Tuesday, December 10, 2019

STIP Student Sierra Strickler Researches the Impact of Sexual Assault

I was inspired to do this research project primarily because of the events surrounding Brett Kavanaugh and the #MeToo movement, as well as by the sexual harassment and violence that all women are familiar with in some way. Throughout my life, I have seen people I know to be affected by sexual assault; one particular friend of mine even had to drop out of college to escape her two attackers, was brave enough to take them to court, and then lost her case as well as all of her money. This friend, as well as too many other friends, strangers, and stories, all motivated me to be outspoken about the issues related to sexual assault and to join the Peer Advocate Program at George Mason's Student Support and Advocacy Center. There I have had the honor to work to promote positive change surrounding sexual assault, such as providing safe spaces for survivors to come forward and providing education about safe sex and consent to our students. When I saw the beginnings of the #MeToo movement, I was in awe of the bravery of the people who came forward to share their stories. Unfortunately, many were met with backlash and hatred, even from women. I couldn’t understand how any woman (or any person, really) could be against people speaking out against assault or be indifferent, even supportive of people who commit sexual assault.

This research also fits into my personal goals, as I want to delve deeper into research, go to graduate school, and earn a doctorate in psychology. I’m not sure what I want to focus on in the future, but this project has been incredibly interesting and gratifying. I’ve learned a lot from this research that I can apply to whatever I end up doing.

So far, most of my time has been spent doing literature reviews for various purposes: background knowledge, reasoning to help form hypotheses, and to find pre-existing measures to use. During this term, I discovered how difficult it can be to find certain literature even though you know that it’s out there. Experimenting with different keywords and search features is vital!