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“This was a Sexual Assault”: A Social Worlds Analysis of Paradigm Change in the Interpersonal Violence World

Symbolic Interaction

Published online on


This article presents a portion of my research on woman‐to‐woman sexual assault. Research was based on interviews with survivors and service providers who have worked with them. Transcripts underwent a grounded theory method analysis. The article considers how sexual assault service provision is changing as rigidly gendered discourses on sexual violence are challenged. It draws on Becker's social worlds approach, introducing the “Interpersonal Violence World,” the “Violence Against Women Subworld,” and the “Anti‐Violence Project Subworld.” These subworlds are notably distinguishable by their discourses on how violence and gender interact. Woman‐to‐woman survivors' interactions with the Violence Against Women Subworld often prove problematic, an issue the Anti‐Violence Project Subworld addresses.