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507
Rape
What are some major false beliefs about rape?
What sociocultural factors help explain the high incidence of rape in
U.S. society?
Sexual Abuse of Children
What are some reasons that sexual abuse of children is so often
unreported?
What can parents and other caregivers do to make children less
vulnerable to sexual abuse?
Sexual Harassment
What kinds of sexual harassment occur in the workplace and in
academia?
What are some options available to someone who is being
sexually harassed?
507
AP Photo/Michael Manning
17
Sexual Coercion
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508 CHAPTER 17
I was sexually abused by my stepbrother throughout a great part of my child-
hood. The abuse started the summer I was 10. He is three and a half years older
than me, and he was my designated babysitter all summer. He usually wasn’t
violent. It was more coaxing and coercion, and threats of what would happen if I
told. The strongest memories I have are of times when it was particularly physi-
cally painful. I put myself out of my body, and would just watch the ceiling fan
go around and around. When I was 13 I saw a talk show on incest and then told a
woman at my church what was happening to me, and it kind of all fell apart from
there. As much as the thought of the whole experience is repulsive, what hurt the
most is my parents calling it child’s play in discussion with CPS [Child Protective
Services]. My parents even had me believing at one point that I really had wanted
it and was telling them about it for attention. Because of this reaction, I believed
for a while that it was my fault and that I was dirty because of it. My stepbrother
plea-bargained his case, and he was put on probation. I was taken out of the home
and put in foster and group homes. I attempted suicide numerous times and was
in four different psychiatric hospitals over about four years. I no longer have any
contact with the “family.” I am blessed to have been adopted into another loving
family. My new dad is the one who saved me from hating all men forever. But I
still have problems regarding sex. My boyfriend can’t even hold me romantically.
I have only stopped having flashbacks and nightmares fairly recently. I am in
therapy for the umpteenth time, but this time it is really working. (Authors’ files)
A person has been sexually victimized when she or he is deprived of free choice and is
coerced or forced to comply with sexual acts under duress. Victims of coercive sexual acts
often suffer grievous consequences, as revealed in the preceding account, provided by a
19-year-old college student. In this chapter, we focus on three particularly abusive and
exploitative forms of sexual coercion: rape, the sexual abuse of children, and sexual harass-
ment. All these behaviors involve strong elements of coercion, sometimes even violence.
Rape
Although the legal definition of rape varies from state to state, most state laws define
rape as sexual intercourse occurring under actual or threatened forcible compulsion
that overcomes the earnest resistance of the victim. This coercive act can range from
violent assault by a stranger, an acquaintance, or a family member to a planned roman-
tic date that degrades into an episode of coerced sex. What these acts have in common
is a lack of empathy for the feelings of victims and a willingness to take advantage of
and often harm them. Most writers and researchers on this topic distinguish at least
three different types of rape. Stranger rape is rape by an unknown assailant. Acquain-
tance rape, or date rape, is committed by someone known to the victim. Statutory
rape is intercourse with a person under the age of consent. (The age of consent var-
ies by state and ranges from 14 to 18.) Statutory rape is considered to have occurred
regardless of the apparent willingness of the underage partner.
Prevalence of Rape
Despite the fact that rape is a significant problem in our society, it has been difficult to
obtain accurate statistics on its frequency. One reason is that many individuals do not
report this crime. A recent study suggests that ethnic minority women may be especially
rape
Sexual intercourse that occurs with-
out consent as a result of actual or
threatened force.
stranger rape
Rape of a person by an unknown
assailant.
acquaintance rape
Sexual assault by a friend, acquain-
tance, or date—that is, someone
known to the victim.
date rape
Sexual assault by an acquaintance
when on a date.
statutory rape
Intercourse with a person under the
age of consent.
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Sexual Coercion509 509
likely not to disclose or report sexual assault (Ullman et al., 2008). Estimates of the
percentage of rapes that women victims report to police or other public agencies range
from 11.9% (Hanson et al., 1999) to 28% (U.S. Department of Justice, 2001). This low
percentage of reporting has led some writers to suggest that rape is the most underre-
ported crime in the United States (Lonsway & Fitzgerald, 1994; Romeo, 2004).
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, 84,767 females nationwide
reported being raped in 2010 (Goode, 2011). Based on the estimates of underreport-
ing of rape we just stated, it is likely that the actual number of rapes occurring in 2010
ranged from about 303,000 to 712,000.
e FBI statistics on reported rape in 2010 noted in the previous paragraph include
only rape perpetrated against a female forcibly and against her will. is denition of
rape, unchanged since 1929, excludes victims of forced anal or oral sex, rape with an
object, statutory rape, and male rape. In October 2011 the Uniform Crime Report Sub-
committee of the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services voted to expand its de-
nition of rape. e new denition of rape denes the crime as penetration, no matter
how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by
a sex organ of another person, without consent of the victim (WeNews Sta, 2011).
is denition dramatically broadens the old, outdated denition of forcible rape and
allows inclusion of many forms of rape victimization, including rape of males.
An exhaustive government survey of a nationally representative sample of 16,507
adults, the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, released in Decem-
ber 2011, found that almost one in ve American women has been raped in her lifetime
(Rabin, 2011). In this survey rape was dened as completed forced penetration, forced
penetration facilitated by drugs or alcohol, or attempted forced penetration. While this
denition expanded the old FBI denition, it excluded men and maintained an empha-
sis on rape as a “forced act of sexual victimization. We can expect that FBI statistics
on the annual number of rapes, determined under the new denition, will be revised
sharply upward in future years. Research focused on college populations indicates that
one in every four or ve college women is victimized by attempted or completed rape
(Crawford et al., 2008; Paulson, 2011; van der Voo & Smith, 2010).
Assaulted college women are often victimized again by a lack of institutional sup-
port and preparedness to handle allegations of sexual assault (van der Voo & Smith,
2010). Student victims of rape frequently describe a pervasive tendency to either sub-
scribe to a blame the victim attitude or to characterize the assault as a misunderstand-
ing. An investigation by the Center for Public Integrity found that students deemed
responsible for sexual assault often face little or no consequences while the victims are
frequently left in turmoil (van der Voo & Smith, 2010, p. 1). Based on the widespread
failure of colleges and universities to deal responsibly with the sexual assault of students,
it is reasonable to suspect that the actual incidence of sexual victimization of college
women is appreciably greater than the reported statistics indicate.
Victims of rape, whether students or nonstudents, do not report the crime for other
reasons, including self-blame (“I shouldnt have had so much to drink”), fear of being
blamed by others, concern for the rapist, fear of retaliation, and an attempt to block their
recall of a traumatic experience (Miller et al., 2011; Romeo, 2004; Wolitzky-Taylor et al.,
2011). A person who has been raped may feel vulnerable and frightened, and reliving the
experience by telling about it can be understandably dicult. Also, mistrust of the police
or legal system, fear of reprisal by the oender or his family, and concern about unwanted
publicity may deter individuals from reporting rapes. And, as we discuss later in this
chapter, a large proportion of rapes are committed by an acquaintance of the victim.
Under these circumstances a womans preconception of a “real” rape as a violent attack by
a stranger may not match her experience of an acquaintance rape, and therefore she may
not consider it reportable criminal behavior.
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510 CHAPTER 17
In the following pages, we look at a number of aspects of the act of rape, including
the cultural context in which it occurs, the characteristics of perpetrators, and the char-
acteristics of victims.
False Beliefs About Rape
An important factor in explaining the high incidence of rape in our society is the preva-
lence of misconceptions about this crime. False beliefs concerning rape, rapists, and
rape victims abound (Heath et al., 2011; McMahon & Farmer, 2011). Many people
believe that roughing up a woman is acceptable, that many women are sexually aroused
by such activity, and that it is impossible to rape a healthy woman against her will
(Gilbert et al., 1991; Malamuth et al., 1980). Research indicates that acceptance and
endorsement of rape myths increase mens proclivity to commit rape (Bohner et al.,
2006; Clarke & Stermac, 2011; Edwards et al., 2011). The effect of such rape myths is
often to deny and justify male sexual aggression against women (Lonsway & Fitzger-
ald, 1994, p. 133). Another frequent effect is to place the blame on the victim. Many
victims believe that the rape was basically their fault. Even when they were simply in
the wrong place at the wrong time, a pervasive sense of personal guilt often remains.
The following are some of the most common false beliefs about rape:
1. False belief: “Women can’t be raped if they really don’t want to be. The belief
that women can always resist a rape attempt is false, for several reasons. First,
men are usually physically larger and stronger than women. Second, female
gender-role conditioning often trains a woman to be compliant and submis-
sive. Such conditioning can limit the options a woman believes she has in
resisting rape. Third, in many rapes, the rapist chooses the time and place. He
has the element of surprise on his side. The fear and intimidation a woman
usually experiences when attacked work to the assailant’s advantage. His use
of weapons, threats, or physical force further coerces her compliance.
2. False belief: “Women say no when they mean yes. Some rapists have distorted
perceptions of their interactions with the women they rape—before, during, and
even after the assault. ey believe that women want to be coerced into sexual
activity, even to the extent of being sexually abused (Muehlenhard & Rodgers,
1998). ese distorted beliefs help the rapist justify his behavior: His act is not
rape but, rather, normal” sex play. Afterward, he may feel little or no guilt about
his behavior because, in his own mind, it was not rape.
3. False belief: “Many women ‘cry rape. False accusations of rape are uncommon,
and they are even less frequently carried as far as prosecution. Nevertheless,
false allegations of rape are sometimes made. e FBI estimates that fewer
than 1 in 10 rape accusations is shown to be false (Gross, 2008). People may
be motivated to fabricate a rape allegation by a need to create a cover story”
(e.g., a reason for becoming pregnant or contracting an STI), a desire for
revenge or retribution directed toward the alleged rapist, an overwhelming
need for attention, or an attempt to extort money from the accused (Gross,
2008). However, given the diculties that exist in reporting and prosecuting
a rape, few women (or men) could successfully proceed with an unfounded
rape case.
4. False belief: “All women want to be raped. at some women have rape fantasies
is sometimes used to support the idea that women want to be sexually assaulted.
However, it is important to understand the distinction between an erotic fantasy
and a conscious desire to be harmed. In a fantasy a person retains control. A
fantasy carries no threat of physical harm or death; a rape does.
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Sexual Coercion511 511
5. False belief: “Rapists are ‘obviously’ mentally ill. e mistaken idea that a potential
rapist somehow looks the part” is also prevalent. “is rape myth is particularly
dangerous because potential victims may feel that they can identify a rapist (the
crazed stranger) or that they are safe with someone they know” (Cowan, 2000, p.
809). As we discuss later, most rapes are committed by people who are not men-
tally ill and who are known to the victim.
6. False belief: “e male sex drive is so high that men often cannot control their
sexual urges. e problem with this myth is that it shifts the responsibility
from the perpetrator to the victim (Cowan, 2000).Women are seen as either
the precipitator of the rape (“She should not have worn that dress”) or as hav-
ing been careless or naive (“What did she think would happen if she went back
to his apartment with him?”).
Factors Associated With Rape
In an effort to understand the underlying causes of rape, researchers have looked at a
number of psychosocial and sociobiological factors.
Psychosocial Basis of Rape
Many researchers and clinicians view rape more as a product of social-
ization processes that occur within the fabric of “normal” society than
as a product of the individual rapist’s pathological condition (Hill &
Fischer, 2001; Hines, 2007; Simonson & Subich, 1999). Strong sup-
port for the view that rape is in many ways a cultural phenomenon
was provided by the research of Peggy Reeves Sanday (1981), an
anthropologist who compared the incidences of rape in 95 societies.
Sanday’s research indicated that the frequency of rape in a given
society is inuenced by several factors. Foremost among these were
the nature of the relations between the sexes, the status of women, and
the attitudes that boys acquire during their developmental years. San-
day found that rape-prone societies tolerate and even glorify mascu-
line violence, encouraging boys to be aggressive and competitive, and
they view physical force as natural and exemplary. In these societies,
men tend to have greater economic and political power than women,
remaining aloof from “womens work, such as child rearing and house-
hold duties. ese traits are especially pronounced in one markedly
rape-prone society, South Africa, where a recent study found that 37%
of men acknowledged they had raped a woman (Tay, 2010).
In contrast, relations between the sexes are quite dierent in
societies where there is virtually no rape. Women and men in rape-
free societies share power and authority and contribute equally to
the community welfare. In addition, children of both sexes in these
societies are raised to value nurturance and to avoid aggression and
violence. With this cultural framework in mind, let us take a closer
look at some of the aspects of male socialization in our own culture that contribute to
the occurrence of rape and other forms of sexual coercion.
e high rate of rape in the United States is associated with widespread stereotypi-
cal gender roles. Males in our society are often taught that power, aggressiveness, and
getting what one wants—by force, if necessary—are all part of the proper male role.
Furthermore, they frequently learn that they should seek sex and expect to be success-
ful—often with few qualms about using unethical means to achieve their goal. A recent
study that investigated the attitudes of over 200 boys age 14 found that believing that
Critical Thinking Question
Which of these false beliefs about rape do
you think is most dangerous and why?
Women in Austin, Texas, protest against sexual assault.
These women and others like them have helped challenge
societal assumptions about rape.
© Bob Daemmrich/The Image Works
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512 CHAPTER 17
rape is acceptable in some situations may account for adolescent boys per-
petration of forced sex on girls” (Manet & Herbe, 2011, p. 372).
It is not surprising, therefore, that many U.S. men view aggression as
a legitimate means to obtain sexual access to women. Men whose peer
groups openly legitimize and support these attitudes and behaviors are
particularly likely to victimize women sexually (Sanday, 1996).
Impact of the Media
The media play a powerful role in transmitting cultural values and norms.
Some novels, films, videos, Internet websites, and computer games per-
petuate the notion that women want to be raped. Often, fictionalized rape
scenes begin with a woman resisting her attacker, only to melt into pas-
sionate acceptance. In the rare cases where male-to-male rape is shown, as
in the films Deliverance and The Shawshank Redemption, the violation and
humiliation of rape are more likely to be realistically portrayed.
e mere act of viewing sexually explicit media, a practice indulged in
by many American men (especially with the proliferation of Internet por-
nography), does not necessarily contribute to sexually aggressive behavior.
In fact, one comprehensive review of available research studies assessing
the eects of pornography concluded that “for the majority of American
men, pornography exposure . . . is not associated with high levels of sexual
aggression” (Malamuth et al., 2000, p. 85). Nevertheless, it does appear
that exposure to violent pornography may have negative eects on mens
attitudes and behaviors toward women (Simons et al., 2008).
