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Brian A. Eiler, Rosemary Al-Kire, Patrick C. Doyle and Heidi A. Wayment

Employing a natural language processing approach, we analyzed textual content derived from publicly-available athlete victim impact statements (VIS) from the Larry Nassar trial (N = 111) to examine psychosocial responses to sexual violence. To explore potential differences in a non-sports context, we conducted similar analyses on a sample of #MeToo tweets (N = 45,848). Our research focused on the semantic content of VIS, including positive and negative affect, power and trust dynamics, well-being, and post-traumatic growth. We hypothesized that athletes’ reactions to sexual violence would be more likely to contain language related to power and trust. Traditional null-hypothesis significance testing and network analyses were used to identify the psychosocial indicators unique to sexual violence disclosures in a sports context. Results indicated differential use of language related to negative affect, trust, power dynamics, and post-traumatic growth in sports versus non-sports contexts. We discuss clinical, practical, and policy-based implications for risk reduction and intervention.