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Peer influences within the Campus Environment on Help Seeking Related to Violence

While partner violence and sexual assault are public health concerns affecting college women, most young women do not seek help after the experience. Limited research explores the interpersonal context of help seeking related to violence in young women. The overall purpose of this research was to understand peer factors within a campus culture associated with seeking help in response to violence within a campus environment. Eight focus groups were held with 64 participants representing a broad spectrum of diversity in race and ethnicity. Narrative analysis was the primary method of analysis. Three themes emerged from the data: victim blaming, fear of direct response, and the alcohol factor. The young women's stories demonstrate the effects of friends and campus culture on perceptions of violence and abuse and help seeking. Findings suggest that peers and the social norms of the campus environment influence help-seeking behavior. An understanding of interpersonal level determinants of help seeking is essential for clinically relevant and effective prevention efforts. Nurse practitioners in campus health settings can use this research to guide assessment, intervention, and prevention strategies.