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Repeated sexual assault victims report more psychological problems than previously thought
Date:5/22/2014

COLUMBIA, Mo. According to recent studies, one in five adult women and one in 100 adult men have reported being raped. The prevalence increases to two in five among women and one in five among men who report experiencing other forms of sexual violence, such as repeated unwanted sexual contact and sexual coercion. Now, researchers at the University of Missouri have determined that those victims who are repeatedly assaulted, but not necessarily violently raped, show greater levels of psycho-behavioral consequences than earlier thought. The researchers suggest that understanding patterns of sexual victimization and related consequences will help develop strategies to combat sexual assault frequency among adolescents.

"Our findings are important because we are able to identify some of the weaknesses and potential fallacies in classifying survivors based on the violence encountered during the assault," said Bryana French, assistant professor of counseling psychology in the Department of Educational, School and Counseling Psychology in the College of Education at MU. "Indirect, repeated or subtle manipulation tactics can lead to a lifetime of psychological consequences."

Researchers who study sexual assault typically assess victimization based on severity and rarely examine individual patterns of victimization, French said. She investigated the sexual victimization of those studied using a scale of sexual coercion including verbal coercion, substance-facilitated assault and forcible rapemaking this one of the few studies that examined all three types of sexual victimization.

Those victims who are repeatedly assaulted through physical force as well as verbal coercion, or who are given unwanted substances like drugs or alcohol to pressure them into intercourse, showed the greatest levels of psycho-behavioral consequences including lower self-esteem, higher psychological distress and greater sexual risk-taking later in life.

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Contact: Jeff Sossamon
sossamonj@missouri.edu
573-882-3346
University of Missouri-Columbia
Source:Eurekalert  

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