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Sexual Violence in the United States: A Tale of Gender and Force

  • Author(s): Cook, Mekeila C.
  • Advisor(s): Morisky, Donald E
  • et al.

This dissertation begins with an overview of the Transactional Model and the Experiential Avoidance model and empirical research that is useful in understanding the factors associated with sexual violence and subsequent risk behaviors. Three independent papers using data from the National Survey of Family Growth 2006-2010 are presented.

Paper 1 examines sexual violence among men, perpetrated by women. The purpose of the paper was to understand if there was a difference in condom use, number lifetime partners and substance use between men who experienced forced sex by a woman and those who did not reported forced sex. There was a statistically significant association between forced sex and substance use among men. The results indicate that men who experienced forced sex had, on average, three more sexual partners over their life time compared to men who did not experience forced sex. Additionally, substance use mediated the relationship between forced sex and number of sexual partners among men who reported forced sex.

Paper 2 examines the point in a woman's sexual life when abused occurred (e.g., at first sex, after first sex, or at first sex and another time thereafter) and assessed whether there is a difference in coping behaviors that may place the victim at greater risk for HIV infection. The purpose of this paper was to determine if condom use, number of lifetime partners and substance use differed in women in women based on if they reported forced sex and the point in the woman's sexual life that forced sex occurred. There was no statistically significant difference in condom use. Compared to women who did not report forced sex, women who reported forced sex after first sex and women who reported being re-victimized had on average three more sexual partners than did non-victimized women. There was not a statistically significant difference in number lifetime partners between women who were forced at first sex and women who reported no forced sex history.

Paper 3 examines whether force sex tactic reported was associated with avoidant coping behaviors as manifested in inconsistent condom use, number of sexual partners and substance use. The purpose of this study was to understand if the force sex tactic type and strength impacted condom use, number of lifetime partners and substance use in men and women who reported forced sex. There was a positive trend in stronger force sex tactic reported and number of partners among men and women; although at marginally significant levels. There was also a significant relationship between current substance use and the force sex tactic given drugs or alcohol in both men and women.

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