Abstract: Many educational and trauma psychologists have studied the impacts that rape and sexual assault have on the well-being of undergraduate students. However, few have analyzed the traumatic impact such events have on students after their undergraduate careers. This work looks at how students respond immediately and the years following a rape situation as they encounter the academic demands of graduate level education. Based on a study I ran in the Shenandoah Valley region of Virginia, this work scrutinizes the academic achievement differences in these two groups. This analysis uses the constructs outlined by psychologists regarding the added academic expectations in graduate education and studies involving the responses undergraduate students have in the classroom after experiencing similar scenarios. This will show the huge lulling impact such trauma has on a graduate student. In so doing, this work illuminates the dramatic impact that trauma can have on a student’s mind and shows that no matter what level of higher education a student is encountering this trauma in, the effects on a student’s learning capacity are drastic. Moreover, this work outlines for educators the added challenges their students may face who are in similar situations. This article is dedicated to Dr. Paul Menzer and Dr. Kerry Cooke who proved to be the most understanding and caring educators I have experienced in my academic career.
Keywords: educational psychology, trauma, rape culture, graduate education