A number of social scientists have suggested that sexually violent lms, books,
magazines, videos, and computer games contribute to some rapists assaultive behav-
iors (Allen et al., 1995; Hall, 1996; Simons et al., 2008). Boeringer (1994) found that
viewing pornography that depicted violent rape was strongly associated with judging
oneself capable of sexual coercion and aggression and engaging in such coercive acts.
Other research suggests that exposure to media that combine arousing sexual images
with violence may promote the development of deviant patterns of physiological sexual
arousal” (Hall & Barongan, 1997, p. 5).
Is rape, then, a sexualization of violence? e evidence is equivocal. In two studies,
the erectile responses of matched groups of rapists and nonrapists were measured as the
men listened to audiotape descriptions of rape and of mutually consenting sexual activ-
ity. In both studies, rapists were more aroused by the sexual assault description than
were nonrapists (Abel et al., 1977; Bernat et al., 1999). However, other research has
failed to support this conclusion, nding little dierence in the erectile responses of rap-
ists and nonrapists in similar research designs (Eccles et al., 1994; Proulx et al., 1994).
More research is needed to clarify these ndings.
Characteristics of Rapists
Are rapists characterized by a single personality or behavioral pattern? Until recently,
efforts to answer this question have been hindered by both a narrow conceptualization
of rape and inadequate research methods. This was because our knowledge of the char-
acteristics and motivations of rapists was based primarily on studies of men convicted
of the crime—a sample group that probably represents less than 1% of rapists. Because
convicted rapists are less educated, more inclined to commit other antisocial or crimi-
nal acts, and more alienated from society than are rapists who do not pass through the
criminal justice system, we cannot say with certainty that men who rape without being
prosecuted and convicted match the profile of convicted rapists.
Advertisements like this one are intended to
educate men and women about rape.
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Sexual Coercion513 513
We can say that many of the men incarcerated for rape have a strong proclivity
toward violence, one that is often reected in their acts of rape. is fact, along with
certain assumptions about male-female relationships, has led a number of writers to
argue that rape is not sexually motivated but is rather an act of power and domination
(Brownmiller, 1975). is viewpoint prevailed for a number of years, during which
the sexual component of rape and other assaults was de-emphasized. However, more
recent research suggests that, although power and domination are often involved in
sexual coercion, such coercion is also frequently motivated by a desire for sexual grati-
cation. is view has been supported by several studies of the incidence and nature of
sexual coercion among nonincarcerated males (Hickman & Muehlenhard, 1999; Senn
et al., 1999).
It appears that a wide range of personality characteristics and motivations underlie
sexual assault and how that assault is committed. Men who embrace traditional gender
roles, particularly that of male dominance, are more likely to commit rape than are men
who do not embrace traditional gender stereotypes (Ben-David & Schneider, 2005;
Hartwick et al., 2007; Robinson et al., 2004). Anger toward women is a prominent
attitude among some men who sexually assault women (Abbey & Jacques-Tiura, 2011;
Anderson et al., 1997). Alcohol can also contribute to rapists’ behavior; rapists often
had been drinking just before assaulting their victims (Howard et al., 2008; Novik et al.,
2011; Rapoza & Drake, 2009). Furthermore, alcohol-involved rapes are often associ-
ated with a high level of violence (Abbey et al., 2003; Young et al., 2008).
Many rapists have self-centered personalities, which may render them insensitive
to others feelings (Dean & Malamuth, 1997; Marshall, 1993). Research has provided
strong evidence that men with a narcissistic personality trait may be especially inclined
to commit rape and other acts of sexual coercion (Baumeister et al., 2002; Bushman et
al., 2003). Narcissism as characterized by an inated sense of self-importance, an unrea-
sonable sense of entitlement, decient empathy for others, and exploitative tendencies
toward others. Research indicates that narcissists are also inclined to engage in aggressive
retaliation against others for real or imagined slights (Baumeister et al., 2002;
Bushman & Baumeister, 1998). In addition to these aggressive tendencies, nar-
cissists unreasonable sense of entitlement may inuence them to view women
as owing them sexual favors. eir lack of empathy for others would negate the
impact of their victims’ discomfort or suering. Finally, their exaggerated sense
of self-importance may facilitate their ability to rationalize their behavior and
convince themselves that their coercion victims had really desired sex or had
expressed some form of consent” (Bushman et al., 2003, p. 1028).
Anger, power, and sexual gratication all play varying roles in rape. How-
ever, anger and a need to express power appear to predominate in stranger
rape, whereas a desire for sexual gratication seems to predominate in
acquaintance or date rape.
Characteristics of Female Rape Victims
Although females of all ages are raped, more than 50% of U.S. female rape
victims reported that their first rape occurred before they were 18 years old,
and 22% reported that their first rape occurred before they were 12 (see
Figure 17.1). Women ages 16 to 24 are the most frequent victims of
reported rape in the United States (U.S. Department of Justice, 2003). Being
raped before the age of 18 greatly increases the chances that a woman will be
raped again (Nishith et al., 2000; Tjaden & Thoennes, 1998). The younger
the age of the rape victim, the more likely it is that the perpetrator is a rela-
tive or an acquaintance (U.S. Department of Justice, 2003). Research also
Women VictimsAge at Time of First Rape
(n = 1,323 women victims)
12–17 Years
32.4%
18–24 Years
29.4%
< 12 Years
21.6%
> 25 Years
16.6%
SOURCE: Tjaden & Thoennes (1998).
Figure 17.1 Age breakdown of women rape
victims at time of first rape.
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514 CHAPTER 17
indicates that women who were victims of childhood sexual abuse are at increased risk
for adult sexual revictimization by rapists (Reese-Weber & Smith, 2011).
Women involved in physically abusive relationships are especially vulnerable to
being raped by their partners (Sormanti & Shibusawa, 2008). Evidence indicates that
battered female victims of intimate partner violence (IPV) may be raped by their part-
ners as frequently as several times per month (Sormanti & Shibusawa, 2008).
As noted earlier, the frequency of reported rape varies by culture. Asian and Pacic
Islander women report being raped signicantly less often than do White and African
American women, Hispanic women report being raped less often than non-Hispanic
women, and Native American and Alaska Native women report a much higher fre-
quency of rape than any other group (Bryan, 2011; Tjaden & oennes, 1998). Recently
published federal data reveal that one third of Native American women will be raped in
their lifetimes (Bryan, 2011). Women who live in poverty are more frequent victims of
all types of crimes including rape.
Acquaintance Rape and Sexual Coercion
Most rapes are committed by someone who is known to the victim—by an acquaintance
or a friend—not (as popularly thought) by a stranger (deVaron, 2011; Ben-David &
Schneider, 2005; P. McMahon, 2008). Research indicates that in approximately three
out of four sexual assaults against women, the perpetrator is known by the victimized
person (Romeo, 2004). A significant number of these acquaintance rapes occur in dating
situations—hence the term date rape. Acquaintance rapes account for an estimated 90%
of the rapes of women attending college in the United States (Crawford et al., 2008).
Considerable research has focused on the prevalence of sexual coercion in dating
situations (Jenkins & Aube, 2002; Oswald & Russell, 2006; Shook et al., 2000). Until
recently, much of this research examined women as victims and men as perpetrators
of sexual coercion. Various studies have reported that 20–45% of teenage and adult
women have been victims of coerced sexual activity, most commonly in dating or couple
relationship situations (Brousseau et al., 2010; Rhynard et al., 1997; Shrier et al., 1998).
However, women are not the only ones to experience sexual coercion. A number of
studies have revealed that men also report experiencing some form of coercive sexual
activity (Brousseau et al., 2010; Hartwick et al., 2007; Struckman-Johnson et al., 2003).
While sexual coercion in dating situations can be either verbal or physical, the ver-
bal variety (e.g., threats to end a relationship or insistent arguing) is considerably more
common. A study of college students found that 82% of participants reported using
verbal sexual coercion and 21% acknowledged using physical sexual coercion against a
dating partner in the past year (Shook et al., 2000). However, it is important to note
that although many of the women in the studies previously cited were physically forced
to engage in unwanted sex acts, physical force is considerably less likely to be used in the
sexual coercion of men (Hartwick et al., 2007; Krahe et al., 2003).
Acquaintance Rape: The Role of Perceptions and Communication
Earlier in this chapter, we examined the relationship between sexual coercion and cul-
tural expectations for males in our society. The socializing process that encourages
men to be aggressive to get what they want is undoubtedly an important factor in rape
and sexual coercion. As many have pointed out, in our society many males and females
learn sexual scripts that encourage men to be aggressive and women to be passive
(Dworkin & O’Sullivan, 2005). Yet some experts argue that in at least some cases of
acquaintance rape, the picture is more complicated.
Consider the issue of mens misinterpretation of womens signals. Men often con-
sider womens actions such as cuddling or kissing as indicating a desire to engage in
Some people perceive a woman who wears
“suggestive clothing” and is then raped as
somehow responsible for her own rape.
In contrast, a man who dons an expensive
suit, carries a lot of cash, and wears a Rolex
watch is seldom, if ever, held responsible
for being robbed on the street. What are
your thoughts about this inconsistency in
assigning the label victim precipitation to
these two events? Is it ever appropriate to
label a victim responsible for her or his own
victimization?
Critical Thinking Question
sexual scripts
Culturally learned ways of behaving in
sexual situations.
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Sexual Coercion515 515
intercourse (Muehlenhard, 1988; Muehlenhard & Linton, 1987). However, a woman
who feels like cuddling does not necessarily want to have sex, and she may express this
to her date. Even if a woman clearly expresses her desire not to have sex, her date may
read her actions as “token resistance, concluding that she really wants to have sex but
does not want to appear too easy” (Krahe et al., 2000; Osman, 2003).
In some cases this “reading” is entirely motivated by exploitative self-interest. But some
women do say no when they mean yes. One study of 610 female undergraduates revealed
that 39.3% had engaged in token resistance to sex at least once. Reasons for saying no
when they really meant yes included not wanting to appear promiscuous, uncertainty
about a partners feelings, undesirable surroundings, game playing (wanting a partner to be
more physically aggressive, to persuade her to have sex, etc.), and desiring to be in control
(Muehlenhard & Hollabaugh, 1989). is kind of double message may actually promote
rape by providing men with a rationale for ignoring sincere refusals. e researchers in
this study concluded that if a man has had the experience of ignoring a womans protests
only to nd that she actually did want to have sex, then his belief that womens refusals
are not to be taken seriously will be strengthened” (Muehlenhard & Hollabaugh, 1989, p.
878). He may thus proceed with his sexual advances despite further protests and genuine
resistance from his date. Such a man may not even dene his actions as rape.
e concept of token resistance underscores the fact that many sexual interactions
are beset with problems of poor communication. e ambiguity and miscommunica-
tion that often characterize sexual encounters underscore the importance of building a
foundation of clear communication, a topic addressed in Chapter 7.
Even men who believe their female partner when she says no may think that it is
defensible to use force to obtain sex if they feel that they have been led on. A number of
studies have found that many men regard rape as justiable, or at least hold the woman
more responsible than themselves, if she leads a man on by such actions as dressing
suggestively” or going to his apartment (Muehlenhard et al., 1991; Workman & Free-
burg, 1999). e implications of these ndings for acquaintance rape prevention are
discussed in the Your Sexual Health box, Dealing With Rape and Attempted Rape.
Date Rape Drugs
In the early 1990s reports began to circulate about the increasing use of Rohypnol
(roh-HIP-nol) to facilitate sexual conquest or to incapacitate victims who are then sex-
ually molested or raped (Daly, 2011; Staten, 1997). Rohypnol, commonly known
on the street as roofies, is the brand name for flunitrazepam, a powerful tranquil-
izer that has a sedative effect 7 to 10 times more potent than that of Valium. In
addition to producing a sedative effect in 20 to 30 minutes that can last for sev-
eral hours, Rohypnol causes muscle relaxation and mild to pronounced amnesia
(Romeo, 2004). Rohypnol is odorless and is excreted from the victims system in a
relatively short time, making discovery and prosecution of rapists who use this drug
difficult. Many cases have emerged in which women were raped after their dates
had given them the drug surreptitiously—hence the term date rape drug. When
combined with alcohol, the drugs effects are greatly enhanced and can result in a
dramatic high, markedly reduced inhibitions, unconsciousness, and total amnesia
concerning events that occur while a person is under its influence.
In an eort to counter the negative image of Rohypnol as a date rape drug, the
manufacturer, Roche Pharmaceuticals, has changed the color and formulation of this
drug. e result is a pill that is more dicult to dissolve and that produces a blue
solution when dissolved (Olsen et al., 2005). In addition, recently developed labora-
tory procedures have made it easy to detect this reformulated drug in drinks spiked
to accomplish date rape (Olsen et al., 2005).
John Lund/Annabelle Breakey/Blend Images/Jupiterimage
Drugs slipped into the drinks of
unsuspecting women may be used
to facilitate sexual conquest or to
incapacitate victims who are then
sexually molested or raped.
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Editorial review has deemed that any suppressed content does not materially affect the overall learning experience. Cengage Learning reserves the right to remove additional content at any time if subsequent rights restrictions require it.
516 CHAPTER 17
Although rape is a society-wide problem, it is the rape
victim who experiences the direct, personal violation.
The
suggestions offered in the following lists present strategies
for reducing the risk of acquaintance rape and for avoiding
stranger rape.
However, following these suggestions offers
no guarantee of avoiding rape.
Even a woman who leads
an extremely cautious and restricted life can be assaulted.
Rape prevention consists primarily of making it as difcult
as possible for a rapist to victimize you. Many of the follow-
ing suggestions are commonsense measures against other
crimes besides rape.
Reducing the Risk of Acquaintance Rape
1. The less you know about a person before meeting, the
more important it is to be cautious.
Thus, when dating
someone for the rst time, seriously consider doing so
in a group situation or meeting your date at a public
place.
This will allow you to assess your date’s behav-
ior in a relatively safe environment.
2. Watch for indications that your date may be a dominat-
ing person who may try to control your behavior.
A
man who plans all activities and makes all decisions
during a date may also be inclined to dominate in a
private setting.
3. If the man drives and pays for all expenses, he may
think he is justied in using force to get “what he paid
for.” If you cover some of the expenses, he may be less
inclined to use this rationale to justify acting in a sexu-
ally coercive manner (Basrow & Minieri, 2011).
4. Avoid using alcohol or other drugs when you de-
nitely do not wish to be sexually intimate with your
date. Consumption of alcohol or other drugs, by both
victim and perpetrator, is commonly associated with
acquaintance rape (Novik et al., 2011; Rose et al., 2011).
