The Many Facets Of Sexual Assault

1141 words - 5 pages

A model of sexual violence risk proposed by Abbey, McAuslan, and Ross (1998) posits a central role for sexual misperception (i.e., perception of sexual interest or sexual attraction in a potential partner when that partner has not intended to communicate interest). Normatively it has been well documented that male college students perceive more female sexual interest than was intended to be conveyed. Whether viewing still images, video, or live interactions, men tend to perceive women as displaying more sexual interest than women view the female actor displaying and more sexual interest than the female actor intended to display (Abbey, 1982; Abbey & Harnish, 1995; Edmonson & Conger, 1995; Saal, Johnson, & Weber, 1989; Shotland & Craig, 1988). Importantly, sexually coercive men may be particularly prone to this “over perception” of sexual intent (Abbey, McAusland, & Ross). Other researchers have noted that sexually coercive men may be relatively insensitive to women’s negative cues as well and may not respond differentially depending on the nature of her response (Lipton, McDonel, & McFall, 1987; McDonel & McFall, 1991). If a man mistakenly perceives his partner as interested in pursing a sexual relationship, her later refusal may seem arbitrary and hostile. His early misperception leads the man to interpret the situation as indicating that his partner has deliberately led him on. If this experience leads to anger and frustration, some men may choose to aggress against the source of their frustration, that is, their partner. Thus, relatively distal information processing deficits early in sexual bargaining could ultimately increase the risk for sexual aggression in a subset of men.
With health behavior change, it is almost always the case that the individual who successfully alters his or her lifestyle directly receives the benefit of that change. A man who implements an exercise program receives the cardiac benefit (Choo et al., 2010); a woman who regularly uses barrier methods during sexual intercourse is rewarded with a reduced probability of HIV infection (Davis & Weller, 1999). In some cases, there may be secondary actors who also benefit (e.g., children are exposed to less second-hand smoke when a parent stops using cigarettes), but the person making the change nonetheless also receives direct “compensation”. Sexual violence prevention, on the other hand, is unique in that it targets behavioral change in one individual (men at risk for violence) in order to benefit a different group of people (potential victims).

Approximately 20% of American women have been sexually assaulted (Koss, 1993). Of these women, one quarter require medical attention for their injuries (Horton, 1992), which most often include vaginal tearing and bruising, head injuries and other trauma to the mouth, throat, breasts and thighs (Banks, Ackerman, & Corbett, 1995; Marchbanks, Lui, and Mercy, 1990). Long-term consequences include pregnancy, sexually transmitted...

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