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Experiences of Sexual Assault, Economic Insecurity, and Health in an Ethnically Diverse Sample of Women

NCJ Number
Psychology of Violence Volume: 10 Issue: 4 Dated: 2020 Pages: 355-366
Date Published
12 pages

This study examined the relationship between sexual victimization characteristics, economic insecurity, and physical and mental health status in a sample of sexual assault victims to better understand within-group experiences among African American, Latina, and White non-Hispanic women, and the study also identified targets for population-level intervention and prevention approaches.


The data used were from the 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey. Ordinary least squares regression analyses modeled associations among sexual victimization characteristics (i.e., sexual assault type, multiple sexual assault), economic insecurity (i.e., housing insecurity, food insecurity, health care access), and self-rating of overall physical and mental health within African American (N = 299), Latina (N = 234), and White non-Hispanic (N = 2,682) female victims of sexual assault. Results suggested unique within-group predictors of victims’ physical and mental health. Financial barriers to healthcare access were associated with poorer mental and physical health among African American women. Food and housing insecurity were associated with poorer mental and physical health among White women. Results for Latina women yielded few significant predictors, suggesting that other unmeasured factors may be more strongly related to health outcomes among Latina women. Based on these findings, the study concludes that affordable and accessible health care policy, police training, and clinical interventions to reduce economic insecurity are needed to mitigate poor physical and mental health outcomes among sexual assault survivors. Future research on sexual violence and health should assess racial discrimination and culturally relevant factors (e.g., immigration status, acculturation), in addition to economic insecurity, among women of color to inform culturally specific interventions. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2020