Survivors Online: A netnographic analysis of the emerging role played by the Internet as a source of support for survivors of sexual violence

PhD Thesis


Yeager, Jennifer 2012. Survivors Online: A netnographic analysis of the emerging role played by the Internet as a source of support for survivors of sexual violence. PhD Thesis University of East London School of Psychology
AuthorsYeager, Jennifer
TypePhD Thesis
Abstract

This thesis examined the use of the Internet as a source of support for survivors
of sexual violence. Overall, the results of the thesis provided an in-depth analysis
of how the use of an online support group is beneficial in terms of support for
survivors of sexual violence due to the safety afforded by anonymity, control of
presentation and interactions, and emotional meaningfulness of the contact
between members.
This exploratory research illustrated how survivors use online support to cope
with victimization, indicating that online support groups offer a unique context
in which new beliefs and ideas about problems can be constructed. More
specifically, using data collected from an online support group
(“Survivors Online”) for survivors of sexual violence, the thesis incorporates
three studies. The first study elicited stories, in the form of narratives about the
survivors’ experiences of social support, to inform as to why these survivors
have turned to an Internet group for that support. Understanding how survivors
make meaning from their experiences of sexual violence is essential in
understanding the impact of sequelae and subsequent coping.
Study two examined how the site functions to allow for the provision of social
support by determining the quality and quantity of support messages exchanged
on the most popular message board on the site. The data showed that the
support group is beneficial in alleviating the psychosocial sequelae related to
stressful life events.
Finally, study three assessed how survivors use the Internet to seek social
support by documenting the site members’ type of Internet usage (e.g., email,
chat rooms, etc.), effects of usage on the survivors (such as whether the support
site has changed how they use conventional methods of support), and how the
support received is viewed by the members of Survivors Online (in terms of the
perceived best and worst aspects of Internet support). The results suggested
that the online support site is a valuable tool where survivors can receive and provide social support with people experiencing similar issues. However, the
results also indicated that, for some people, there are disadvantages associated
with relying on online social support.

KeywordsInternet; sexual abuse; support groups
Year2012
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.15123/PUB.1866
Publication dates
PrintOct 2012
Publication process dates
Deposited04 Apr 2013
Publisher's version
License
CC BY-ND
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https://repository.uel.ac.uk/item/85y87

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