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Self-Reports of Sexual, Physical, and Nonphysical Abuse Perpetration: A Comparison of Three Measures

NCJ Number
Sarah L. Cook
Date Published
25 pages
Self-reports of sexual, physical and nonphysical abuse perpetration, obtained with three measurement instruments, were explored in this study.
The three instruments were the Sexual Experiences Scale (SES), which uses behaviorally specific definitions of sexual aggression; the Conflict Tactics Scale-Revised (CTS2) test, which not only measures conflict-related aggression but also assesses negotiation and conflict tactics; and the Severity of Violence Against Women Scale (SVAWS), which includes more sensitive measuring instruments of symbolic violence, serious threats of serious physical violence, and sexual violence within which each are defined with nine subscales. The proportion of men who reported sexual aggression but not physical or nonphysical aggression, differed according to measuring instrument being used. The three measuring instruments contained different wording and definitions of "sexual," "physical," and "nonphysical" abuse; inconsistent phrasing of questions with more or less socially acceptable wording describing the three behaviors (social acceptability); varied definitions of strategies used by perpetrators to obtain non-consensual sexual activity; varied definitions of "nonconsent," and some contained a lack of definition of "sexual intercourse," "sex," "anal sex," and "oral sex." The main effects for social desirability on willingness to self disclose, found by these violence-against-women instruments, were not revealed in this study. However, a strong effect for social desirability on self-reports of general aggression was shown. It was concluded that incarcerated men were at risk for further aggression when released from prison, even though they had not been previously identified as sexual or domestic violence offenders by the criminal justice system. This study concluded that improvements need to be made to measuring instruments used in violence-against-women research, and recommends that consistent multiple measures within studies be used to allow direct comparisons. Tables, references


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