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Friday, March 6 • 3:45pm - 4:45pm
Victim Blaming: Minimization of Unwanted Sexual Experiences Among College Students

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Rape is often depicted by the media and within American culture as an event of dominant physical force by a male stranger over a female victim (Gavey, 2005), and is the primary social representation of sexual assault (Basile, 1999). However, rape does not always take on that form, nor is it the primary form of sexual assault. Given the dominant representation of rape, if a person experiences unwanted sexual experiences that do not fit the above conditions, he or she may not acknowledge it as a sexual assault (Cleere & Lynn, 2013), and others may place blame on the victim for the experience. Both of these consequences have negative implications for the psychological well-being of the victim. This study examined certain facets of the aftermath of unwanted sexual experiences. It explored the impact on victim blaming and victim distress of the type of relationship between the victim and perpetrator (i.e., friend, family member, partner, etc.), the potential differential impact of who is doing the blaming of the victim (e.g., friend, family member, etc.), and the assessment of potential differences among these processes for male versus female victims. This study also measured the impact of beliefs and attitudes about rape, and attachment to important others, as potential moderators of psychological well-being following unwanted sexual experiences. College students from a Northern California University completed the Adult Attachment Scale, Rape Attitudes and Beliefs Scale , Sexual Experience Scale, Depression Anxiety Stress Scale, and Positive and Negative Affect schedule. The implications of the type of unwanted sexual experience, victim blaming, and negative psychological consequences are discussed in the context of interventions designed to highlight the multifaceted forms and negative effects of sexual assault, and to improve the low rates of reporting by victims of unwanted sexual experiences. . Keyword(s): victim blaming; unwanted sexual experience; rape myths

Friday March 6, 2015 3:45pm - 4:45pm PST