Caffeinated alcoholic beverages, such as Four Loko,
have been linked to sexual assault cases on college
campuses (Jalonick, 2010;
Pang, 2010). Drug intoxica-
tion can both diminish your capacity to escape from an
assault and reduce your date’s reluctance to engage in
assaultive behavior.
5. Avoid behavior that may be interpreted as “teasing.
Clearly state what you do and do not wish to do in
regard to sexual contact. For example, you might
say, “I hope you do not misinterpret my inviting you
back to my apartment. I denitely do not want to do
anything more than relax, listen to some music, and
talk.” If you are interested in initiating an exploration
of some kind of early physical contact, you might
say, “
Tonight I would like to hold you and kiss, but I
would not be comfortable with anything else at this
point in our relationship.” Such direct communication
can markedly reduce a man’s inclinations to force
unwanted sexual activity or to feel “led on” (Muehlen-
hard &
Andrews, 1985; Muehlenhard et al., 1985).
6. If, despite direct communication about your intentions,
your date behaves in a sexually coercive manner, you
may use a “strategy of escalating forcefulness—direct
refusal, vehement verbal refusal, and, if necessary,
physical force” (Muehlenhard & Linton, 1987, p. 193).
One study found that college students were most likely
to label a scenario of date sex as rape if such activity
was preceded by a clearly stated no (Sawyer et al.,
1998). In another study, the response rated by men as
most likely to get men to stop unwanted advances was
for the woman to vehemently say, “
This is rape, and
I’m calling the cops” (Beal & Muehlenhard, 1987). If
verbal protests are ineffective, reinforce your refusal
with physical force, such as pushing, slapping, biting,
kicking, or clawing your assailant. Men are more likely
to perceive their actions as at least inappropriate, if
not rape, when a woman protests not only verbally but
also physically (Beal & Muehlenhard, 1987; Muehlen-
hard & Linton, 1987). Self-defense training can be
beneficial in situations in which women are able to
use physical force to protect themselves from assault
(Orchowski et al., 2008).
Reducing the Risk of Stranger Rape
1. Do not advertise that you are a woman living alone.
Use initials on your mailbox and in the phone book;
even add a ctitious name.
2. Install and use secure locks on doors and windows,
changing door locks after losing keys or moving into a
Dealing With Rape and Attempted Rape
YOUR SEXUAL
HEALTH
Many women take self-defense training to protect them-
selves from assault.
AP Photo/The New Mexican, Natalie Guillen
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Sexual Coercion517 517
new residence. A peephole in your front door can be
particularly helpful.
3. Do not open your door to strangers. If a repairman or
public ofcial is at your door, ask him to identify him-
self and call his ofce to verify that he is a reputable
person on legitimate business.
4. When you are in situations in which strangers may be
encountered, demonstrate self-condence through
your body language and speech to communicate that
you will not be intimidated.
Research reveals that rap-
ists often tend to select as victims women who exhibit
passivity and submissiveness (
Richards et al., 1991).
5. Take a cell phone with you when you are out alone.
6. Lock your car when it is parked and while you are
driving.
7. Avoid dark and deserted areas and be aware of your
surroundings when you are walking. Such precautions
can help if you need an opportunity to escape. Should
a driver ask for directions when you are a pedestrian,
avoid approaching his car. Instead, call out your reply
from a safe distance.
8. Have house or car keys in hand before going to your
door, and check the backseat before getting into your
car.
9. Should your car break down, attach a white cloth to the
antenna and lock yourself in. If someone other than a
uniformed ofcer in an ofcial car stops to offer help,
ask this person to call the police or a garage but do not
open your locked car door.
10. Never hitchhike or provide rides to hitchhikers or get
into a car with a stranger.
11. Wherever you go, it can be helpful to carry a device for
making a loud noise, such as a whistle or, even better,
a pint-sized compressed-air horn (available in many
sporting goods and boat supply stores). Sound the
noise alarm at the first sign of danger.
Many cities have crime-prevention bureaus that provide
further suggestions and home-safety inspections.
What to Do in Threatening Situations Involving Strangers
If you are approached by a man or men who may intend
to rape you, you will have to decide what to do. Each
situation, assailant, and woman is unique. There are no
absolute rules.
1. Run away if you can.
2. Resist if you cannot run. Make it difcult for the rap-
ist. On locating a potential victim, many men test
her to see if she is easily intimidated. Resistance by
the woman is often responsible for thwarting rape
attempts (Heyden et al., 1999). Active and vociferous
resistance—shouting, being rude, causing a scene,
running away, ghting back—may deter the attack.
This
was the nding of a study of 150 rapes or attempted
rapes: Women who used forceful verbal or physical
resistance (screaming, hitting, kicking, biting, running,
and the like) were more likely to avoid being raped
than women who tried pleading, crying, or offering no
resistance (Zoucha-Jensen & Coyne, 1993).
3. Ordinary rules of behavior do not apply. Vomiting,
screaming, or acting crazy—whatever you are
willing to try—can be appropriate responses to an
attempted rape.
4. Talking can be a way to stall and can give you a chance
to devise an escape plan or another strategy. It can be
helpful to get the attacker to start talking (“What has
happened to make you so angry?”), to express some
empathy (“It is really discouraging to lose a job”),
or to negotiate (“Let’s take time to talk about this”).
Even when talking does not prevent an assault, it may
reduce the degree of violence (
Prentky et al., 1986).
5. Remain alert for an opportunity to escape. In some
situations, it may be impossible to fight or elude an
attacker initially. However, later on, you may have a
chance to deter the attack and escape—for example, if
the rapist becomes distracted or a passerby comes on
the scene.
Self-defense classes are a resource for learning tech-
niques of physical resistance that can injure the attacker or
distract him long enough for you to escape.
What to Do if You Have Been Raped
If someone has raped you or tried to rape you, you will
have to decide whether to report the attack to the police.
1. It is advisable to report a rape or even an unsuccess-
ful rape attempt.
The information you provide may
prevent another woman from being raped.
2. When you report such an attack, any details you can
remember about it may be helpful—the assaulters
physical characteristics, voice, clothes, car, even an
unusual smell.
3. If you have been raped, you should call the police
as soon as possible; do not bathe or change your
clothes. Semen, hair, and material under ngernails
or on your clothing may be useful in identifying the
rapist.
4. It may be helpful to contact a rape crisis center, where
qualied staff members can assist you in dealing with
your trauma. Most large urban communities in the
United States have such programs. If you cannot make
the contact yourself, have a friend, family member, or
the police make the call.
5. In addition to general counseling, there are effective
treatment programs for women who have been raped.
If your symptoms do not subside after a period of time,
consider entering a treatment program. You do not
have to continue to suffer.
6. Finally, it is important to remember that many women
mistakenly blame themselves for the rape.
However,
being raped is not a crime; the crime has been commit-
ted by the man who raped you.
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518 CHAPTER 17
Other drugs, such as gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB) and ketamine hydrochloride
(Special K) have also been implicated in date rapes (Crawford et al., 2008; Elliott &
Burgess, 2005). GHB was developed more than 40 years ago and was initially used as an
anesthetic. Its mind-altering eects soon became well known, and it has become increas-
ingly popular as a recreational drug—often with devastating results. GHB is a central
nervous system depressant that can be especially lethal when combined with alcohol
(Elliott & Burgess, 2005). Since 1990, emergency rooms have reported thousands of
cases of GHB overdoses, some of which have resulted in death (Elliott & Burgess, 2005).
GHB is odorless and tasteless, which makes it easy to administer to unsuspecting vic-
tims. GHB exits the body in 6 to 12 hours, which makes it an especially ideal drug for
sexual predators, because a lack of toxicological evidence makes prosecution dicult.
It is important to be alert for potential victimization by means of a date rape drug.
Do not accept a drink (alcohol, coee, soda, etc.), especially an open-container beverage,
from someone other than a trusted friend. Never leave your drink unattended. If you
forget and do leave your drink unattended (for example, while dancing), pour it down
the drain. If you experience one or more of the following symptoms after ingesting a
beverage, it is possible that your drink was tainted: nausea, dizziness, slurred speech,
movement impairment, or euphoria. If you nd yourself in such a circumstance, call 911
or ask someone other than your date or companion to help you seek medical attention
and, if possible, retain a sample of the beverage.
As a result of abuse and deaths associated with date rape drugs, the U.S. Congress
has passed laws that strengthen the penalties for possessing Rohypnol, GHB, and other
similar drugs and that signicantly increase the prison sentences for rapists who use
drugs to incapacitate victims. Recently published information indicates that an easy-
to-use sensor, that when dipped into a beverage instantly detects the presence of a date
rape drug, should be available soon (UPI NewsTrack, 2011a).
Wartime Rape
Although rape is most often a coercive interaction between two individuals, it has also
been a strategy or policy of war throughout history (Mukamana & Brysiewicz, 2008).
Records abound of the mass rape of women during war, from the time of ancient Greece to
the more recent atrocities in Rwanda, Darfur, and the former Yugoslavia. In the 20th cen-
tury hundreds of thousands of women have been victimized by wartime rape (Bergoffen,
2006; Polgreen, 2005; Van Zeijl, 2006). In the 1990s reports of mass rapes perpetrated
by Serbian soldiers on thousands of Bosnian and Croatian women and girls increased the
public’s support for measures to label rape a war crime. Awareness was further heightened
by reports that thousands of women and girls were raped during the 1994 war in Rwanda
(Flanders, 1998; Mukamana & Brysiewicz, 2008). Rape has been employed as a weapon
in the conflict in the Darfur region of Sudan (Polgreen, 2005). More recently reports
have surfaced describing how hundreds of women have been raped by militiamen loyal to
Moammar Gadhafi during the war in Libya (Fahim, 2011; Faul, 2011).
Accounts of the rape and sexual abuse of Jewish women during the Holocaust, a
topic largely ignored for over 60 years, were presented in the book Sexual Violence Against
Jewish Women During the Holocaust, coedited by Rochelle Saidel and Sonja Hedge-
peth (2010). ousands of Jewish women were raped, sexually abused, or subjected to
threats of this abuse during the reign of the ird Reich. Many of the women abused in
this deplorable fashion were subsequently killed by Nazi thugs (Cooper, 2011).
U.S. soldiers have also been guilty of wartime rape. Cases of gang rape of Vietnamese
women appear in the records of courts-martial for American troops in Vietnam (Brown-
miller, 1993). American soldiers have also been prosecuted for raping Iraqi women dur-
ing the invasion of Iraq. In 1996 the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal
SEXUALHEALTH
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Sexual Coercion519 519
for the Former Yugoslavia ruled that wartime rape is a crime punishable by severe crimi-
nal sanctions (marking the rst time that sexual assault was treated separately as a war
crime). In 2001 this U.N. tribunal established sexual enslavement” as a war crime and
convicted several Bosnian Serbs for the multiple rapes of Muslim women enslaved in
so-called rape camps. Convicted rapists received sentences ranging from 12 to 28 years
(Comiteau, 2001). In recent years the Democratic Republic of Congo has become what
United Nations ocials label as the epicenter of rape as a weapon of war (Peterman et
al., 2011). It is estimated that almost 2 million women have been raped in the Congo.
Why is rape so common during war? Wartime rape, in addition to being used
as a means to dominate, humiliate, and control women, can also be intended to
disable an enemy by destroying the bonds of family and society” (Swiss & Giller,
1993, pp. 612–613). In wars instigated by ethnic conict, as in the former Yugosla-
via, Rwanda, and Darfur, mass rape is used as a military strategy to terrorize and
demoralize a whole population, to destroy its cultural integrity, and sometimes to
force entire communities to ee their houses, thereby achieving the goal of ethnic
cleansing (Boustany, 2007; Eaton, 2004; Mukamana & Brysiewicz, 2008). us
rape is an act of war that assaults not only the individual woman but also her family
and her community.
e Sexuality and Diversity discussion on punishing women who have been raped
provides insights into how societal reaction to rape, whether during wartime or other-
wise, can add to the suering of rape victims.
SEXUALITY and DIVERSITY
Punishing Women Who Have Been Raped
How would it feel to be raped by your enemies and then rejected by your family and
friends for being sexually violated? Shortly after the war in Kosovo ended in 1999,
reports surfaced in the press of the difficulties that Kosovar women who had been
raped were having as they returned to their homes and families. Despite the tremen-
dous suffering they had already endured from being sexually assaulted, if these women
admitted that they had been raped, they risked being disowned by their families and
friends. Instead of getting the support and compassion that they deserved, which have
been shown to be helpful in healing the wounds caused by trauma, they had to keep
their painful memories, thoughts, and feelings locked away from others or risk being
shunned by their families and communities (Lorch & Mendenhall, 2000).
During the ongoing brutal war in the Democratic Republic of Congo, an estimated
one in three Congolese women have been subjected to gang rape so violent that thou-
sands suer from vaginal stula (rupture of the vaginal wall, which can cause urine and
feces to leak uncontrollably). In some regions of the Congo, as many as 70% of females
of all ages have been raped or sexually mutilated, or both, often while members of their
families or communities were forced to watch the assault (Klapper, 2007; Persky, 2012;
Soguel, 2008). Many of these victimized women, instead of receiving health care, have
been abandoned by their husbands and ostracized by their communities (Longombe et
al., 2008). Recent reports indicate that increasing numbers of men are also being raped
by gangs of militiamen conducting a reign of terror in the Congo. ese male victims
of sexual brutality also become castaways in their communities, derisively referred to as
bush wives (Gettleman, 2009). Sexual assaults of Congolese women are sometimes
perpetrated by women (as many as 40% in a recent study), whereas the vast majority of
male victims are assaulted by men (Johnson et al., 2010).
In a case that shocked people in Western nations and sparked an international out-
cry, a Saudi Arabian court sentenced a woman who had been gang-raped to 6 months in
jail and a public lashing. e victim of this heinous crime was convicted of violating the
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520 CHAPTER 17
nations Islamic law against mixing of the sexes because she was accosted by her rapists
while in a car with a man to whom she was not related. Eventually the Saudi monarch,
King Abdullah, bending to criticism from the United States and other Western nations,
elected to pardon the rape victim, who was 19 at the time of the attack (Shihri, 2007).
