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Women's Experiences of Male-Perpetrated Sexual Assault by Sexual Orientation

NCJ Number
Violence and Victims Volume: 22 Issue: 6 Dated: 2007 Pages: 684-701
Susan M. Long; Sarah E. Ullman; LaDonna M. Long; Gillian E. Mason; Laura L. Starzynski
Date Published
18 pages
Using a large urban convenience sample (n=1,022), this study examined differences in male-perpetrated adult sexual-assault experiences among women of various sexual orientations.
Analysis of the women who experienced completed rape showed differences by women's sexual orientation. There was a trend for more heterosexual women to experience completed rape compared with lesbian or bisexual women. This finding is inconsistent with previous research and could be an artifact of the way the questions about assault were asked. There were no differences by sexual orientation on the length of time it took women to disclose the assault or in their appraisals regarding whether disclosing the assault would make things better or worse for themselves. As predicted, however, there were differences in disclosure to formal sources by sexual orientation. Bisexual women were more likely to disclose to formal support sources than heterosexual or lesbian women. Almost all of the women told informal support sources about their assault; however, bisexual women were most likely to tell a romantic partner about the assault. Bisexual women had more symptoms of depression and posttraumatic stress disorder due to the assault than did lesbian or heterosexual women. There were no differences by sexual orientation in the amount of self-blame. The study shows the need for additional research on the postsexual assault experiences of lesbian and bisexual women. The study is a secondary analysis of data from the Women's Life Experiences Study, a study initially designed to explore women's sexual assault by men. The study measured demographics, adult sexual assault, assault disclosure and social support measures, social reactions, and psychological reactions. 3 tables and 52 references