SIMILARITIES AND DIFFERENCES IN WOMEN'S SEXUAL ASSAULT EXPERIENCES BASED ON TACTICS USED BY THE PERPETRATOR

Authors


  • Antonia Abbey and Renee BeShears, Department of Community Medicine and Psychology, Wayne State University; A. Monique Clinton-Sherrod, Research Triangle Institute, Raleigh, North Carolina; Pam McAuslan, Department of Psychology, University of Michigan-Dearborn.

  • This research was supported by a grant to the first author from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (AA11346). Thanks to Michele Parkhill for assistance with some of the data analyses.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Antonia Abbey, Department of Community Medicine, Wayne State University, 4201 St. Antoine, Detroit, MI 48201. E-mail: aabbey@med.wayne.edu

Abstract

Only a few studies have examined the characteristics of sexual assault based on the tactics used by the perpetrator. In this study we compared the experiences of women who were forced to engage in vaginal, anal, or oral intercourse due to verbal coercion, physical force, or intoxication. Random-digit dialing was used to obtain a sample of 272 single African American and Caucasian women between the ages of 18 and 49 from the Detroit metropolitan area. Participants completed a computer-assisted self-interview that asked detailed questions about a past sexual assault and their reactions to it. Among the 139 women who were forced to engage in vaginal, anal, or oral intercourse, sexual assaults that involved physical force produced the most severe negative outcomes. Situations that involved the woman being too intoxicated to resist differed from others primarily in terms of how much alcohol the man and woman consumed. Although all types of sexual assault were perceived as being at least moderately serious, verbally coerced assaults were on average perceived as being least serious. These findings suggest that the perpetrators' tactics affect women's responses to sexual assault.

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