Title

Methodologic concerns regarding estimates of physical violence in sexual coercion: Overstatement or understatement?

Author ORCID Identifier

https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3463-5704

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

8-22-2000

Publication Title

Archives of Sexual Behavior

Volume

29

Issue

4

First Page

323

Last Page

334

DOI

10.1023/A:1001962219365

Keywords

Force versus threats, Methodology, Sexual coercion, Sexual Experience Scale

Abstract

Self-report measures of sexual violence that ask women whether they have experienced threats of physical violence have attracted criticism in recent years; detractors claim that these measures lead researchers to overestimate the prevelence of sexual violence. Our study explored this issue by collecting data on the prevalence of threats versus force in the context of sexual aggression. Female undergraduates at two universities (n1 = 69; n2 = 111) were asked about their experiences with sexual coercion using a revised version of the Sexual Experiences Scale (Koss and Gidycz, 1985). Four of the original items were modified to distinguish between sexual contact that occurred as a result of a perpetrator using physical force and sexual contact that occurred because a perpetrator threatened physical violence. Analyses of the revised items revealed that the use of physical force was at least as likely as threats and that for some types of sexual acts, physical force was actually more likely than verbal threats. Furthermore, prevalence figures for three of the four types of sexual acts considered were not significantly altered by collapsing threat of force with use of force. Implications for future research on women's experiences of sexual coercion are discussed.

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