Office:   Psychology Building, Room 319

Phone:  562-985-2191




Dr. Courtney Ahrens



             Ph.D.                University of Illinois at Chicago, 2002

                                       Specialization:  Community Psychology

                                       Dissertation:  “Silent and Silenced:  The Disclosure  

                                              and Non-Disclosure of Sexual Assault”


             MA                    University of Illinois at Chicago, 1998

                                       Specialization:  Community Psychology

                                       Thesis:  “Friends Helping Friends:  The Effects of   

                                               Assisting Rape Victims”


             BA                     Smith College (Northampton, MA), 1992

                                       Major:  Psychology


My research is focused on violence against women and has both theoretical and practical aspects.  On a theoretical level, I am interested in cultural and societal influences on women’s experiences of sexual assault and intimate partner violence.  In particular, I am interested in understanding the circumstances under which diverse survivors of sexual assault and intimate partner violence choose to speak or remain silent, what happens when survivors do disclose, and how these interactions with others affect survivors’ health and well-being. 


On a practical level, I work extensively with rape crisis centers, domestic violence shelters, prevention programs, and policy organizations to prevent violence and support survivors.  These efforts have included implementation and/or evaluation of a variety of different programs, including campus-based bystander intervention programs, court-based advocacy programs, community education programs, support programs for survivors, and batterer intervention programs. 



Sample Publications                                                                                       (For a Complete Curriculum Vitae, click here)


Ahrens, C. &  Aldana, E. (2012). The ties that bind:  Understanding the impact of sexual assault disclosure on survivors'

             relationships with friends, family, and partners.  Journal of Trauma & Dissociation, 13(2), 226-243


Ahrens, C., Rich, M., & Ullman, J. (2011).  Rehearsing for real life:  The impact of the interACT sexual assault prevention

             program on self-reported likelihood of engaging in bystander interventions, Violence Against Women, 17(6), 760-776.


Ahrens, C., Isas, L., & Viveros, M. (2011).  Enhancing Latinas’ participation in research on sexual assault:  Cultural

             considerations in the design and implementation of research in the Latino community.  Violence Against Women, 17

             (2), 177-188.


Ahrens, C., Stansell, J., & Jennings, A. (2010).  To tell or not to tell:  The impact of disclosure on sexual assault survivors’

             recovery.  Violence and Victims, 25(5), 631-648.

Ahrens, C., Rios-Mandel., C., Isas, L., & Lopez, M. (2010).  Talking about interpersonal violence:  Cultural influences on 
             Latinas’ identification and disclosure of sexual assault and intimate partner violence.  Psychological Trauma:  Theory, 
             Research, Practice, and Policy, 2(4), 284-295.  

Ahrens, C., Cabral, G., & Abeling, S. (2009).  Healing or hurtful:  Sexual assault survivors’ interpretations of social reactions

             from support providers.  Psychology of Women Quarterly, 33 (1), 81-94.


Ahrens, C., Abeling, S., Ahmad, S., & Hinman, J. (2009).  Spirituality and well-being:  The relationship between religious

             coping and recovery from sexual assault.  Journal of Interpersonal Violence (first published on September 3, 2009 as



Ahrens, C., Dean, K., & Rozee, P. (2008).  Understanding and preventing rapeIn F. Denmark & M. Paludi (Eds.),

             Psychology of Women: A Handbook of Issues and Theories (pp. 509-554).  Westport, CT:  Praeger Publishers.


Ahrens, C. & Rozee, P. (2007).  Using an ecological perspective to understand and address sexual assault on campus. 

             CSU Monograph Series on Enduring Social Issues.


Ahrens, C., Campbell, R., Ternier, K., Wasco, S., & Sefl, T. (2007).  Deciding who to tell: Expectations and outcomes of rape

             survivors’ first disclosures.  Psychology of Women Quarterly, 31, 38-49.


Ahrens, C. (2006).  Being silenced:  The impact of negative social reactions on the disclosure of rape.  American Journal of

             Community Psychology, 38, 263-274.


Ahrens, C. & Campbell, R. (2000).  Assisting rape victims as they recover from rape: The impact on friends.  Journal of

             Interpersonal Violence, 15, 959-986.


Ahrens, C., Campbell, R., Wasco, S., Aponte, G., Grubstein, L., & Davidson, W. (2000).  Sexual assault nurse examiner

             programs: An alternative approach to medical service delivery for rape victims.  Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 15,














Psychology 354:  Psychology of Women

This course provides a basic overview of the psychology of women. The class will examine psychological and feminist research and theories that pertain to women’s experiences, paying particular attention to the socio-cultural, historical, international, and multi-cultural contexts that affect women’s lives. The course covers concepts central to the psychology of women, including:  a) oppression and privilege; b)  biological sex differences; c)  gender socialization; d) media images; e) body image; f) communication styles; g) sexuality; and h) leadership.  These concepts will be examined in relation to a variety of aspects of women’s lives, including: a) childhood; b) adolescence; c) friendships; d) intimate relationships; e) mothering; f) work; g) physical and mental health; and h) violence against women. 