Unfortunately, these attitudes are not conned to Kosovo, the Congo, or Saudi Ara-
bia. Research has shown that in the United States some men also tend to blame the vic-
tim of sexual abuse. In a study conducted among multiethnic groups in New York City,
Cuban American men evaluated the teenage female victim of sexual abuse negatively
(Rodriguez-Stednicki & Twaite, 1999). Another study found that Hispanic men in the
United States tended to hold women more responsible for their rapes than did Cau-
casian men (Cowan, 2000). ese cultural attitudes and behaviors have a profoundly
negative eect on the victims of rape and sexual assault. In a study that evaluated 157
victims of violent crime, researchers found that shame and anger play an important
role in determining whether victims will develop posttraumatic stress disorder and
that shame especially plays a role in the severity of the victims subsequent symptoms
(Andrews et al., 2000). us it would appear that cultural values that blame women
who have been raped (and those who uphold and apply them) can be a major contribut-
ing factor to these victims’ continued suering.
The Aftermath of Rape
Whether a person is raped by a stranger, an acquaintance, or a partner, the experience
can be traumatic and can have long-term repercussions. Given the characteristics of
rape—the physical violation and psychological trauma that it inflicts and our societal
attitudes about it—it is understandable that many rape survivors suffer long-lasting
emotional effects. Rape perpetrated by multiple offenders is often more violent and
involves more severe forms of violation than does rape committed by a lone rapist
(Woodhams et al., 2012).
Feelings of shame, anger, fear, guilt, depression, and powerlessness are common (Koss
et al., 2002; Vandeusen & Carr, 2003). One reason that some women feel guilt and
shame is that they are often seen, and see themselves, as being responsible—no matter
what the circumstances—for not preventing unwanted sexual activity from taking place.
Rape survivors may also exhibit a tendency toward subsequent victimization by further
sexual assaults (Littleton et al., 2009; Reese-Weber & Smith, 2011). A recent study of
several hundred college women found that some of these women were at greater risk for
rape due to their use of substances (alcohol, marijuana, etc.) to reduce distress associated
with previous trauma (sexual, physical, emotional abuse) (Messman-Moore et al., 2009).
In addition to the psychological impact of rape, physical symptoms such as nausea,
headaches, gastrointestinal problems, genital injuries, and sleep disorders frequently
occur (Hilden et al., 2005; Ullman & Brecklin, 2003). Approximately 32% of women
and 16% of men who were raped after age 18 reported being physically injured during
the assault (Tjaden & oennes, 1998). Rape survivors may associate sexual activity
with the trauma of their assault. As a result, sexual activity may induce anxiety rather
than desire or arousal (Koss et al., 2002, 2003).
When the emotional and physical reactions women experience following rape
or attempted rape are severe, victims may be classied as suering from posttrau-
matic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD, an ocial diagnostic category of the Ameri-
can Psychiatric Association (2000), refers to the long-term psychological distress that
can develop after a person is subjected to a physically or psychologically traumatic
event (or events). People who experience a profoundly disturbing incident, such as
sexual assault, wartime combat, or a horrendous accident, often exhibit a range of
posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
A psychological disorder caused by
exposure to overwhelmingly painful
events.
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Sexual Coercion521 521
distressing symptoms as an aftermath of the occurrence. ese reactions include dis-
turbing dreams, nightmares, depression, anxiety, and feelings of extreme vulnerability.
In addition, just as combat veterans may have ashbacks of traumatic war experiences,
so too might a rape survivor have vivid ashbacks of the attack in which she reexperi-
ences all the terror of the assault. Research indicates that rape produces one of the
highest rates of PTSD among nonwartime traumatic events (Koss et al., 2002; Ullman
et al., 2007).
Victims often nd that supportive counseling, either individually or in groups, can
help ease the trauma caused by rape (Romeo, 2004; Vandeusen & Carr, 2003). Research
has shown that women who receive help soon after an assault experience less severe
emotional repercussions than women whose treatment is delayed (Campbell, 2006).
Most rape survivors nd that it helps to talk about their assault and the emotional
upheaval they are experiencing. Often the process of reviewing the event allows them
to gain control over their painful feelings and to begin the process of healing. e Let’s
Talk About It box, Helping a Partner or Friend Recover From Rape, suggests ways to
communicate and interact with a rape victim.
Rape and Sexual Assault of Males
Health professionals who work with rape survivors know that men are raped. Although
the vast majority of rape victims are women, men are also targets of sexual aggres-
sion, including rape (Coxell & King, 2010; Davies et al., 2006; Kassing et al., 2005). A
2007 survey conducted on American college campuses found that about 6% of college
men are victims of attempted or completed sexual assault (Paulson, 2011). An exhaus-
tive review of 120 studies of sexual victimization that collectively analyzed data from
more than 100,000 respondents found incidence rates for completed and attempted
male rape by female perpetrators of 3.3% and 5.5%, respectively (Spitzberg, 1999).
The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey of over 16,000 American
adults found that up to 2% of men have been raped, many when they were under age
11 (Rabin, 2011). A recent Department of Justice report indicated that 3% of Ameri-
can men have been raped (Rabin, 2012).
Statistics on the frequency of male sexual victimization have been dicult to obtain
for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that men are even less likely than
women to report that they have been raped (Choudhard et al., 2012; Davies et al., 2006;
Kassing et al., 2005). It is estimated that only 1 in 10 male rapes are reported to the
police (Kassing et al., 2005). One reason for this failure to report may be that men fear
they will be judged harshly if they report abuse. At least one study supports this concern
(Spencer & Tan, 1999). e investigators found that men who reported being sexu-
ally abused were viewed negatively, especially by other men. Victimized men may also
anticipate that law enforcement personnel may not believe that a crime occurred or may
believe that they somehow instigated or asked for the rape (Kassing et al., 2005; Walker
et al., 2005). In addition, men who are socialized to be physically strong and able to
protect themselves may believe that reporting their victimization will reect weakness
or personal blame (Kassing et al., 2005).
e sexual assault of men is rarely reported in the media or in the psychological
and medical literature (Stermac et al., 1996). e result is that little research has been
conducted on the issue of sexual aggression against men (Choudhard et al., 2012). In
fact, only in the last decade or so have many states revised their criminal codes to include
adult males as victims in the denition of rape.
Rapes of males may be perpetrated by heterosexual men, who often commit their
crime with one or more cohorts (Frazier, 1993; Isely & Gehrenbeck-Shim, 1997). As in
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522 CHAPTER 17
Helping a Partner or Friend Recover From Rape
LET’S TALK
ABOUT IT
The rape of a partner or friend can be a difcult experience
for both partners and friends of rape survivors.
To some
degree, partners and close friends are also victimized by the
assault. They may feel a range of emotions, including rage,
disgust, and helplessness.
They may also be confused and
unsure about how to react to a lovers or friend’s victimiza-
tion. This confusion can prove painful for all concerned
because reactions of partners and friends can profoundly
affect a rape survivor’s recovery. In the following list, we
suggest ways to communicate and interact with a rape
victim to help her recover from this traumatic experience.
Some of these suggestions are adapted from two excellent
books: Sexual Solutions (1980), by Michael Castleman, and
“Friends” Raping Friends: Could It Happen to You? (1987),
by Jean Hughes and Bernice Sandler. Although we will fre-
quently refer to the victim as female, our recommendations
are equally applicable to male rape survivors.
1. Listen. Probably the most important thing a person can
do to help a rape victim begin recovering is to listen to
her. A person comforting a rape survivor might under-
standably try to divert her attention from the terrible
event. However, professionals who work with survi-
vors of sexual assault have found that many victims
need to talk repeatedly about the assault to come to
terms with it.
A partner or friend can help by encourag-
ing her to discuss the rape as often as she can, in any
way that she can.
2. Let her know you believe her account of what hap-
pened.
A rape survivor needs to be believed by people
she loves or feels close to. Consequently, it is essential
to accept her version of the assault without question-
ing any of the facts.
A simple statement, such as “What
you describe is an intolerable violation, and I am so
sorry that you had to endure such a dreadful experi-
ence,” will convey both your acceptance of her account
and your empathy with her pain.
3. Let her know that it was not her fault and that she is
not to blame. Many victims of rape believe that they
were somehow responsible for the attack (“I should
not have invited him to my home,“I should have tried
to ght him,” or the like). Such impressions can lead
to profound feelings of guilt. Self-blame is predictive
of more severe PTSD symptoms and less successful
recovery (Najdowski & Ullman, 2009).
Try to head off
these damaging self-recriminations by stating clearly
and calmly, “I know that you are not to blame for what
happened,” or “You are the victim here and not respon-
sible for what happened to you.
4. Control your own emotions. The last thing a rape
survivor needs is the response of the partner who gets
sidetracked by focusing attention on his or her own
anger or imagined shortcomings (“I should have been
along to protect you”). She has just been victimized by
a violent man (or men), and being confronted with her
own partner’s or friends’ outbursts will not help her
regain control.
5. Give comfort. A rape victim is urgently in need of com-
fort, especially from someone she loves or cares about.
She may want to be held, and the nurturing comfort
of being encircled by the arms of someone she trusts
may provide a powerful beginning to the process of
healing. On the other hand, she also may not want to
be touched at all. Respect that wish. Words can also
be quite nurturing. Simply being told “I love you very
much and will be here for you in any way that is right
for you” may offer a great deal of welcome comfort.
6. Allow the victim to make decisions. A rape survivor
may recover more quickly when she is able to decide
for herself how to deal with the assault. Making her
own decisions about what should be done after a rape
is an important step in regaining control over her life
after having been stripped of control by her attacker(s).
Asking some open-ended questions (see Chapter 7)
may help her regain control. Questions might include,
“What kind of living arrangements for the next few
days or weeks would you be comfortable with?” or
“What can I do for you now?” Sometimes suggesting
alternatives can be helpful. For example, while encour-
aging her to take some type of positive action, you
might ask, “Would you like to call the police, go to a
hospital, or call a rape hotline?” Remember, the deci-
sion is hers and one that needs to be respected and
not questioned even if you do not agree with it.
7. Offer shelter. If she does not already live with you,
offer to stay with her at her home, have her stay with
you, or assist her in securing other living arrange-
ments with which she is comfortable.
Again, this is her
choice to make.
8. Continue to provide support. In the days, weeks, and
even months following the rape, partners and friends
can continue to offer empathy, support, and reassur-
ance to a rape survivor.
They can encourage her to
resume a normal life and be there for her when she
feels particularly vulnerable, fearful, or angry. They can
take time to listen, even if it means hearing the same
things over and over again. If her assailant is prose-
cuted, she is likely to need support and understanding
throughout the often arduous legal proceedings.
9. Be patient about resuming sexual activity. Resuming
sexual activity after a rape may present problems for
both the victim and her partner. Rape may precipitate
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Sexual Coercion523 523
rape of women, violence and power are often associated with the sexual assault of men.
e possibility of being raped is a serious issue among male homosexuals because they
are often the victims of such attacks. Although homosexual men are frequently raped
by heterosexual men, the rapist is often a homosexual man who is a current or former
sexual partner (Hickson et al., 1994; Walker et al., 2005).
Rape of inmates in penal institutions is a serious problem (Bell, 2006; Hensley et al.,
2003; Richters et al., 2010). One comprehensive survey of almost 2,000 male inmates
in seven prisons found that 21% had been sexually threatened or assaulted and 7%
acknowledged being raped (Struckman-Johnson & Struckman-Johnson, 2000). Men
who do the raping typically consider themselves heterosexual. When released, they usu-
ally resume sexual relations with women. e men who are raped often experience bru-
tal gang assaults. Such a man may become the sexual partner of one particular dominant
inmate for protection from others (Braen, 1980).
If a man is forced to penetrate someones vagina, anus, or mouth with his penis, this
is also classied as rape (McCabe & Wauchope, 2005). Accounts of men being sexually
coerced by women who use threats of bodily harm have been reported with increasing
frequency (Kassing et al., 2005). e idea that mature males can be raped by women has
been widely rejected because it has been assumed that a man cannot function sexually
in a state of extreme anxiety or fear. However, this common impression is not accurate.
Alfred Kinsey and his associates were perhaps the earliest sex researchers to note that
both sexes can function sexually in a variety of severe emotional states. Sexual response
during sexual assault, particularly if orgasm occurs, may be a source of great confusion
and anxiety for both female and male rape survivors.
Sexual assault of males also occurs during war. However, men as victims of wartime
rape and sexual assault have received only scant media coverage and limited research
attention. Among the few studies in this area are investigations of male sexual assault
during wars in Greece (Lindholm et al., 1980), El Salvador (Agger & Jensen, 1994),
and Croatia (Medical Center for Human Rights, 1995). e widespread belief that
only females can be victimized by sexual assault has led many national legal systems
to bury the issue of wartime male sexual assault under the more generalized categories
of torture or abuse (Carlson, 1997). However, awareness that men also can be victim-
ized was expanded when the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia
reported that many men were raped or otherwise sexually assaulted during the conict
in that region (Carlson, 1997).
sexual difculties for the woman; she may not want to
be sexually intimate for quite a while.
However, some
women may desire relations very soon after the attack,
perhaps for assurance that their lovers still care for
them and do not consider them “tainted.
a. Open-ended questions may help to fuel dialogue
about resuming sexual sharing.
Possibly helpful
queries include “What are your thoughts and
feelings about being sexual with me?” or “What
kinds of concerns do you have about resuming our
sexual activity?”
b.
Some women may prefer not to have intercourse
for a while, opting instead for just closeness and
affection. Deciding when and how to engage in
intimate sharing is best left up to the woman.
Her
partner’s support in this matter is important.
Even
when sexual intimacy resumes, it may be some
time before she is able to relax and respond the
way she did before the rape.
A patient, sensitive
partner can help her reach the point where she
is again able to experience satisfying sexual
intimacy.
10. Consider counseling. Sometimes a rape victim needs
more help than lovers, friends, and families are able
to provide, no matter how supportive they are. People
close to her may recognize these needs and encour-
age her to seek professional help. Short- or long-term
therapy may help a victim recover from the emotional
trauma and reconstruct her life. Similarly, partners
of sexually assaulted women may also need help cop-
ing with severe conicts and deep feelings of rage
and guilt.
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524 CHAPTER 17
Sexual Abuse of Children
The sexual (and physical and emotional) abuse of children in U.S. society and through-
out the world is a problem of staggering proportions. Child sexual abuse can have long-
lasting, painful effects. Consider the following:
When I was 10, my mother remarried, and we moved into my stepfathers house.
When I was 11 he started coming upstairs to say goodnight to me. The touch-
ing began soon after and lasted for years. I used to just lie there and pray that
he would go away, but he never did. For a long time I thought it was my fault.
