Document Type

Honors Thesis




Heather Falconer

Committee Members

Kathryn Swacha, Ellen Weinauer

Graduation Year

May 2023

Publication Date

Spring 2023


Sexual violence is incredibly prevalent in the state of Maine. These crimes, which disproportionately affect at-risk communities – women, children, people of color, and impoverished persons – are not accurately represented in legal discourses within Maine. Changes to how victims and survivors of sexual violence are represented and discussed in law enforcement reports and other materials are necessary in order to promote social change and justice for the survivors in our communities.

Critical Discourse Analysis has been used broadly since its conception and has even previously been used in understanding political and social implications of discourse in the United States. This thesis aims to address how discourse around sexually-based violence in Maine reflects society and vice versa through a Critical Discourse Analysis of Maine Department of Public Safety’s, “Crime in Maine” Reports (CiMR).

In researching the discourse surrounding sexually-based violence it was found that changes to legislation and the presentation of data surrounding sexually-based violence often changed around various social movements such as the Rape Crisis Movement, Behind Closed Doors (BCD) Movement, and the #MeToo Movement. These periods of social activism and lobbying have led to significant changes to socio-political discourse surrounding this issue. In order to continue promoting recognition of and advocacy for victims and survivors of sexually-based crimes, we must continuously address the D/discourses surrounding them to create a more equitable society.

Rights and Access Note

Copyright Emma V. Grous All Rights Reserved