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Examination of the Reliability of Sexual Assault Reports

NCJ Number
Journal of Interpersonal Violence Volume: 12 Issue: 3 Dated: June 1997 Pages: 361-374
K D Scott; C S Aneshensel
Date Published
14 pages
This article examines the extent to which individuals are consistent in their survey interview reports of sexual assaults over time and the impact of consistency on prevalence and risk factor estimates for sexual assaults.
Persons whose sexual assault reports were consistent over time (positive on two occasions or negative on two occasions) were compared to individuals whose reports were inconsistent over time (positive on one occasion and negative on the other). A longitudinal mental health survey of a large (N = 3,132) gender- and ethnically diverse, community-based sample interviewed twice over a 1-year interval revealed that consistency was a function of an individual's position in society. Also, prevalence estimates, which appeared stable over time, were based on positive reports by differing groups of respondents. Disclosure, regardless of consistency, was associated with high levels of education. This suggests that education exposes individuals to information about what constitutes a sexual assault and, therefore, allows those persons to define their experiences as legitimate sexual assaults. Tables, references