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RISK PERCEPTION, RAPE, AND SEXUAL REVICTIMIZATION: A PROSPECTIVE STUDY OF COLLEGE WOMEN

Authors


  • Terri L. Messman-Moore and Amy L. Brown, Department of Psychology, Miami University.

  • We would like to acknowledge numerous research assistants, without whom this project would not be possible: Stephanie Calmes, Diana Hickey, Lori Koelsch, Ryan McLaughlin, Sara Nelson, Rob Pace, Allison Scheer, Jaclyn Tooley, and Kyleigh Turner. We appreciate the assistance of several individuals who assisted in developing the content of the vignettes or validity ratings: Kim Breitenbecher, Gretchen Clum, Christine Gidycz, Brian Marx, Elizabeth Meadows, Amy Naugle, and Melissa Polusny. We would also like to thank Rose Ward, Trish Long, and Margaret O'Dougherty Wright for comments on earlier versions of this manuscript. An earlier version of this paper was presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association, August 2003. This project was supported by grants from the Committee for Faculty Research and the College of Arts & Sciences at Miami University.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Terri L. Messman-Moore, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, Benton Hall, Miami University, Oxford, OH 45056. E-mail: messmat@muohio.edu

Abstract

Risk perception was examined in relation to sexual victimization among 262 college women. Participants were presented with written vignettes that described hypothetical situations with a stranger and with an acquaintance. Participants' hypothetical decision to leave a potentially risky situation with an acquaintance predicted rape and revictimization during an 8-month follow-up period. Revictimized participants had significantly delayed responses compared to previously victimized respondents who were not revictimized. Multivariate models indicated that prior victimization and delayed risk response increased vulnerability for rape and other forms of sexual victimization. Results highlight the need to assess multiple aspects of risk perception, including threat identification and behavioral responses to hypothetical or real situations. Findings suggest that delayed response to danger cues might be one factor that increases vulnerability for revictimization by acquaintances.

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