I had trouble being in a sexual relationship because I felt so guilty, so dirty. I
thought that if I didn’t exist this never would have happened. I think my mother
may have known, but she never did anything. She didn’t want to upset things,
because she was afraid of being alone again, of being poor. (Authors’ files)
In this section, we look at the prevalence of child sexual abuse, the eects it has on
many of its victims, what can be done to reduce the incidence of such abuse, and how
to help those who have been abused. Child sexual abuse is dened as engagement by
an adult in sexual contact of any kind with a child (inappropriate touching, oral–genital
stimulation, coitus, etc.). Even if no overt violence or threats of violence occur, such
interaction is considered coercive and illegal because a child is not considered mature
enough to provide informed consent to sexual involvement. Informed consent implies
the possession of adequate intellectual and emotional maturity to understand fully both
the meaning and possible consequences of a particular action. Adults exploitation of the
naiveté of unsuspecting victims has become a serious problem for children who use the
Internet, as discussed later in this chapter.
Mothers fears about the vulnerability of their female children to sexual victimiza-
tion can lead to extreme protective measures, as described in the following Sexuality and
Diversity discussion.
SEXUALITY and DIVERSITY
Breast Ironing to Protect Girls From Sexual Victimization
In some areas of West and Central Africa, female relatives attempt to protect girls
from sexual abuse and rape by means of breast ironing. When girls begin to develop
breasts, older women, usually mothers, massage and pound their daughters newly
forming breasts with heated, hard objects. This procedure causes the breast tissue to
break down, and the young girls breasts flatten and sag, changes that their mothers
hope will hide the girls’ sexual development. Breast ironing is very painful and often
causes blisters, abscesses, and infections. Many girls who have been subjected to this
painful procedure also have difficulty breast-feeding after giving birth. In areas where
breast ironing is traditionally practiced, about one in four teenagers and an estimated
4 million women overall have had their breasts altered in this manner (Helfer, 2006;
Ndonko & Ngoo, 2006; Saah, 2006).
Most researchers distinguish between nonrelative child sexual abuse, referred to as
pedophilia or child molestation, and incest, which is sexual contact between two people
who are related (one of whom is often a child). Incest includes sexual contact between sib-
lings as well as sexual contact between children and their parents, grandparents, uncles, or
aunts. Incest can occur between related adults, but more commonly it involves a child and
child sexual abuse
An adult’s engaging in sexual contact
of any kind with a child, including
inappropriate touching, oral–genital
stimulation, and coitus.
pedophilia or child molestation
Sexual contact between an adult and
a child who are not related.
incest
Sexual contact between two people
who are related (one of whom is often
a child), other than husband and wife.
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Sexual Coercion525 525
an adult relative (or an older sibling) perpetrator. Although its denition varies slightly
from culture to culture, incest is one of the world’s most widely prohibited sexual behaviors.
Each state has its own legal codes that determine whether sexual interaction between
an adult and a younger person is considered child molestation (usually if the younger
person is under age 12), statutory rape (usually ages 12 to 16 or 17), or a consenting
sexual act. e age of consent in the United States tends to range from 16 to 18, but it
can be as low as 14 or 15. e legal codes may appear ludicrous at times, particularly in
cases of teenage interactions in which one partner is technically an adult and the other
technically a minor, although only one or two years separate their ages.
Incest occurs at all socioeconomic levels and is illegal regardless of the ages of the
participants. However, an incestuous relationship between consenting adult relatives is
considerably less likely to precipitate legal action than one between an adult and a child.
Although it has been commonly assumed that father-daughter incest is most preva-
lent, studies have shown that brother-sister and rst-cousin contacts are more com-
mon (Canavan et al., 1992). Sexual relations between brothers and sisters are seldom
discovered, and when they are, they do not typically elicit the extreme reactions that
father-daughter sexual contacts usually do. However, coercive sexual abuse by a sibling
or a parent often has a devastating eect on the child victim.
e incestuous involvement of a father (or stepfather) with his daughter often begins
without the child understanding its signicance. It may start as playful activities involving
wrestling, tickling, kissing, and touching. Over time the activities may expand to include
touching of the breasts and genitals, perhaps followed by oral or manual stimulation and
intercourse. In most cases, the father relies on his position of authority or on the pair’s
emotional closeness rather than on physical force to fulll his desires. He may pressure his
daughter into sexual activity by reassuring her that he is teaching” her something impor-
tant, by oering rewards, or by exploiting her need for love. Later, when she realizes that
the behavior is not appropriate or when she nds her fathers demands to be unpleasant
and traumatizing, it may be dicult for her to escape. Occasionally, a daughter may value
the relationship for the special recognition or privileges it brings her. e incestuous
involvement may come to public attention when she gets angry with her father, often for
nonsexual reasons, and tells on him. Sometimes a mother may discover, to her horror,
what has been transpiring between her husband and daughter. Other times, the mother
may have been aware of the incest but allowed it to continue for reasons of her own.
ese may include shame, fear of reprisals, concern about having her family disrupted,
or the fact that the incestuous activity allows her to avoid her husbands demands for sex.
Father-daughter sexual abuse is more likely to be reported to authorities than other
varieties of incest. However, a child often does not report being victimized because of fear
that the family may be disrupted—through imprisonment for the father, economic dif-
culties for the mother, and perhaps placement in foster homes for the victim and other
siblings. Separation or divorce may result. Sometimes the victim herself is blamed. ese
potential consequences of revealing an incestuous relationship place tremendous pres-
sures on the child to keep quiet. For these and other reasons, she may be extremely reluc-
tant to tell anyone else in her family, let alone another adult such as a teacher or neighbor.
Characteristics of People Who Sexually Abuse Children
No classic profile of the pedophile offender has been identified, other than that most
pedophiles are heterosexual males and are known to the victim (Murray, 2000; Salter et
al., 2003). Child molesters cover the spectrum of social class, educational achievement,
intelligence, occupation, religion, and ethnicity. Evidence suggests that many pedo-
phile offenders, especially those who are prosecuted, are shy, lonely, poorly informed
about sexuality, and moralistic or religious (Bauman et al., 1984; Hall & Hall, 2007).
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526 CHAPTER 17
Many are likely to have poor interpersonal and sexual relations with other adults and
may feel socially inadequate and inferior (Dreznick, 2003; Minor & Dwyer, 1997).
However, it is not uncommon to encounter pedophiles outside the legal system who
are well educated, socially adept, civic-minded, and financially successful (Baur, 1995).
They often pick their victims from among family friends, neighbors, or acquaintances
(Murray, 2000). Relating to these children sexually may be a way of coping with pow-
erful feelings of inadequacy that are likely to emerge in sociosexual relationships with
other adults.
Other characteristics of some child molesters include alcoholism, severe marital prob-
lems, sexual diculties, poor emotional adjustment, and various brain disorders (McKibben
et al., 1994; Mendez & Shapira, 2011). Many of these oenders were sexually victimized
themselves during their own childhood (Bouvier, 2003; Seto & Lalumiere, 2010).
Like pedophiles, perpetrators of incest are primarily males who cannot be easily
identied or categorized by a classic prole. Rather, “they are a complex, heterogeneous
group of individuals who look like everyone else (Scheela & Stern, 1994, p. 91). How-
ever, the incest oender does tend to share some of the traits of many pedophiles. He
tends to be economically disadvantaged, a heavy drinker, unemployed, devoutly reli-
gious, and emotionally immature (Rosenberg, 1988; Valliant et al., 2000). His behavior
might result from general tendencies toward pedophilia, severe feelings of inadequacy in
adult sexual relations, or rejection by a hostile spouse; his actions can also be an accom-
paniment to alcoholism or other psychological disturbances (Lee et al., 2002; Rosen-
berg, 1988). He also tends to have certain distorted ideas about adult-child sex. For
example, he may think that a child who does not resist him desires sexual contact, that
adult-child sex is an eective way for children to learn about sex, that a fathers relation-
ship with his daughter is enhanced by having sexual contact with her, and that a child
does not report such contact because she enjoys it (Abel et al., 1984).
Prevalence of Child Sexual Abuse
Evidence indicates that it is exceedingly difficult for children who are sexu-
ally abused to reveal their victimization to others, especially adults. In spite
of years of media revelations of abuse of children by members of the clergy,
the real shocker is remembering that most child sexual abuse victims arent
connected to churches, dont file lawsuits and never speak publicly at all”
(Nielsen, 2010, E1).
One especially signicant reason that child sexual abuse often is not
reported is that adults who are legally required to report sexual abuse of chil-
dren have little reason to fear punishment if they remain silent (Heath, 2011).
Examination of police and court records from across the USA found that
a combination of infrequent enforcement and small penalties means adults
often have little to fear from concealing abuse” (Heath, 2011, p. 1A). Most
states prosecute no more than one or two adults each year for failing to report
abuse (Heath, 2011). e recent sexual abuse scandal at Penn State University
involving Jerry Sandusky, a former assistant coach of the Penn State football
team, has unleashed increased scrutiny of mandatory abuse-reporting laws.
It is hoped that more adults will take an active role in reporting child sexual
abuse, if not as a moral choice then out of concern about possible prosecution.
Because child sexual abuse often goes unreported at the time it occurs,
researchers have relied heavily on reports provided by adults regarding
their childhood experiences of sexual abuse. e estimates of child abuse
in U.S. society are startling. Various surveys indicate that the proportion of
© Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/ZUMAPRESS.com/Alamy
Jerry Sandusky, a former assistant football coach
at
Penn State University, was convicted in July
2012 on 45 counts of child sexual abuse.
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Sexual Coercion527 527
girls victimized ranges from 20% to 33%, whereas comparable gures for boys range
from 9% to 16% (Finkelhor, 1993, 1994; Gorey & Leslie, 1997; Guidry, 1995). To
date, the most comprehensive eort to estimate the prevalence of child sexual abuse
was a 1997 meta-analysis in which data from 16 separate studies were combined and
analyzed. Each of the investigations—14 U.S. and 2 Canadian studies—surveyed
adult subjects who were asked to recall experiences of sexual abuse inicted on them
before they reached age 18. Combining these diverse samples yielded an aggregate
sample of about 14,000 respondents. A summarization of all the studies indicated
that approximately 22% of the women and 9% of the men reported being sexually
abused as children (Gorey & Leslie, 1997).
We should also realize that, although the clinical literature has indicated that more
girls than boys are victims of sexual abuse, the number of young boys who are sexually
molested in the United States may be substantially higher than previously estimated
(Denov, 2003a, 2003b). In fact, two surveys found that almost one fourth of male par-
ticipants reported having experienced some form of sexual abuse by age 13 (Dilorio et
al., 2002; Stander et al., 2002).
Mental health professionals have become increasingly aware that, although most
sexual abusers of children are male, some children, both female and male, are sexually
abused by women, often their mothers (Denov, 2003b; Hartwick et al., 2007; Strick-
land, 2008). e belief that women sometimes sexually victimize children has been
slow to emerge, both because of the prevailing notion that such abuse is a male activ-
ity (Hartwick et al., 2007) and because this subject is more of a taboo because female
sexual abuse is more threatening—it undermines feelings about how women should
relate to children (Elliott, 1992, p. 12).
e preponderance of male perpetrators and male victims of child sexual abuse has
become all too familiar via widespread media reports about clergy sexual abuse. is
scandal has cost the Catholic Church in the United States over $2 billion in legal fees.
In the authors home state, the Oregon Province of the Catholic Church has led for
bankruptcy as a result of numerous sexual abuse lawsuits. Many other Catholic arch-
dioceses and dioceses throughout the United States have led for bankruptcy protec-
tion in recent years.
e Catholic Church in America recently announced the results of a study that
allegedly provided information about the causes and context of sexual abuse of minors
by Catholic priests (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2011). Among the
most egregious conclusions of this study was an attempt to shift blame for the sexual
abuse of minors by priests to the culture of free love and social upheaval characteristic
of America in the 1960s and 1970s (Roberts, 2011). In their misguided attempt to
redirect blame from where it belongs, squarely on the shoulders of the perpetrators,
the authors of the report concluded that the abuse of children had little or nothing to
do with priestly traits. e document stated that “[a] very small percentage of priests
who had allegations of abuse were motivated by pathological disorders such as pedo-
philia (p. 5). is conclusion contrasts markedly to the denition of pedophilia in this
textbook, which describes pedophilia as sexual contact between an adult and a child who
are not related. e perpetrators were adult priests and most of the victims were minor
children. erefore, the denial of pedophilia in the report commissioned by Catholic
bishops is clearly nonsensical.
e statistics on the prevalence of sexual abuse of children have aroused signicant
controversy. Some people claim that the statistics underestimate the problem, and oth-
ers claim that they overestimate it. One of the most controversial types of reports has
concerned the case of adults reporting so-called recovered memories of sexual abuse
that they endured as children.
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528 CHAPTER 17
Recovered Memories of Childhood Sexual Abuse
The media have reported numerous cases in which alleged perpetrators of sexual abuse
have been accused and convicted based on the testimony of adult women who recover
memories of their childhood sexual abuse. This recovery” has usually occurred dur-
ing psychotherapy. But can a person repress memories of sexual abuse that may have
occurred years or decades earlier and then suddenly or gradually recover” them after
exposure to certain triggering stimuli? Or can a memory” of an event that never hap-
pened in childhood be suggested to an adult and then remembered” as true? These
questions lie at the heart of a debate among clinicians, researchers, and lawyers.
Skeptics of recovered memories claim that thousands of families and individuals
have been devastated by the widespread inclination to accept claims of recovered memo-
ries at face value, in the absence of validating evidence. ese skeptics oer as proof of
their concern cases in which falsely accused and convicted individuals were later exoner-
ated, either by the legal system or by victim recantation (Colangelo, 2007; Frazier, 2006;
Gardner, 2006).
e possibility of being falsely accused of such a heinous crime is the substance of
nightmares. But just how often are the accusations false; that is, what is the probability
that recovered memories are imagined? To gain some perspective on this issue, let us
briey consider some of the evidence.
Support for the legitimacy of recovered memories has been provided by several stud-
ies. In one investigation, 129 adult women who had experienced childhood sexual abuse
in the 1970s were identied and interviewed in the 1990s. Of this group, 38% did not
recall the abuse that had been reported and documented 17 years earlier. e author of
this investigation concluded that, if having no recall of child sexual abuse is a common
occurrence for adult women, as indicated by the study’s results, then later recovery of
child sexual abuse by some women should not be surprising” (L. Williams, 1994, p. 1174).
In another study, 56% of 45 adult women survivors of childhood sexual abuse indicated
that they had been amnesic about their abuse for varied lengths of time, and 16% reported
remembering their abuse while receiving psychotherapy (Rodriguez et al., 1997). A survey
of several hundred university students found that 20% of 111 victims of childhood sexual
abuse reported that they had recovered memories of abuse (Melchert & Parker, 1997).
