«Sex Offender Laws Failed Policies, New Directions ■ Richard G. Wright, PhD NEW YORK Contents Contributors..................... ...»
The Relationship between Childhood and Adult Victimization A number of studies have found that sexual assault victimization as a child increases the probability of revictimization both as an adolescent and adult. For example, Gidycz, Coble, Latham, and Layman (1993), in their study of 927 female psychology students, found that victimization was correlated with child victimization. They reported that in 28.84% (n =
830) of the sample, an adult victimization was more likely in those who had experienced a childhood victimization. Additionally, an adult victimization was dependent on an adolescent victimization in 88.31% (n = 828) of the cases. They also found that women who were victimized in both childhood and adolescence had higher rates of victimization in adulthood, and reported a link between psychological functioning and victimization experiences.
Messman-Moore and Long (2000) examined the relationship between child sexual abuse (CSA) and revictimization in three forms: unwanted sexual contact, physical abuse, and psychological maltreatment. In their sample of 648 women, they found that “more than half of the CSAS (Child Sexual Abuse Survivors) reported some form of unwanted sexual contact in adulthood (52.3%), with 26.4 percent reporting unwanted sexual intercourse” (p. 496). Still others have also found a link between childhood sexual abuse and later sexual victimization (Arata & Lindman, 2002; Briere & Runtz, 1987;
Chu & Dill, 1990; Fromuth, 1986; Kessler & Bieschke, 1999;
Koss & Dinero, 1989; Merrill et al., 1999; Messman & Long, 1996; Russell, 1984; Wyatt, Guthrie, & Notgrass, 1992).
It appears that once victimized, the risk for revictimization or repeat victimizationi is greater. In a review of the existing literature on sexual revictimization, Classen, Palesh,
and Aggarwal (2005) note several key points:
■ Sexual assault during adolescence places a woman at greater risk during adulthood compared to the risk associated with CSA.
■ The more recent the victimization, the higher the risk for revictimization.
■ Cumulative trauma increases the likelihood of revictimization—CSA coupled with physical abuse increases revictimization risks.
■ Ethnic minorities and those from dysfunctional families face increased risks.
■ There are correlates between sexual revictimization and certain mental health problems, such as psychiatric disorders; addictions; and interpersonal, behavioral and cognitive functioning; in addition to increased feeling of shame, blame, powerlessness, and coping strategies.
Finkelhor, Ormrod, and Turner (2007) examined revictimization patterns in a national sample (1,467) of children aged 2–17. Of particular note is that the study’s analysis of “poly-victims” (a subset of the children with high levels of different types of victimizations) indicated that this group was especially susceptible to increased risk for sexual victimization, child maltreatment, and virtually all other forms of victimization. The authors note a number of implications from the study of revictimization. Most prominent is the necessity to study children across the full spectrum of childhood, most notably age ranges, in order to inform a more holistic approach to public policy concerning child and youth victimization (Ibid). Similarly there is a need to examine victimization across racial and ethnic lines in order to better understand its impact on diverse populations.
Race and Ethnicity Tjaden and Thoennes (2006) found that those most frequently victimized for rape/sexual assault are Native American women, which is consistent with other research. The study found that 17.6% of surveyed women and 3% of surveyed men were raped at some time in their lives. They concluded that 1 out of 6 American women have been the victim or attempted victim of a rape in their lifetime, as were 1 out of 33 men. As of the year the sample was generated (1995), 17.7 million American The Problem of Sexual Assault women and 2.8 million American men have been victims or attempted victims of a completed rape. Nine of every 10 rape victims were female. Although numbers show that about 80% of victims were white, minorities were somewhat more likely to be attacked (Ibid).
Siegel and Williams (2003), using data collected from 206 predominately urban, low-income, African American women, found that CSA prior to age 13 was not by itself a risk factor for adult victimization. Rather, those who were victimized later in adolescence in combination with CSA posed a much greater risk for adult victimization; however, other risk factors such as alcohol abuse and sexual behaviors (multiple sex partners) also influenced future victimization.
