Informed Consent

INFORMED CONSENT FOR Disclosing Sexual Assault Primary Investigators: Bridget Welch, Ph.D. Department of Sociology and Anthropology Morgan Hall 403 309-298-2418 Craig Tollini, Ph.D. Department of Sociology and Anthropology Morgan Hall 417A 309-298-1265
The purpose of this study is to better understand how disclosure of sexual assault and the reactions of those told, affect sexual assault survivors’ psychological outcomes, sense of re-traumatization, and willingness to continue the disclosure process.

This study has several parts (described further below). The purpose of this part of the study (this survey) is to see if you qualify for further participation. We are looking for female students, at least 18, have been sexually assaulted in Macomb area while enrolled as a student, and have disclosed experience to at least one other. If you qualify for further participation, your answers on the scales included in this survey will provide information for your first interview.

If you do not qualify or chose to participate in the larger study, your answers to the survey will help us to better understand how people decide who to tell about stressful life events, why people choose to tell or not tell others, and if these choices affect how people think, feel, and behave. The knowledge gained from this study may help us better understand the factors that influence the development of social support networks after a stressful life event.

We are interested in how disclosure networks (the connections between people who learn about an individual’s sexual assault) affect your eventual outcomes. Therefore, we will be asking you about whom you told about your assault and how they reacted. We also want to talk to the people you told about how they felt and reacted when you talked to them about your assault. Finally, we would also like to survey anyone they told about your assault. For example, if you talked to your Mom about your assault, we will ask your Mom (with your permission) if we can interview her. If your Mom tells us that she talked to her old high school friend about your assault, we will ask the old high school friend to take a survey about their conversations with your Mom.

In order to get permission to talk to the people you told (e.g. friends, councilors, police officers, family members, health officials), we will ask you to sign a release of information giving us permission to talk to each of those people. We will also ask you to sign a HIPPA authorization release form that will allow us to talk to health professionals (e.g. doctors or sexual assault nurse examiner) about what you disclosed to them about your sexual assault and their knowledge about your mental, emotional and physical state when they met with you. We will not be asking for copies of your records. Instead, we will be asking the health professionals to discuss their interactions with you about your assault. Health professionals may choose to review your records to refresh their memory before speaking with us. However, we will never directly look at your records or make copies of them. Therefore, we will not talk to anyone without your prior written consent. With that in mind, all the information you provide will be kept in the strictest of confidence and will not be available to anyone other than the research team.

It is important for you to know that there will be study information that has your name on it. This includes: your answers to surveys, transcriptions of the interviews you have with researchers, your disclosure partner’s surveys and interviews, and all other information related to the people who know about your assault (e.g. the survey from your Mom’s friend will be kept with your information as it relates to your interview). We will keep all of this information (taped interviews, transcriptions, questionnaires, and informed consent documents) stored in a locked office (Morgan 417A). Any information that has been digitized (e.g. typed up transcripts of your interviews, answers on your surveys) will be kept on a password-protected cloud storage space that only researchers on this project have the password to.

After we finish interviewing you, all of the people you talked to about your assault, and surveying the people they talked to about your assault, we will remove your name from all of these materials and replace it with a unique identifier (a case number) that will not be linked to any information that identifies you (e.g. your name or contact information). Finally, when we publish or present what we find from this study, we will not identify your name or the name of any person involved in the study.

If you do not qualify or you decide not to participate in the larger study, your identifying information will be deleted from your answers on the survey within two weeks of taking this survey. These answers will be kept on a password-protected cloud storage space that only researchers on this project have access to.

While your confidentiality is ensured to the extent permitted by law and the technology used, the researcher is not responsible for the interception of data by third-parties over the internet.

There are several steps to this study. These steps are:

1. This is the first step in the study. You will be asked to fill out multiple self-report questionnaires. The questionnaires will ask you about your sexual assault experience, who you told about this experience and how others reacted to you, your current mental health functioning, and your reactions to taking this survey. The questionnaires will take approximately one (1) hour to complete. We will also ask for contact information and your name so we can contact you for further participation.

