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Sexual Revictimization in College Women: Mediational Analyses Testing Hypothesized Mechanisms for Sexual Coercion and Sexual Assault.

Research paper by Alyssa L AL Norris, Kate B KB Carey, Robyn L RL Shepardson, Michael P MP Carey

Indexed on: 20 Dec '18Published on: 20 Dec '18Published in: Journal of interpersonal violence



Abstract

A precollege history of sexual victimization predicts revictimization during college, making it important to understand the mechanisms underlying the victimization-to-revictimization pathway. The study aimed to test whether heavy episodic drinking and personal and peer hookup norms mediate revictimization for two types of unwanted sexual contact: sexual coercion (attempted and/or completed sexual assault by the use of verbal coercion) and sexual assault (attempted and/or completed sexual assault by the use of force, threats, or incapacitation). At college entry, 483 first-year college women completed self-report measures of their precollege experiences, including history of sexual victimization and health behaviors (i.e., alcohol use, personal and peer hookup norms). At the end of the first and second semesters, they also completed measures assessing incident sexual victimization. Nearly one half of women (48%) reported an experience of attempted or completed sexual coercion or assault prior to entering college; 33% endorsed sexual coercion and 15% endorsed sexual assault in their first year of college. Structural equation models demonstrated that heavy episodic drinking and personal and peer hookup norms partially mediated revictimization for sexual assault, but not for sexual coercion. Sexual coercion was the most common tactic leading to unwanted sexual contact in this sample. Alcohol use and personal and peer hookup norms mediated revictimization by force, threats, or incapacitation. In contrast, the hypothesized mediators did not explain the revictimization pathway for verbally coerced assaults. Given the prevalence of sexual coercion, research needs to identify risk factors for verbal coercion to guide prevention efforts.