Kalof’s (2000) study of 383 undergraduate women found that when verbal threats or pressure was applied, African American women had the highest incidence of forced intercourse, and Asian women had the lowest in this category. Hispanic women had the highest incidence of attempted rape, whereas African American women had the lowest. African American and white women were almost three times as likely as Hispanic women to have had experiences that met the legal definition of rape. In addition ethnicity interacted with both alcohol use and early extrafamilial sexual abuse; thus based on the victims ethnicity, extrafamilial sexual abuse and alcohol abuse has a different effect on subsequent experiences of attempted rape.
Male Sexual Assault Victimization Recent research has allowed for closer scrutiny of adult male sexual assault patterns. Contrary to popular belief, rape of adult males does not only occur in prison, although its prevalence within penal institutions may be higher than elsewhere. Although most estimates put male sexual assault victimization at around 5% to 10%, there is reason to believe that this is not quite accurate (Forman, 1982; Kaufman, Jackson, Voorhees, & Christy, 1980). Stermac, Del Bove, and Addison (2004) suggested that the prevalence of sexual assault on males is higher than traditionally believed.
Using information from the Los Angeles Epidemiological Catchment Area Project (as cited in McConaghy & Zamir,
1995) Stermac, Del Bove, and Addison (2004) reported that 7.2% of the men were sexually assaulted after the age of 15,
26 Chapter 2with 39% of these men reporting that they had been forced to have intercourse. Another study found that 16% of male college students reported having at least one incident of forced sex (Struckman-Johnson, 1988). Crisis center and hospital emergency room data indicate that males make up between 1% and 10% of all reports received (Kaufman et al., 1980).
Another study of male survivors found that between 5% and 10% of all reported rapes in any given year involve male victims (Scarce, 1997).
Some studies reported that for men, young white males are the most frequent victims of sexual assaults. Stermac, Sheridan, Davidson and Dunn (1996) found that sexual assaults in large urban areas target young gay males and that coercive patterns of assault similar to those seen in acquaintance sexual assaults of females was evident. Frazier (1993) found that 58% of the young males in his study of victims in a hospital-based rape crisis program were white. In Groth and Burgess’s (1980) study of 22 community male rape victims, all were white. These results obviously raise methodological issues given the limited samples. Many of these studies used self-report data that were affected by cultural and social constraints that make males reluctant to disclose rape victimization. Two notable studies reported that between 36% and 71% of males who were sexually assaulted had experienced previous victimization (Mezey & King, 1989; Myers, 1989).
In comparing male and female sexual assault victims, Kaufman et al (1980) found males to be younger, more likely to have physical injuries, more likely to have been a victim of an assault in which the perpetrators were gang members, and more likely to be more socially and economically unstable than females. Frasier (1993) found similarities in race, age, prior victimization, and likelihood to have been physically harmed, but men were more hostile and depressed than female victims. Lacey and Roberts (1991) also found that men were more likely to be assaulted by more than one assailant, with weapons more typically involved, and they were more likely to be orally assaulted.
Generally men are reluctant to report their sexual assault to authorities, leading to misinformation and underreporting of its prevalence. In male-on-male rape cases, heterosexual males in particular do not want to be labeled as “homosexual.” These victims fear that reporting a sexual assault subjects them to ridicule and stigmatization. One study noted that The Problem of Sexual Assault only 5 of the 40 male rape victims in the study contacted the police after the rape (Walker, Archer, & Davies, 2005). Groth and Burgess (1980) suggested that males do not report sexual assault for three primary reasons: (1) males are supposed to be able to defend themselves, (2) their sexuality becomes suspect, and, (3) recalling and describing the event brings up uncomfortable emotions. Additionally, it is not uncommon for both law enforcement officials and the public at large to be skeptical about reports of male sexual assault unless these reports involve male children.
