Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Criminology and Criminal Justice

First Advisor

Dr. Tara N. Richards


Sexual assault, a severely underreported crime in the US, is hindered by negative interactions between victims and criminal justice system actors’, contributing to high case attrition rates. Accordingly, understanding factors impacting case outcomes, such as criminal justice system actors’ perceptions of the victim and decision-making, is crucial. Victim self-protective behaviors—which are the range of actions, reactions, or strategies employed by individuals to mitigate or prevent harm from a crime, such as sexual assault—lack sufficient research on their impact on case processing. To fill this gap, this study analyzed 469 reported sexual assault cases, employing bivariate and multivariate analyses to assess predictive factors. Findings offer insights into sexual assault case processing, guiding future research and policy recommendations to enhance decision-making, and reducing case attrition in sexual assault cases.


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