Author ORCID Identifier

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Abigail H. Conley

Second Advisor

Robin Hurst

Third Advisor

Christine Bae

Fourth Advisor

Kellie Carlyle


Researchers and practitioners have increasingly focused on institutional responses to campus gender-based violence/harassment, yet they have paid far less attention to graduate student experiences than to undergraduate student experiences. Graduate students operate in a different context from undergraduates, and therefore specific knowledge of gender-based violence/harassment in the lives of graduate students is needed. The purpose of this exploratory, nonexperimental study was to better understand the prevalence of adult gender-based violence/harassment and adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) among graduate students, as well as to understand the relationship between those experiences and participants’ mental health and academic functioning. The study’s theoretical framework combined critical adult learning theories with cognitive perspectives on adult learning, including the neurobiology of trauma. Data used in the current study were originally collected as part of an institutional campus climate survey on gender-based violence; responses from n = 684 of the randomly selected participants were used in the current study’s analyses. Participants commonly reported both adult gender-based violence/harassment experiences and ACEs. The results of two OLS regressions indicated that experiencing more types of adult gender-based violence/harassment or more types of ACEs was associated with higher levels of negative affect and lower levels of mindfulness. Among participants who experienced gender-based violence/harassment in graduate school, independent samples t-tests showed that individuals who reported at least occasional academic functioning difficulties had lower levels of mindfulness and higher levels of negative affect than those who did not experience difficulties. Overall, the findings suggest the need for trauma-informed policies and practices within graduate education and higher education in general.


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