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Many young people who have been sexually assaulted are accessing the Internet through question and answer (Q&A) social networking sites in order to obtain information, advice and counselling on sexual assault. This paper reports on a study that was conducted on the Q&As on sexual assault that were posted on Yahoo! Answers. It focuses on comparing answers supplied by counsellors who work at a sexual assault centre with those posted by other Yahoo members. It reports on an analysis of content, tone and ‘best’ answer. Sixty-five questions and 392 answers were analysed using interpretive description which is an inductive analytic approach. The responses by counsellors were voted ‘best’ by posters of questions (Askers) in the majority of cases. Their responses were dispassionate, accurate and systematic and contained information about how and where Askers could access help. In contrast, the answers by general Yahoo members were inconsistent and lacked specificity. While most of their responses contained supportive comments, many contained condemnatory remarks about perpetrators and Askers, which were potentially damaging to both Askers and other Yahoo members who were accessing the site.

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Journal Article

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