Finally, a review of the research literature dealing with recovered memory reported nding
30 studies of adult survivors of child sexual abuse in which between 19% and 59% of the
participants forgot and later recalled some or all of the abuse (Stoler et al., 2001).
On the other hand, several researchers have expressed skepticism about recovered
memories of childhood sexual abuse. Some have argued that repressed memories are
inadvertently planted in suggestible clients by overzealous or poorly trained psychothera-
pists who believe that most psychological problems stem from childhood sexual abuse
(Colangelo, 2007; Gardner, 2006; Gross, 2004). Numerous studies have demonstrated
the relative ease with which memories of events that never occurred can be created in the
research laboratory (Brainerd & Reyna, 1998; Loftus et al., 1994; Porter et al., 1999). In
one 11-week study, for instance, young children were asked at weekly intervals whether
they had ever experienced ve distinct events. Four of the events were real, and one—get-
ting treated in the hospital for an injured nger—was ctitious. e children readily rec-
ognized the real events. However, more than one third also became gradually convinced
over the course of the 11 weeks that one of their ngers had been injured. In some cases,
they even remembered” elaborate details about their injuries. Many continued to insist
that these false memories were true even after being told otherwise (Ceci et al., 1994).
So where are we now on this controversial issue? A number of professional orga-
nizations, including the American Psychological Association, the American Psychi-
atric Association, and the American Medical Association, have all issued statements
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Sexual Coercion529 529
supporting the belief that memories can be recovered later in life. ese professional
organizations also acknowledge that a memory” may be suggested and then remem-
bered as true. In recent years the debate about recovered memories has subsided as
mental health professionals have searched for common ground and ways to be more
collaborative and less adversarial (Colangelo, 2007). Research evidence indicates that
recovered memories may be ctitious at times and authentic at other times (Lindsay et
al., 2009). ere is now general agreement that traumatic memories are often processed
dierently than memories of ordinary events and that recovered memories are possible
while not necessarily accurate in their entirety” (Colangelo, 2007, p. 96). As profession-
als continue to discuss the issues surrounding recovered memories, it is important to
remember that, despite the media spotlight on defendants who claim they have been
falsely accused, sexual abuse of children is a fact, not a question. e recovered-memo-
ries debate must not turn back the clock to a time when victims of sexual abuse did not
report their traumatic experiences out of fear of not being believed. In the same spirit,
we must act responsibly to protect the innocent from wrongful accusations that stem
from false memories.
Pedophiles in Cyberspace
Before the emergence of the Internet, pedophiles were largely isolated. Now, with sev-
eral pedophile support groups online, child molesters can exchange child pornography,
discuss their molestation experiences, validate each other’s abusive acts, and secure rein-
forcement for the shared belief that sexual interaction between adults and children is
acceptable (Lambert & O’Halloran, 2008; Malesky & Ennis, 2004). The Internet has
also facilitated victimization of children by pedophiles, who, hiding behind a veil of
anonymity, roam cyberspace relatively undetected, posing all sorts of pretenses in their
efforts to lure unsuspecting victims” (Philaretou, 2005, p. 181). These cyberspace pred-
ators can explore the bulletin boards on the Internet and cruise chat rooms designed for
children and teenagers. These chat rooms provide rich hunting grounds for adults seek-
ing unsuspecting kids in need of attention and kids with confused notions of sexuality.
While most of the pedophiles who are active in cyberspace are males, there is
mounting evidence that almost one third of online pedophiles are female (Lambert &
O’Halloran, 2008). Like male cyberspace predators, women are using the Internet to
express a sexual interest in children and they display similar characteristics to male indi-
viduals engaged in the same processes (Lambert & O’Halloran, 2008, p. 284).
Typically, pedophiles rst gain a child’s trust by appearing to be genuinely empathic and
interested in the childs problems and concerns. en they may try to get their intended
victim to agree to e-mail, postal mail, or phone contacts. Next they may send the child por-
nographic materials suggesting that adult–child sexual interaction is normal and appropri-
ate. e nal step is to arrange a meeting. One case in which this strategy was used involved
a 32-year-old Seattle engineer, who used the Internet to lure a 13-year-old girl, whom he
then repeatedly raped. He was sentenced in 2000 to a 23-year prison term. In New York
State a 15-year-old boy’s statement led police to a number of prominent local men who had
been systematically abusing local boys, some as young as 13 (West, 2000). Many Internet
sex crimes do not involve forcible sexual assault and more closely resemble statutory rape
in which adult oenders use the Internet and face-to-face encounters to “meet, develop
relationships with, and openly seduce underage teenagers (Wolak et al., 2008, p. 111).
In September 1996 the U.S. Congress passed the Communications Decency Act
(CDA), which prohibited the distribution of indecent materials to minors by computer.
In July 1997 the Supreme Court overruled this legislation on constitutional grounds, con-
cluding that the CDA would seriously erode the right of free speech (Levy, 1997). In
2002 the Supreme Court, in further defense of this right, struck down a section of the
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530 CHAPTER 17
federal child pornography law that made it a crime to own or sell computer-created images
of children engaged in sex (“virtual” child pornography). According to Justice Anthony
Kennedy, making it a crime to show sexual images that only appear to be children would
damage legitimate lmmakers, photographers, and advertisers (Savage, 2002). As a result
of this decision, it is legal to display on the Internet both computer-generated images of
children in sexual situations and depictions of minors by adult actors in sexual situations,
provided that no real children are shown or composited into a sex scene.
Software lters may be more eective than legal prohibitions in limiting youthful
access to Internet pornography. However, it is noteworthy that many U.S. households
with children do not use such lters (Times Digest, 2009).
Some of the gateways to the Internet, such as America Online (AOL), have attempted
to protect children from cyberspace predators by using guards to monitor kids-only
chat rooms for inappropriate or suspicious dialogue. Unfortunately, these eorts are
only minimally eective, because private messages cannot be screened. Knowledgeable
cyberspace pedophiles are most likely to make conversations private before making
inappropriate overtures. A decision by MySpace.com to apply technologies designed to
block access of convicted sex oenders to this popular online hangout is an encouraging
development in eorts to protect youth from cyberspace predators (Barnard, 2008). A
number of states have recently established laws that prohibit sex oenders from visiting
social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace (Wynton, 2011).
It is becoming increasingly common for law enforcement ocers to troll chat rooms
looking for pedophiles who prey on youthful victims and for text messages, photos, and
website posts that can serve as evidence (Younger, 2011). Classroom instruction on how
to nd and prosecute cyberspace predators has become more widespread as law enforce-
ment ocials seek to expand their arsenal of methods to combat sex oenders who lurk
in cyberspace (Roman, 2011).
Even if widely applied and eective laws or in-house procedures existed to curb cyber-
space pedophilia, the responsibility for protecting children resides with parents. Just as
most of us would not allow our children to play unsupervised in dangerous places, we
should not allow them to cruise cyberspace or spend time in chat rooms without super-
vision. One potentially helpful strategy is to keep computers in a central location where
children can be monitored more easily when they go online. However, parental moni-
toring of their childrens cyberspace activities has become increasingly dicult in recent
years with the availability of all kinds of mobile devices for surng the Internet (Feldman,
2011). Parents should be clear that a child should never meet a cyberspace acquaintance in
person without a parent or another responsible adult present. Finally, parents concerned
about cyberspace pornography may wish to purchase Internet ltering software, such as
NetNanny or Cybersitter, designed to block childrens access to websites with obscene
pictures or words. One recently developed social network protection system, SocialShield,
provides parents with tools to help them protect their childrens Internet safety.
Effects of Child Sexual Abuse
Much research suggests that child sexual abuse can be a severely traumatizing and emo-
tionally damaging experience, with long-term negative consequences for many of the
victims (Miner et al., 2006; Putman, 2009; Zwickl & Merriman, 2011). Clinical contact
with adult survivors of child sexual abuse often reveals memories of a childhood filled
with distress and confusion. Survivors speak of their loss of childhood innocence, the
contamination and interruption of normal sexual development, and a profound sense of
betrayal by a relative, family friend, priest or clergyperson, or community leader.
A number of factors inuence the severity of a child victims response to sexual abuse.
e longer the molestation goes on, the worse the prognosis is for recovery from the
SEXUALHEALTH
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Sexual Coercion531 531
trauma of the abuse (Brown et al., 2008; McLean & Gallop, 2003). Feelings of powerless-
ness and betrayal may be especially pronounced when physical force is used to perpetrate
an act of child sexual abuse or when the victim has a close relationship to the oender.
ese two factors—physical force and victim-oender relationship—probably correlate
most strongly with subsequent negative consequences for survivors of child sexual abuse
(Brown et al., 2008; Hanson et al., 2001). Other factors known to inuence how a child
responds to sexual abuse include the age of the victim and perpetrator at the onset of
the abuse, the victims feelings of responsibility for the situation, and the number of per-
petrators (Brown et al., 2008). e younger the child, the greater the discrepancy in age
between victim and perpetrator, the stronger the feelings of responsibility, and the higher
the number of perpetrators, the greater the severity of a child’s response to sexual abuse.
Many victims of child sexual abuse have diculty forming intimate adult relationships
(Rumstein-McKean & Hunsley, 2001; Vandeusen & Carr, 2003). When relationships are
established, they often lack emotional and sexual fulllment (Feiring et al., 2009; Kris-
tensen & Lau, 2011). For both sexes, a strong link exists between sexual abuse in childhood
and sexual diculties in adulthood (Camuso & Rellini, 2010; Zwickl & Merriman, 2011;
Staples et al., 2011). Other common symptoms of sexual abuse survivors include low self-
esteem, guilt, shame, a self-image of badness and low expectations for future happiness,
depression, alienation, a lack of trust in others, revulsion at being touched, drug and alcohol
abuse, obesity, elevated suicide rates, a predisposition to being repeatedly victimized in a
variety of ways, and long-term medical problems, such as chronic pelvic pain and gastroin-
testinal disorders (Balsam et al., 2011; Putman, 2009; Reese-Weber & Smith, 2011).
Posttraumatic stress disorder, a common occurrence in adult women who have expe-
rienced rape, is also prevalent among many females who are sexually abused in childhood.
About half of all victims of sexual abuse meet the criteria specied for PTSD (Frazier et al.,
2009). Symptoms of PTSD in children include nightmares; psychic numbing (diminished
responsiveness to the outside world); lack of interest in previously enjoyed activities; avoid-
ing thoughts, feelings, or activities that produce memories of the abuse; irrational fears of
being left by caregivers; excessive daydreaming; forgetfulness; and memory decits (Frazier
et al., 2009; Putman, 2009). Finally, studies reveal that adult survivors of child sexual abuse
often exhibit detrimental parenting practices, such as the use of inconsistent or harsh disci-
pline and inadequate supervision of their children (Martsolf & Draucker, 2008).
A variety of treatment approaches have emerged to help survivors of child sexual
abuse resolve issues regarding these experiences and their emotional aftermath (Put-
nam, 2003; McPherson et al., 2012; Vandeusen & Carr, 2003). ese treatment strat-
egies range from individual therapy to group and couple-oriented approaches. Most
metropolitan areas in the United States also have self-help support organizations for
survivors of sexual abuse. (If you want more information about how to seek professional
therapeutic assistance, we suggest reviewing the guidelines in Chapter 14.)
Preventing Child Sexual Abuse
Most child sexual abuse is perpetrated by someone known to the victim. Thus some
health professionals suggest that many children can avoid being victimized if they are
taught about their right to say no, the difference between okay” and not-okay” touches,
and strategies for coping with an adult’s attempt to coerce them into inappropriate inti-
mate contact. A recent study of sex offenders revealed that childrens saying no to the
offender is an effective strategy for preventing child sexual abuse (Leclerc et al., 2011).
As indicated in Chapter 12, parents often avoid discussing sex with their children.
erefore it is probably unrealistic to expect better parent–child communication to sig-
nicantly protect children. Furthermore, parents themselves are often the abusers. e
following list, drawn from the writings of a number of child abuse specialists, oers
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532 CHAPTER 17
suggestions for preventing child sexual abuse. ey may be helpful to parents, educa-
tors, and other caregivers of children.
1. It is important to discuss sexual abuse prevention strategies with young chil-
dren because victims are often younger than age 7. Be sure to include boys,
because they too can be abused.
2. Avoid making a discussion of child sexual abuse unduly frightening. It is impor-
tant that children be suciently concerned so that they will be on the lookout for
potentially abusive adult behavior. However, they should also be condent in their
ability to avoid such a situation.
3. Take time to carefully explain the dierences between okay touches (pats,
snuggles, and hugs) and not-okay touches that make a child feel uncomfortable
or confused. Not-okay touches can be explained as touching under the panties
or underpants or touching areas that bathing suits cover. Be sure to indicate that
a child should not have to touch an adult in these areas even if the adult says it is
all right. It is also a good idea to explain not-okay kisses (prolonged lip contact or
tongue in mouth).
4. Encourage children to believe that they have rights—the right to control their
bodies and the right to say no when they are being touched in a way that makes
them uncomfortable.
5. Encourage children to tell someone right away if an adult has touched them
in a way that is inappropriate or if an adult has made them do something with
which they are uncomfortable. Emphasize that you will not be angry with them
and that they will be okay when they tell, even if someone else has told them
that they will get in trouble. Stress that no matter what happened, it was not
their fault and they will not be blamed. Also, warn them that not all adults will
believe them. Tell them to keep telling people until they nd someone like you
who will believe them.
6. Discuss with children some of the strategies that adults might use to get children
to participate in sexual activities. For example, tell them to trust their own feelings
when they think something is wrong, even if an adult who is a friend or relative
says that it is okay and that he or she is “teaching” them something helpful. Given
that many adults use the this is our secret” strategy, it can be particularly helpful
to explain the dierence between a secret (something one is never to tell—a bad
idea) and a surprise (a good idea because it is something one tells later to make
someone happy).
7. Discuss strategies for getting away from uncomfortable or dangerous situations.
Let children know that it is okay to scream, yell, run away, or get assistance from a
friend or trusted adult.
8. Encourage children to state clearly to an adult who touches them inappro-
priately that they will tell a particular responsible adult about what went on.
Interviews with perpetrators of child sexual abuse have revealed that many
of them would be deterred from their abusive actions if a child said that she
or he would tell a specic adult about the assault (Budin & Johnson, 1989;
Daro, 1991).
