Experience and persistence of campus sexual assault investigators
Duke, Jonathan Richard
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The 2011 Dear Colleague Letter (U.S. Department of Education, 2011) sparked a change in how staff in higher education managed sexual misconduct cases. In many institutions student affairs trained professionals became campus sexual assault investigators. Most investigators entered the new role with little or no training in understanding their response to secondary trauma. This phenomenological study focused on the experience of nine student affairs trained professionals in a campus sexual assault investigator role, and how those professionals experienced their response to secondary trauma. The researcher used a framework of vicarious trauma to understand the participants’ responses to secondary trauma, how their various training programs prepared them to understand their response, if at all, and how they persisted as investigators. The results of the study include suggestions for preparing professionals exposed to secondary trauma, ways to support professionals experience vicarious trauma or other secondary traumatic responses, and an understanding of a cycle of self-care for campus sexual assault investigators.