How a Sex-Assault Researcher Persevered Against University Resistance

October 14, 2014 / Phil Lesch

The Chronicle of Higher Education
October 14th, 2014

The numbers, though not surprising at this point, were still distressing. A survey of nearly 1,000 students at the University of Oregon, released this month, found that 10 percent of women had been raped and more than a third had experienced at least one nonconsensual sexual encounter. Troubling, too, was the finding that nine out of 10 victims never reported their assaults. Such statistics reveal a situation on college campuses that President Obama recently called "an affront to our basic humanity."

The researcher behind that survey is Jennifer J. Freyd, a professor of psychology at Oregon. Ms. Freyd’s work on "betrayal trauma," a term she coined in the early 1990s, has attracted increased interest from policy makers in recent years. She has twice been invited to the White House to take part in discussions about campus sexual assault, and not long ago she met with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, who has been outspoken about harassment she’s suffered on Capitol Hill.

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