9. Perhaps one of the most important things to incorporate in this prevention
discussion, particularly for parents, is the message that private touching can be
a loving and pleasurable experience, as they will discover when they grow older
and meet someone they care for or love. Without some discussion of the posi-
tive aspects of sexuality, there is a risk that a child will develop a negative view
of any kind of sexual contact between people, regardless of the nature of their
relationship.
SEXUALHEALTH
Elementary school students light
the “Candle of
Hope,” in recognition
of National Child
Abuse Prevention
Month.
AP Photo/Merced Sun-Star, Marci Stenberg
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Sexual Coercion533 533
When the Child Tells
Research demonstrates that children who have been sexually abused often either delay dis-
closure of the abuse to a parent or another adult or do not tell at all (Goodman-Brown et
al., 2003; Leander et al., 2007). A recent Swedish study found that sexually abused children
are markedly more likely to disclose the abuse to a friend their own age than to an adult
(Priebe & Svedin, 2008). Sexually abused boys may be less likely than abused girls to dis-
close the abuse, for reasons similar to those expressed by adult males who have been sexually
assaulted (shame, fear of negative responses from others, etc.) (Sorsoli et al., 2008). Many
children do not disclose their abuse to an adult until they have reached adulthood, if then
(Berliner & Conte, 1995; Goodman-Brown et al., 2003). Fears of retribution and aban-
donment, and feelings of complicity, embarrassment, guilt, and shame all conspire to silence
children and inhibit their disclosures of abuse (Goodman-Brown et al., 2003, p. 526).
As described previously, children suer many adverse eects of sexual abuse. eir
fears about potential consequences of revealing their victimization and their resultant
hesitancy to reveal it further magnify their misery. Furthermore, the emotional trauma
that a child experiences as a result of a sexual encounter with an adult may be intensied
by excessive parental reactions (Davies, 1995). When telling a parent what happened,
children may merely be relaying a sense of discomfort over something they do not fully
understand. If parents react with extreme agitation, children are likely to respond with
increased emotional negativity, developing a sense of being implicated in something ter-
rible and often feeling extremely guilty about having participated in such an event. Chil-
dren may feel guilty about such experiences even without parental displays of distress,
because they sense the guilt of the person who molested them.
It is important that parents respond appropriately to instances of child abuse involv-
ing their child. Such acts should not be ignored! While remaining calm in the face of
their child’s revelation, parents should take great precautions to see that the child is not
alone with the oender again. In many instances children are repeatedly molested by the
same person, and they may come to feel a sense of obligation and guilt. It is essential to
ensure that the child is protected from further experiences of this kind. Because it is also
likely that the child will not have been the oender’s only victim, it is essential to report
the oender to the police to protect other children.
Sexual Harassment
Whether in industry, the military, or academia, sexual harassment is widespread in
U.S. society. Sexual harassment is more than just a demand for sexual favors. Sexual
harassment can also occur when peoples actions create a hostile or offensive working
environment. One woman offered her experience:
I was the first woman they hired at that level. I was proud of what I had accom-
plished and looked forward to the challenges, but it has been much harder than
I expected. I have been amazed and disgusted by the jokes and the unbeliev-
able crude remarks that some men have made. People have sent me the most
disgusting e-mails, and every day I get obscene messages on my voice mail. I
spoke to my boss about this and told him how upsetting it was to me, but he
told me that I needed to be a “team player” and that this was just the guys’
way of welcoming me to the group. Maybe it shouldn’t bother me as much as
it does, but it is hurting my work. I’m having trouble concentrating, and I cringe
every time I listen to my messages. (Authors’ files)
Critical Thinking Question
When children have been sexually abused,
what steps should be taken to reduce the
potentially adverse effects of the abuse?
sexual harassment
Unwelcome sexual advances,
requests for sexual favors, and other
verbal or physical conduct of a sexual
nature in the workplace or academic
setting.
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534 CHAPTER 17
Sexual harassment in the workplace is prohibited by Title VII of the 1964 Civil
Rights Act. In 1980 the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued
guidelines on sexual harassment. ese guidelines make it clear that both verbal and
physical harassment are illegal:
Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physi-
cal conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when (1) submission
to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an
individual’s employment, (2) submission to or rejection of such conduct by an
individual is used as a basis for employment decisions affecting such individual,
or (3) such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an
individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive
working environment. (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 1980, pp.
74676–74677)
e EEOC guidelines describe two kinds of sexual harassment. One form, com-
monly labeled quid pro quo, is reected in the rst two situations described in the guide-
lines. Here, compliance with unwanted sexual advances is made a condition for securing
a job or education benets or for favorable treatment in employment or academic set-
tings (such as receiving a promotion or high grades). Harassment is often evident in
reprisals that follow refusals to comply.
A second form of sexual harassment, often referred to as a hostile or oensive envi-
ronment, is described in the third situation in the EEOC guidelines. is kind of sexual
harassment is less clear but probably more common than the quid pro quo variety. Here,
one or more supervisors, coworkers, teachers, or students engage in persistent, inappro-
priate behaviors that make the workplace or academic environment hostile, abusive, and
generally unbearable. Unlike quid pro quo harassment, this second form does not neces-
sarily involve power or authority dierences. It may, however, involve attempts to defend
status and position, because men often view the entrance of women into formerly male
bastions of power and privilege as threatening (Dall’Ara & Maass, 1999).
Cases involving hostile or oensive environments have been the subject of consider-
able debate over what constitutes such an environment. Essentially, a hostile environ-
ment is seen as one in which a reasonable person in the same or similar circumstances
would nd the conduct of the harasser(s) to be intimidating, hostile, or abusive.
e reasonable-person interpretation is illustrated by a decision in which the U.S.
Supreme Court ruled unanimously that a Tennessee woman was subjected to sexual
harassment in the form of a hostile environment that would seriously aect a rea-
sonable persons psychological well-being” (Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, writing for
the Court in Harris v. Forklift Systems, 92 U.S. 1168 [1993]). In this case the victims
male boss (the company president) (1) urged her to retrieve coins from his front pants
pocket, (2) ridiculed the size of her buttocks, (3) described her as a dumb-ass woman
in the presence of others, and (4) insinuated that she had won a large sales contract by
providing sexual favors. e defendant’s attorney unsuccessfully tried to pass o these
behaviors as merely joking without any hostile intent. is case is noteworthy because
it involved neither sexual blackmail nor unwanted touching. Nevertheless, the Supreme
Court ruled that a reasonable person would nd the oensive sexual speech intimidat-
ing and abusive.
Varieties and Incidence of Sexual Harassment on the Job
Twenty years after Anita Hill testified against Clarence Thomas on his nomination to
the Supreme Court seared the issue of sexual harassment into the national conscious-
ness, allegations of sexual misconduct by one-time 2012 GOP presidential candidate
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Sexual Coercion535 535
Herman Cain has drawn fresh attention to this issue (Haq, 2011; Stout, 2011). Both
the Hill/Thomas case and the more recent Herman Cain situation illustrate that
sexual harassment related to the work environment can take many forms. It can start
with such things as remarks of a sexual nature; sexist comments; unwelcome atten-
tion; violations of personal space; repeated unwelcome requests for a date; inappro-
priate, derogatory put-downs; leering and/or whistling; offensive and crude language;
and displaying sexually oriented objects, materials, or pictures that create a hostile
or offensive environment. In the expanding electronic environment of contemporary
America, sexual harassment often involves e-mails, text messages, Facebook posts,
and tweets (Greenwald, 2011). Some of these behaviors occupy a gray area because
not all people would view them as genuine sexual harassment. However, they clearly
become sexual harassment if they persist after the target of such acts has asked the
offending person to stop.
At an intermediate level of severity, sexual harassment in the workplace can include
inappropriate, graphic comments about a persons body or sexual competence, sexual
propositions not directly linked to employment, verbal abuse of a sexual nature, and
unwanted physical contact of a nonsexual nature. In its most severe manifestations, sex-
ual harassment on the job can involve a boss or supervisor requiring sexual ser-
vices from an employee as a condition for keeping a job or getting a promotion,
unwanted physical contact or conduct of a sexual nature, and, less commonly,
sexual assault.
Prevalence of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
The annual number of sexual harassment complaints filed with the EEOC
reached a peak at 15,889 in 1997. Claims dropped off in the 2000s, falling to
11,717 in 2010 (Haq, 2011). The drop in the number of annual claims may
reflect improved efforts of American companies to provide effective workplace
training on sexual harassment, or it may be a product of the economic down-
turn—harassed employees may be keeping quiet out of fear of jeopardizing
their employment or career advancement (Haq, 2011; Stout, 2011). It is also
possible that an increasing incidence of confidential settlements has resulted
in fewer claims filed with the EEOC. For example, the National Restaurant
Association, which Cain headed in the 1990s, entered into confidential and
secret settlements with two women who had accused Cain of inappropriate and
unwanted sexual advances (Haq, 2011).
For whatever reason, we can be assured that many incidents of workplace
sexual harassment go unreported. Some have estimated that only 5–15% of
harassed people actually le complaints (Haq, 2011). An analysis of data derived
from national surveys indicates that 40–70% of American women and 10–20% of men
have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace (Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission, 2009; Rospenda et al., 2009).
Sexual harassment is not limited to low-paying jobs or indeed to any particular
segment of the employment force. It occurs in all professions and at every level. For
example, over a decade ago the army’s highest-ranking woman (a general) led a com-
plaint of sexual harassment that was substantiated by army investigators (Myers, 2000;
Ricks & Suro, 2000). e level of sexual harassment in the U.S. military is quite high
(Buchanan et al., 2008). Several studies have revealed high incidences of sexual harass-
ment in medical settings as well. In one survey of 133 physicians, 73% of the female
respondents and 22% of the men reported experiencing sexual harassment during their
residency training (Komaromy et al., 1993). Other studies have revealed that 69–85%
of nurses experience sexual harassment on the job (Valente & Bullough, 2004).
© Paul Conklin/Photo Edit
Law professor Anita Hill, who testied during
the conrmation hearings of Supreme Court
Justice Clarence Thomas, triggered a national
debate about sexual harassment in the
workplace.
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536 CHAPTER 17
Same-Sex Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
Sexual harassment involving members of the same sex has become more of an issue,
both in the workplace and in the U.S. courts. People who are victims of same-sex
sexual harassment have generally found it difficult to obtain satisfactory legal judg-
ments, regardless of their own sexual orientation. Until recently, this unfortunate
situation was due in large part to the absence of a federal law specifically prohibiting
same-sex sexual harassment and to many courts narrow interpretation of Title VII as
prohibiting sex discrimination only between men and women (Bible, 2006). The lack
of a legal sanction against same-sex sexual harassment was finally addressed in late
2007, when the U.S. Congress passed a bill making it illegal for employers to engage in
discrimination or harassment related to sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender
expression. Nevertheless, even with the passage of this landmark legislation, attorneys
representing victims of same-sex harassment frequently find themselves needing to
prove that the accused acted out of sexual interest. Proving this can be extremely dif-
ficult, because most defendants in these cases claim to be heterosexual. Furthermore,
gay or lesbian plaintiffs may fear being outed” or exposed, and plaintiffs who are not
gay or lesbian may fear being thought of as such (Gover, 1996). Nevertheless, same-sex
sexual harassment claims are increasing (Stout, 2011).
Effects of Workplace Sexual Harassment on the Victim
On-the-job sexual harassment can seriously erode a victims financial status, job per-
formance, career opportunities, psychological and physical health, and personal rela-
tionships (Berdahl & Aquino, 2009; Gradus et al., 2008). The financial ramifications
of refusing to endure sexual harassment may be severe, especially for people in lower-
level positions. Many victims, particularly if they are supporting families, cannot afford
to be unemployed. Many find it exceedingly difficult to look for other jobs while main-
taining their present job. If they are fired for resisting harassment, they may be unable
to obtain unemployment compensation, and even if they do obtain compensation, it
will probably provide only a fraction of their former income.
Various surveys report that the great majority of harassed workers (between 75%
and 90%) report adverse psychological eects, including PTSD symptoms, eating
disorders, crying spells, loss of self-esteem, and feelings of anger, humiliation, shame,
embarrassment, nervousness, irritability, alienation, vulnerability, helplessness, and lack
of motivation (Harned & Fitzgerald, 2002; Jorgenson & Wahl, 2000; Larsen & Fitzger-
ald, 2011).
Dealing With Sexual Harassment on the Job
If you face sexual harassment at work, you have a number of options. The suggestions
in the following list provide guidelines for dealing with this abuse.
1. If the harassment includes actual or attempted rape or assault, you can file
criminal charges against the perpetrator.
2. If the harassment has stopped short of attempted rape or assault, consider
confronting the person who is harassing you. State in clear terms that what he or
she is doing is clearly sexual harassment, that you will not tolerate it, and that if
it continues, you will le charges through appropriate channels. You may prefer
to document what has occurred and your response to it in a letter directed to
the harasser (keep a copy). In such a letter, you should include specic details of
previous incidents of harassment, your unequivocal rejection of such inappro-
priate overtures, and your intent to take more serious action if they do not stop
immediately.
SEXUALHEALTH
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Sexual Coercion537 537
3. If the oender does not stop the harassment after direct verbal or written con-
frontation, or both, it may be helpful to discuss your situation with your supervi-
sor or the supervisor of the oender, or both.
4. If neither the harasser nor the supervisor responds appropriately to your concern,
you may want to gather support from your coworkers. You may discover that you
are not the only victim in your company. Discussing the oense with sympathetic
women and men in your workplace may produce sucient pressure to terminate
the harassment. Be very sure of your facts, though, because such actions could
result in a slander lawsuit.
5. If your attempts to deal with this problem within your company are unsuccess-
ful or if you are red, demoted, or refused promotion because of your eorts to
end harassment, you can le an ocial complaint with your city or state Human
Rights Commission or with the Fair Employment Practices Agency (the names
may vary locally). You can also ask the local oce of the federally funded EEOC
to investigate the situation.
6. Finally, you may wish to pursue legal action to resolve your problem with sex-
ual harassment. Lawsuits can be filed in federal courts under the Civil Rights
Act. They can also be filed under city or state laws prohibiting employment
discrimination. Moreover, a single lawsuit can be filed in a number of juris-
dictions. A person who has been a victim of such harassment is most likely
to receive a favorable court judgment if she or he has first tried to resolve the
problem within the company before going to court. A number of legal deci-
sions, including one made by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2004, have revealed
that an employer may successfully defend against liability if a plaintiff does
not seek relief from harassment by pursuing the employer’s established sexual
harassment grievance procedure (Mink, 2005).