Psychology 375:  Community Psychology

This course provides a basic overview of the field of community psychology. The class will cover the basic theories and concepts that define the field while incorporating real-life examples of community action and research.  Students will become acquainted with concepts central to community psychology, including:  a)  respect for diversity; b) social oppression; c) victim blaming; d)  ecological theory; e)  empowerment theory; f)  stress, coping, & social support; g) resilience; h) citizen participation and social action; and j) prevention.  Students will also learn about the principles of research that guide community psychologists, including: a) traditional research methods; b) organizational consulting; c) program evaluation; and d) participatory action research.  Finally, students will learn how these concepts are applied to a wide range of contemporary social issues including:  a) homelessness; b) domestic violence; c)  sexual violence; d) GLBTQ rights; e) environmental issues; f)  immigration rights; g)  youth violence; h) poverty; and i) social justice.  Emphasis will be placed on working with disenfranchised groups and organizations.


Psychology 405:  Fieldwork in Psychology

This course provides Psychology majors the opportunity to gain internship experience.  Specifically, students will work under the supervision of, or in association with, a professional having an advanced degree in a psychological discipline and who is engaged in the practice of some aspect of psychology in the surrounding community.  Placements include schools, hospitals, clinics, and community mental health agencies.  Students must complete 90 hours of documented field experience over the course of the semester (approximately 6 hours per week).


Psychology 423/523:  Qualitative Methods and Analysis

This class is an overview of Qualitative Research Methods and Analysis.  The term “qualitative” refers to a range of methods that involve an emphasis on understanding context, an emphasis on understanding how and why people in a specific setting act as they do, and the use of words rather than numbers.  Both data collection and data analysis techniques will be covered.   Students will become acquainted with the epistemological stances that underlie qualitative methods and how a qualitative approach differs from the quantitative approaches with which they are more familiar.  Students will also learn about specific data collection techniques such as focus groups and qualitative interviews.  Students will learn about these techniques first hand as they implement these techniques in the field. 

Community-Campus Collaboration Award (2011).  President’s Commission on the Statue of Women.  California State

             University at Long Beach.


Advancement of Women Award (2007).  President’s Commission on the Status of Women.  California State University at

             Long Beach.


Michelle Alexander Early Career Award for Scholarship and Service (2006).  Society for the Psychological Study of Social

             Issues (SPSSI).


Spirit of Service Award (2006).  Center for Community Engagement.  California State University at Long Beach.


Best Dissertation in Community Psychology (2004).  Society for Community Research and Action (Division 27 of the

             American Psychological Association)


McKeachie Early Career Teaching Excellence Award (2001).  Society for the Teaching of Psychology (Division  2 of the

             American Psychological Association)

Return to:       Top of Page          Education                Research               Courses              Community                Awards



Technical Working Group Participant.  The Criminal Justice System Response to Intimate Partner

Violence.  National Institute of Justice.  Baltimore, MD.


Coordinated Community Response Team Member.  CSULB Coordinated  Community Response Team, Long Beach,. CA


Grant Reviewer.  Orange County Women’s Health Project Health and Domestic Violence Task Force.  Santa Ana, CA.


Sponsored Speaking Engagements in Vietnam.  Presentations to Women’s Unions, Ministry of Justice officials, Non-Governmental Organizations, and media representatives.   US State Department.  Hanoi, Vietnam.


Panelist at the National Institute of Justice’s Research Seminar Series.  Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed   methods research Arlington, VA.



Research Consultant.  Joyful Heart Foundation.  New York, NY


Qualitative Analyst.  Voices and Faces Project.  Chicago, IL



Grant Reviewer.  National Institute of Justice.  Washington, DC


Sexual Violence Research Roundtable Participant.  Office of Violence Against Women & National Institute of Justice.  Washington, DC.


Program Coordinator.  Domestic Violence Court Resource Referral Program.  Long Beach, CA.


Advisory Board.  California Collaborative for the Prevention of Domestic Violence.  Long Beach, CA.


Advisory Board.  Center for Behavioral Research and Services.  Long Beach, CA


Advocate.  Rape Victim Advocates.  Chicago, IL.


Advocate.  W.O.M.A.N. Inc.  San Francisco, CA.


Advocate.  Everywoman’s Center.  Northampton, MA