Coping and Sexual Harassment: How Victims Cope across Multiple Settings

Jennifer A. Scarduzio, Sarah E. Sheff, Mathew Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations

Abstract

The ways sexual harassment occurs both online and in face-to-face settings has become more complicated. Sexual harassment that occurs in cyberspace or online sexual harassment adds complexity to the experiences of victims, current research understandings, and the legal dimensions of this phenomenon. Social networking sites (SNS) are a type of social media that offer unique opportunities to users and sometimes the communication that occurs on SNS can cross the line from flirtation into online sexual harassment. Victims of sexual harassment employ communicative strategies such as coping to make sense of their experiences of sexual harassment. The current study qualitatively examined problem-focused, active emotion-focused, and passive emotion-focused coping strategies employed by sexual harassment victims across multiple settings. We conducted 26 in-depth interviews with victims that had experienced sexual harassment across multiple settings (e.g., face-to-face and SNS). The findings present 16 types of coping strategies—five problem-focused, five active emotion-focused, and six passive emotion-focused. The victims used an average of three types of coping strategies during their experiences. Theoretical implications extend research on passive emotion-focused coping strategies by discussing powerlessness and how victims blame other victims. Furthermore, theoretically the findings reveal that coping is a complex, cyclical process and that victims shift among types of coping strategies over the course of their experience. Practical implications are offered for victims and for SNS sites.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)327-340
Number of pages14
JournalArchives of Sexual Behavior
Volume47
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.

Keywords

  • Active emotion-focused coping
  • Online sexual harassment
  • Passive emotion-focused coping
  • Problem-focused coping
  • Sexual harassment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • General Psychology

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