Date of Award


Publication Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

P. Timmons-Fritz

Second Advisor

C. Senn

Third Advisor

L. Jaber


Consent, Intimate Partner Violence, Perceptions, Sexual Assault, Sexual Coercion




Previous research has indicated that victim-perpetrator relationship characteristics may be a significant factor in how experiences of sexual assault and coercion are perceived. However, very little research has investigated how victim-perpetrator characteristics may affect how survivors perceive their own experience of sexual assault and coercion. To explore this, the current study sought to identify how facets of women’s relationships with their perpetrators may influence their perceptions of sexual violence that has occurred within these relationships. A sample of 136 undergraduate students from the University of Windsor and 51 individuals recruited from social media completed measures assessing sexual assault and coercion, blame allocation, emotions relating to the event, relationship investment, and closeness to the perpetrator, as well as qualitative questions. Bivariate correlations, t-tests, Chi-square tests of independence, and logistic regressions were conducted to examine various aspects of the possible relationship between victim-perpetrator relationship characteristics and survivor perceptions. Participants who reported feeling closer to their perpetrator were significant more likely to report both more positive and more negative emotions related to assaultive/coercive experiences. Furthermore, those who had been in serious romantic relationships with their perpetrators reported blaming their perpetrator less and experiencing more positively-valanced emotions relating to the event than those who had been in casual romantic relationships. Those who reported feeling more satisfied also reported more positive emotions, whereas those who were most satisfied and committed reported less self-blame. However, perceptions were not significantly affected by length of relationship, type of relationship, or maintained contact with the perpetrator. Limitations, such as sample size, characteristics, and variable operationalization are discussed, as are possible future directions.

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