When an employee les a sexual harassment claim with the EEOC, the employer or
supervisor who is named in the claim may retaliate against the employee in a number
of ways, such as by writing poor performance evaluations or transferring the employee
to another position with less status, pay, or benets. Such retaliatory actions are clear
violations of Title VII, and retaliation charges are the fastest-growing body of claims
processed by the EEOC, resulting in the recovery of $124 million in 2007 alone (Silver-
glate & Paskievitch, 2008).
U.S. businesses are becoming increasingly sensitive to the issue of sexual harass-
ment in the workplace, in part because of the damage to morale and productivity caused
by such behaviors but also because of court decisions that have awarded large sums of
money to victims (Elkins et al., 2008; Patrick, 2011). Because Title VII imposes liability
on companies for sexual harassment perpetrated by their employees, many corporations
have implemented programs designed to educate employees about sexual harassment
(Stout, 2011).
Nevertheless, despite these programs in business and in the military services, many
women still keep silent when they have been harassed (Bruns & Bruns, 2005). ey do
so for many reasons, including a desire to protect their career (Becker, 2000) and the
fear that formal reporting will not be helpful, may lead to retaliation, and could lead
to their being negatively evaluated by others (Marin & Guadagno, 1999; Silverglate &
Paskievitch, 2008).
Cyberstalking
Rapid technological advances have given rise to an intrusive form of harassment
that occurs in cyberspace rather than a work environment. Cyberstalking refers to a
cyberstalking
Threatening behaviors or unwanted
advances that use Web technolo-
gies as weapons for stalking and
harassment.
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538 CHAPTER 17
process in which a person is harassed on the Internet. Almost 1 million Americans are
victimized by cyberstalking each year, a majority of whom are women (Ginty, 2011).
Cyberstalking encompasses threatening behaviors or unwanted advances that use Web
technologies as weapons for stalking and harassment.
Cyberstalking can take many forms. Some people are victimized by former date
partners who may post disparaging comments about them on social networking sites
such as Facebook or MySpace or angry tweets on Twitter. Some cyberstalkers use
blogs to stalk and denigrate their victims. For example, a California woman and founder
of Survivors in Action reported that her abuser would create negative blogs about her
and post messages on existing blog sites claiming that she was a sluttty whore (Ginty,
2011). An Oklahoma woman was victimized by a cyberstalker who posted threatening
videos about her on YouTube ( Ginty, 2011).
Cyberstalking is fueled by two major factors: the very rapid evolution of various
technologies that create instantaneous large audiences and the nonchalance with which
people use this technology to divulge personal details about their lives. In our discussion
of Internet relationships in Chapter 7, we described how the anonymity of the Internet
often allows people to express themselves with abandon. People communicating online
often lose track of normal boundaries that are present in face-to-face relationships and
thus may be more inclined to reveal intimate details that later can be used against them
in episodes of cyberstalking. When a date goes wrong or after a nasty breakup, the
jilted/rejected person can use these personal details to stalk and harass his or her victim
in cyberspace.
Individuals can take several steps to reduce the possibility of being victimized by
cyberstalking. ese methods, outlined in an excellent article by Molly Ginty (2011),
include creating passwords that are dicult to crack, being selective when admitting
others to a persons location on a social networking site, not providing personal informa-
tion on the Internet, and immediately alerting both police and the providers of Internet
services and sites where stalking threats occur.
Sexual Harassment in Academic Settings
Sexual harassment also occurs in educational settings. College students often find
themselves in the unpleasant situation of experiencing unwanted sexual advances from
their professors. Both sexes are vulnerable to this form of harassment. However, it is
most commonly male professors or instructors who harass female students (Bingham
& Battey, 2005; Kelley & Parsons, 2000).
Academic sexual harassment diers somewhat from harassment that occurs in the
workplace. For one thing, a student who encounters unwanted sexual advances often
has the option of selecting a dierent instructor or adviser. In contrast, workers in an
employment setting tend to have fewer alternatives for avoiding or escaping the harass-
ment while still keeping their jobs. However, students can experience coercive pres-
sures associated with the need to obtain a good grade, a letter of recommendation, or
a desirable work or research opportunity. Furthermore, sexual harassment of students
can result in poor school performance, altered or derailed academic careers, and a vari-
ety of psychological and physical symptoms comparable to those experienced by people
harassed on the job (Bingham & Battey, 2005; Bruns & Bruns, 2005).
Students also tend to be more naive than workers about the implications of becom-
ing sexually involved with someone who may be important to their successful pursuit of
an education or a career. ere is a real potential for inappropriate exploitation of youth-
ful naiveté and awe regarding prestige and power. Furthermore, evidence has suggested
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Sexual Coercion539 539
that a student victim might wonder whether her academic success has been due to her
ability or her professors sexual interest in her (Sattereld & Muehlenhard, 1990, p. 1).
Many American higher-education institutions have established programs designed
to educate faculty and administrators about sexual harassment (Franke, 2008). An
increasing number of colleges and universities have also established policies prohib-
iting faculty from dating their students (Bruns & Bruns, 2005). e growing debate
over professor–student liaisons, together with decisions to ban such relationships, is
fueled largely by the belief that many relationships between faculty and students may
seem consensual on the surface but actually are not. Rather, the power of professors or
advisers or both to determine students futures through grades and recommendations
often creates pressure for students to comply to protect their class standing or future
prospects.
Sexual harassment also occurs in high schools and even middle schools (Ormerod
et al., 2008). A recent survey of almost 2,000 teens found that 56% of girls and 40%
of boys reported being sexually harassed either in person or electronically (Anderson,
2012). In 1992 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that school districts are liable for hos-
tile sexual environments created by school employees and can be sued for damages.
However, the Supreme Court has yet to extend this liability to sexual harassment per-
petrated by peers. Nevertheless, many district courts have allowed students to litigate
cases of peer harassment under Title IX, a 1972 civil rights law that prohibits federally
funded schools from denying students opportunities based on their sex (Lichty et al.,
2008; Scher, 1997). Furthermore, the U.S. Department of Education has published a
manual of peer sexual harassment guidelines in which it is clearly stated that schools
that do not take measures to remedy this form of harassment could lose federal funds
(Scher, 1997).
Prevalence of Sexual Harassment in Academic Settings
Just how common is sexual harassment in educational settings? A survey of Califor-
nia high schools found that approximately 50% of the female respondents reported
experiencing sexual harassment (Roscoe et al., 1994). Another survey of over 1,000
Canadian adolescent females in grades 7 through 12 found that more than 23% had
experienced at least one event of sexual harassment in the previous 6 months (Bagley
et al., 1997). A review of research suggests that the incidence of sexual harassment
in American high schools, especially harassment by peers, is quite high—ranging in
various studies from 37% to 87% (Lichty et al., 2008; Terrance et al., 2004). Sexual
harassment in high schools and colleges is receiving considerable attention from school
officials fueled in part by two Supreme Court decisions that found educational institu-
tions liable for negligence in dealing with sexual harassment complaints (Terrance et
al., 2004; Ramson, 2006).
In surveys of college and university populations, 20–40% of undergraduate women
and 30–50% of graduate women report having been the target in one or more incidents
of sexual harassment in their academic settings (Birdeau et al., 2005; Bruns & Bruns,
2005; Ramson, 2006). Because most studies of college populations have included only
female students, we have less information about harassment of male students. However,
research has revealed that between 9% and 29% of male undergraduates report having
been sexually harassed (Kalof et al., 2001; Sundt, 1994). e number of male victims of
sexual harassment in academic settings may be even higher, as indicated by an Internet
survey of over 2,000 college students ages 18 to 24, in which almost two thirds of both
male and female respondents reported being sexually harassed on campus (American
Association of University Women, 2006).
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540 CHAPTER 17
Dealing With Sexual Harassment on Campus
What can you do if you experience sexual harassment on campus? Some students
avoid or escape the harassment by dropping a class, finding another faculty adviser,
or even leaving school. However, we advise someone who feels that she or he is being
harassed to report it in order to curtail these inappropriate actions and to reduce the
likelihood that other students will be victimized by the same person (it is common
for people who harass students to have several targets). You may wish to speak to the
offending individuals chairperson or dean. If you are not satisfied with that persons
response, contact the campus officer or department that handles matters of civil rights
or affirmative action. Although you may be concerned about grade discrimination or
loss of position, federal affirmative action guidelines forbid discrimination against peo-
ple who, in good conscience, file legitimate claims of sexual harassment. Furthermore,
a professor guilty of such action will usually be closely monitored and will be less likely
to continue to harass.
SEXUALHEALTH
Rape
e legal denition of rape varies from state to state, but
most laws dene rape as sexual intercourse that occurs
under actual or threatened forcible compulsion that over-
comes the earnest resistance of the victim.
Although evidence strongly suggests that rape is widespread,
it is dicult to obtain accurate statistics on the actual num-
ber of rapes and rape victims in the United States.
Many false beliefs about rape tend to hold the victim
responsible for the crime and excuse the attacker.
Rape is often partly a product of socialization processes that
occur in certain rape-prone societies. ese processes glorify
masculine violence, teach boys to be aggressive, and demean
the role of women in the economic and political aspects of
life.
Males in U.S. society often acquire callous attitudes toward
women that, when combined with a belief that might makes
right, provide a cultural foundation for rape and other acts
of sexual coercion.
Exposure to sexually violent media can contribute to more
accepting attitudes toward rape, decrease ones sensitivity to
the tragedy of rape, and perhaps even increase mens inclina-
tions to be sexually aggressive toward women.
No single personality or behavioral pattern characterizes
rapists, and a wide range of individual dierences exists
among rapists.
Incarcerated rapists have a strong proclivity toward violence.
Men who embrace traditional gender roles are more likely to
commit rape than are men who do not support such roles.
Summary
Anger toward women is a prominent attitude among some
rapists. Some rapists have self-centered, or narcissistic, per-
sonalities that may render them insensitive to the feelings of
the people they victimize.
More than 50% of U.S. female rape victims reported that
their rst rape occurred before they were 18 years old.
Most rapes are acquaintance rapes, in which the perpetrator
is known to the victim.
Sexual coercion in dating situations is prevalent. Both sexes
experience sexual coercion, but women are more likely than
men to be physically forced into sexual activity they do not
want.
A variety of date rape” drugs are widely used by unscrupu-
lous individuals to facilitate sexual conquest or to incapaci-
tate date partners.
Rape has been a strategy of war throughout history. In
addition to being used as a means to humiliate and control
women, wartime rape is intended to destroy the bonds of
family and society.
Rape survivors often suer severe emotional and physical
diculties that can lead to a diagnosis of posttraumatic
stress disorder (PTSD).
Rape victims often nd that supportive counseling, either
individually or in groups, can help ease the trauma caused
by rape.
Although the vast majority of rape victims are women, research
indicates that as many as 3% of U.S. men have been raped.
Males who are sexually assaulted often experience long-term
adverse consequences similar to those reported by females
who are sexually victimized.
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Sexual Coercion541 541
Sexual Abuse of Children
Child sexual abuse is sexual contact between an adult and a
child. A distinction is generally made between nonrelative
child sexual abuse, called pedophilia or child molestation,
and incest, which involves sexual contact between an adult
and a child relative.
Most child sexual abusers are male relatives, friends, or
neighbors of their victims.
No classic prole of a pedophile exists, other than that most
pedophiles are heterosexual males and known to the victim.
Prosecuted oenders tend to be shy, lonely, conservative, and
often moralistic or religious. ey frequently have diculty
relating to other adults and tend to feel inadequate and
inferior.
Some pedophiles were sexually victimized themselves dur-
ing childhood.
It is dicult to estimate the frequency of incest and pedo-
philia in U.S. society. Estimates of the number of girls sexu-
ally victimized range from 20% to 33%, whereas comparable
estimates for boys range from 9% to 16%.
Research suggests that the number of boys who are sexually
molested in the United States may be substantially higher
than was previously reported.
Considerable controversy exists over whether a person can
repress memories of sexual abuse and then suddenly or
gradually recover them after exposure to certain triggering
stimuli.
Cyberspace pedophilia is widespread, and the responsibil-
ity for protecting children, in the absence of other eective
safeguards, resides primarily with parents.
Child sexual abuse can be a traumatic and emotionally
damaging experience, with long-term negative consequences
for the victim.
Survivors often experience a loss of childhood innocence,
a disruption of their normal sexual development, and a
profound sense of betrayal. Other damaging consequences
include low self-esteem and diculty establishing satisfying
sexual and emotional relationships as adults.
ere are a number of treatment programs for survivors of
child sexual abuse, ranging from individual therapy to group
and couple-oriented approaches.
It is important to talk to children about protecting themselves
from sexual abuse. Children need to know the dierence
between okay and not-okay touching, the fact that they have
rights, the fact that they can report abuse without fear of
blame, and strategies for escaping uncomfortable situations.
Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment in the workplace or in an academic set-
ting is any unwanted sexual attention from someone on the
job or in academia that creates discomfort or interferes with
the victims job or education, or does both.
Guidelines provided by the Equal Employment Opportu-
nity Commission essentially describe two kinds of sexual
harassment. In the quid pro quo variety, a worker or student
believes that failure to comply with sexual advances will be
detrimental to his or her professional or academic standing.
In the second form, the actions of supervisors, coworkers,
professors, or students make the workplace or academic set-
ting a hostile or oensive environment.
Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibits sexual
harassment. A company can be liable for such coercive
actions by its employees.
Estimates of the percentage of women sexually harassed on
the job range from 40% to 70%. Comparable estimates for
men range from 10% to 20%.
Claims of same-sex sexual harassment, which is now pro-
hibited by law, are increasing.
Victims of sexual harassment may experience a variety of
negative nancial, emotional, and physical eects.
Sexual harassment occurs on the Internet in the form of
cyberstalking in which Web technologies are used as weap-
ons for stalking and harassment.
Sexual harassment also occurs in educational settings. Most
commonly, perpetrators are male professors or instructors
who harass female students.
Surveys indicate that 20–40% of undergraduate women,
30–50% of graduate women, and 9–29% of male under-
graduates report having been sexually harassed.
Log in to CengageBrain.com to access the resources your
instructor requires.
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CourseMate, where you will nd an interactive eBook,
glossaries, ashcards, quizzes, videos, and more.
Also access links to chapter-related websites, including
Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network; Facts About
Sexual Harassement; Feminist Majority Foundation (Sexual
Harassment National Hotlines and Resources); A Parent’s
Guide to Internet Safety; American Academy of Pediatrics;
and GetNetWise.
Media Resources
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