2. After reviewing and seeing that you were qualified to continue participation, a researcher contacted you and asked you to continue participation. From here we scheduled the first interview. This interview will take about two hours. This interview will be a semi-structured interview as we have a list of questions that the researcher will ask you about your sexual assault experience and the people to whom you disclosed to about your assault.

a. During this interview, you and the researcher will work together to create a calendar that shows whom you disclosed to when after the assault took place. This interview will be audiotaped and transcribed and the calendar will be kept for future reference.

b. After answering questions about everyone you told about the assault, you will be asked to fill out a release form that gives us permission to ask the people you told about the assault to be interviewed. Our interview of these people will include questions about what they remember you told them, how they felt and what they thought, what they told you and why, and whom they talked to. We will not share anything they told us during the survey or interview process. All they will know is that you gave us permission to talk to them.

3. After this initial interview, you will be asked to come to a follow-up interview where you will be asked to complete a questionnaire about the people to whom you disclosed. This questionnaire will ask you about relationship characteristics, how you perceived their reaction, and how you felt about that reaction. We will ask you to fill out answers to these questions for each person you told about the assault. It is difficult at this point to know how long this process will take you as the researchers don’t yet know how many people you talked to. We estimate about 15 minutes per each individual you told about the assault. At this time, there may be a few follow-up interview questions to clarify anything from the first interview that the researcher is unclear about or anything from the original survey that needs to be clarified. It is difficult to estimate how long this interview will take without knowing how many individuals you told about your assault. A good estimate is about two hours.

4. There is a possibility of one further follow-up interview (a third interview) if there are any more clarifying questions that the interviewer needs to ask.

All of these additional meetings will take place in a private room in the library.
You may feel a sense of empowerment by participating in this research. You may also learn more about your own reactions to your experiences and gain insight into your concerns. Previous research has shown that disclosure of trauma, when met with support and interest, can be healing for people. It may also be beneficial for your healing process if you feel you are contributing to knowledge and your experience, while traumatic, is important. The study may also normalize trauma-related reactions and reduce stigma.

Some of the questions in this interview and follow-up questionnaires may be viewed as sensitive. There is a risk that the interview and questions could evoke unwanted thoughts or feelings. It is also possible that you may feel bored, frustrated, or inconvenienced with the amount of time it takes to complete the study. There is also a risk that scenarios could evoke feelings of guilt, anger, or anxiety. Although these are all possible risks, it is unlikely that the thoughts and feelings will be greater than what you experience during your normal daily routine. If you feel upset during or after the study, you may stop your participation at any time. At any time, you may refuse to answer a question or withdraw your participation without penalty. If you feel discomfort from participating in this study, please contact one of the primary investigators (see above), the WIU counseling center (298-2453; Memorial Hall) or the WIU psychology clinic (298-1919, Waggoner Hall). At the end of the study you will also be given a list of local counseling resources as well.

There is no compensation for filling out the qualification survey. If you qualify and choose to participate in the larger study, you will be compensated $100 for the initial interview and $50 for each additional meeting (with up to two additional meetings possible).

Research Funding Information:
This research is funded by a grant from Western Illinois University, University Research Council.
Additional Information:

You do not have to perform any activity you do not want to. You do not have to answer any question you do not want to answer. Your participation in this study is completely voluntary. Should you choose to participate but later change your mind for any reason, you may at any time withdraw from the study without penalty.
This portion of the study consists of one online survey that you will start after reading this consent information. You must complete all sections in one sitting and you will not be permitted to exit the survey and return at a later time. Your responses will temporarily be saved on an online server, but will only be permanently saved once you complete the survey. If you choose to exit the survey before it is completed, your answers will not be saved.

At this point, you will proceed to the survey. Once again, your participation in this survey is completely voluntary. If, at any point, you choose to end your participation, you may do so without do so without penalty. You also may ask any question or request additional information at any time. If you have any questions about the study, you may contact Bridget Welch, Ph.D. (309­298­2418 or BK­ or Craig Tollini, Ph.D. (309­298­1265 or CD­ If you have any questions about your rights as a research participant, you may contact the IRB Administrator (309­298­1191 or
I have read the information about the study and have been informed of its general purpose. I have printed or saved a copy of the informed consent form. I understand that clicking the "next" button means that I give my consent to participate in the study. (If you do not want to participate, please click the "exit this survey" button in the upper right corner of the page).