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LABELING OF ABUSE EXPERIENCES AND RATES OF VICTIMIZATION

Authors


  • Charity B. Hammond and Karen S. Calhoun, Department of Psychology, University of Georgia.

  • Dr. Hammond is now at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Karen S. Calhoun, Psychology Building, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602. E-mail: kcalhoun@uga.edu

Abstract

Research has consistently found that a history of previous sexual victimization increases risk for future sexual assault, which might be due to women with a history of sexual victimization having difficulty identifying risky cues and not perceiving their own vulnerability for future assaults. This study investigated how acknowledgment of previous experiences with interpersonal violence is related to risk perception and rates of victimization. Participants were 198 college women who completed assessments of victimization, personal risk appraisal, and acknowledgment. Analyses indicated differences in rates of victimization based on labeling of experiences and differences in efforts to change behaviors to reduce risk for future assaults based on level of acknowledgment. Also, there were a number of situational factors significantly related to likelihood of acknowledgment. The findings differed for physical and sexual violence. This study suggests that acknowledgment is an important factor to consider in studies of sexual and physical revictimization.

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