silence after being assaulted. In response, the researcher investigated the following question: What empowers African American women to speak up after their sexual assault? This was a qualitative study; participants were interviewed using a semi-structured method. The sample for this study was identified as a non-probability, judgment, and snowball sample. Three different populations were interviewed to gain a holistic view on this topic: African American survivors, African American professionals/community advocates, and Non-African American professionals/community advocates. Three participants were included in this study. Respondent 1 (R1) was a White professional, Respondent 2 (R2) was an African American survivor, and Respondent 3 (R3) was an African American survivor and community advocate. It was discovered that the presence of social support and proper education about sexual assault are key components that can reduce stigma, liberate survivors, and empower African American women to speak up about being sexually assaulted. There are limitations to these findings due to having a non-representative population, non-probability sampling method, and small sample size. However, with more research on this topic, the implications can provide a guide for prevention programs and outreach within the African American community.

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