Male Prison Rape The incidence of male prison rape has typically been viewed as a problem for homosexual convicts or even more broadly couched under the ideology of “just desserts”—inmates are getting what they deserve. Jones and Pratt (2008) have suggested that even early researchers dismissed the issue of sexual activity between male prisoners as either being consensual or situational. All agree it is the source of much institutional violence that results in both physical and psychological trauma for the victims.
There are two prevailing views about male prison sexual victimization. One is that it is an act of sexual deprivation caused by isolation from the opposite sex. However, this view is not supported by prison officials, criminological and psychological practitioners, academic scholars, or the prisoners themselves. Instead they feel it is much more complex than that. The other view is more consistent with sexual assault as an expression of power and control rather than sexual gratification. The psychological pain of prison life, the inability to pursue personal gratification, and the limited access to appropriate means to exert power all contribute to prison rape (Jones & Pratt, 2008).
Jones and Pratt note that the wide variations (1–21%) across prevalence studies can be traced to methodological issues that encompass differences in definitions, methods of obtaining data, and the prisons selected to study; and “a lack of differentiation between incidence rates and prevalence rates of sexual victimization” (p. 284). Using a criterion established by their investigation, Jones and Pratt argue that an inclusive definition of sexual violence does not just rely on self-reports, but it uses anonymous data collection
28 Chapter 2procedures and makes an effort to include multiple facilities of different types. Relying on this criterion, their investigation revealed a prevalence rate of 20%, presenting corrections officials with significant health and safety problems (Jones & Pratt).
The Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 (P 108-79),.L.
mandated a comprehensive statistical review and analysis of the incidence of prison rape. In December 2007, the BJS published Sexual Victimization in State and Federal Prison Reported by Inmates, which revealed that 1,330 inmates had experienced one or more incidents of sexual victimization (U.S. Department of Justice, 2007). Overall, 3.2% (n = 24,700) of local jail inmates are estimated to have experienced sexual victimization. Most distressing is that 2.0% (n = 15,200) reported an incident involving staff, with1.6% (n = 12,100) of the 2.0% reported an incident involving another inmate, and 0.4%ii reported being victimized by both staff and inmates.
One important finding by the report was that sexual victimization was more strongly related to inmate characteristics (e.g., female, person of two or more races, age 18–24, inmate with higher education) than to facility characteristics (U.S.
Department of Justice, 2007).iii A major concern for men who are raped in prison is the high percentage of HIV transmission. Maruschak (2004) found that 1.9% of men incarcerated in state and federal prison are infected with HIV but suggested that the prevalence is higher. Much of the HIV transmission in prison is passed by rape and other forms of sexual victimization. In a study of HIV acquisition due to prison rape, Pinkerton, Galletly, and Seal (2007) noted that prison rape incidents often involve multiple perpetrators and in many cases cause serious injury to the victim, which increases the risk of HIV infection. The authors developed a model to assess the acquisition rate of HIV due to prison rape and found that “approximately 68.1% of the 1.4 million men incarcerated in U.S. prisons at the end of 2003 already have or will become infected with HIV as a consequence of prison rape” (p. 302).
In addition, the scant literature attending to adult male rape suggests that the consequences of sexual assault for men are just as distressing as for female survivors. According to one study, male victims reported feelings of shock, humiliation, embarrassment, and behavioral changes and raperelated phobias persisting for a number of years after the The Problem of Sexual Assault assault. Almost half of the male rape survivors in this investigation met criteria for a diagnosis of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Longer term emotional reactions included increased anger and irritability, conflicting sexual orientation, loss of self-respect, and sexual dysfunction similar to that experienced by female rape victims (Huckle, 1995).
Impact of Sexual Assault Victimization Sexual assault victimization has numerous costs and consequences for the victim, the offender, their families, and society at large. Economic and societal costs of sexual victimizations are exorbitant. Criminal justice costs of sexual violence include those incurred for law enforcement, court proceedings, personnel, public education, and incarceration of convicted offenders. The incidence of mental illness, debilitating physical injuries, sexually transmitted diseases, drug use, and increased risk for other types of crimes are some of the associated human costs.