Acknowledged versus unacknowledged sexual assault among college women.

Research paper by Colleen C Cleere, Steven Jay SJ Lynn

Indexed on: 20 Mar '13Published on: 20 Mar '13Published in: Journal of interpersonal violence


Research suggests that many sexually victimized women do not acknowledge their unwanted sexual experiences as assaults. The majority of the research on this topic has focused on rape acknowledgment; however, this pattern holds true for other forms of sexual assault as well. The present study examined differences among university women with acknowledged, unacknowledged, and no histories of sexual assault. Relevant groups were compared in terms of current psychological distress, the situational factors of the assault, and the labeling of the assault. Similar to studies examining only rape, acknowledged victims of sexual assault reported clearer refusal, the experience of a more forceful assault, and more intense resistance against the perpetrator. Unacknowledged victims were more likely to endorse a prior romantic relationship with their assailant and a more recent assault. The great majority of women who endorsed an unwanted sexual experience also reported they were intoxicated at the time.