Date of Degree Completion

Spring 2022

Degree Type

Capstone - Open Access


Sheila McAdams


Sexual assault is still, to this day, a problem that many groups face, particularly People of Color (POC). Although there has been notable progress made in regard to laws, policies, and societal exceptions, there are barriers in achieving sexual assault reform. The progress that has been made up to date has benefited the majority, but the progress has inequitably addressed sexual assault for POC. The history of the United States’ treatment of People of Color has hindered effective reforms for POC survivors. Expectations of sexual assault survivors and outdated misinformation and stereotypes further damage any progress made in regard to change. Both of these perceptions have influenced and formulated current legal practices and federal policies in the United States. The legal system and policies do not address and target the core issues of sexual assault. Due to these gaps in laws and policies, survivors fail to receive the resources and justice that they need. The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), despite notable amendments and changes made, have yet to properly address the barriers and inequities of sexual assault reform. This paper will explore the history of sexual assault in the United States, the criminal justice system, societal perceptions and expectations, the barriers of sexual assault reform, and an analysis of VAWA’s impact combating sexual assault violence.