A “rape victim” by any other name

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Our purpose in this chapter was to examine the power in and behind two labels – “rape victim” and “rape survivor” – commonly applied to women who have been raped, especially in the psychological literature. Thus, we examined past theory and research pertaining to power, language, and the language of rape, including evidence regarding the self-conceptualizations of women who have been raped. We then reported four recent studies on differences in individuals’ perceptions of women who are labeled as “rape victims” versus “rape survivors”. Finally, we discussed the intrapersonal, social, and political power of rape language, and offered suggestions for application and future research.


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