Adolescent victims of sexual assault.

Research paper by D D Muram, B R BR Hostetler, C E CE Jones, P M PM Speck

Indexed on: 01 Dec '95Published on: 01 Dec '95Published in: Journal of Adolescent Health


The purpose of this study was to evaluate a group of female adolescent victims (n = 176) of sexual assault and assess the similarities and differences between them and older female victims.All the adolescents in this study were physically mature. The demographic data and the findings of the medical evaluation are compared with those of women, 25-44 years of age, who were assaulted during the same time period (n = 197).The mean age of the adolescent patients was 15.2 (+/- 1.6), while the control group had a mean age of 31.9 (+/- 5.1). Racial distribution was similar in both groups. One hundred thirty-nine (79%) adolescents reported prior consensual sexual activity and 32 (18%) had been pregnant at least once. Thirty-one adolescents (19%) reported a previous sexual assault. Many adolescent victims (64%) knew their assailant. Weapons or physical force was used less frequently to subdue an adolescent victim, and firearms were used very infrequently in adolescent assault. Use of alcohol or drugs just prior to the assault was prevalent among adolescent victims (47%). Finally, adolescent victims were less likely to sustain physical injuries during the assault.The preexisting relationship between the victim and the assailant may explain other elements that distinguish an adolescent rape victim from her adult counterpart. Compared to adolescent victims, the assault on adult women is more often perpetrated by a stranger, the victim is more likely to be abducted, and weapons, especially firearms, are more likely to be used to carry out the victim's capture.