rcasa

RCASA’s Sunday Article Review: Circumstances Surrounding Male Sexual Assault and Rape

In Advocacy, Outreach, Sexual Assault Awareness on January 24, 2010 at 9:00 am

This study done by David Light and Elizabeth Monk-Turner of Old Dominion University shows findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey.  Most of the studies available on male rape and sexual violence rely on small clinical samples. The authors hypothesized that the existing data available is incomplete and therefore skews societies view on male sexual assault and rape.  

Much of the research on male sexual assault and rape is based on small groups arising from clinical experience (Isley & Gehrenbeck-Shim, 1997, p. 160). These samples tend to come from genitor-urinary clinics, sexual assault and rape crisis centers, and other medical providers (Hillman, O’Mara, Taylor-Robinson, & Harris, 1990, 1991; Stermac, Del Bove & Addison, 2004; Stermac et al., 1996). The data from these studies consistently shows male sexual assault and rape to be very violent; causing physical injury, include penetration, and often include a weapon. The authors hyposthesize that this data offers an incomplete picture of male vicitimization since all participants in the studies were self selected because they sought medical assistance.

Method

The data used for this study were selected from the 1994-1996 Violence and Threats of Violence Against Women and Men in the United States Survey, NVAW.  Telephone surveys were obtained and completed from 8,000 women and 8,005 men, 18 years or older, residing in the U.S. The study utilized the male subsample of NVAW, including the 219 male respondents who disclosed their assault or rape. The respondents were asked about the presence or absence of circumstances surrounding the assault. These variables included; whether the respondents self-reported that physical injuries resulted from the attack, or did not; penetration resulted from the assualt, or not; a weapon was used in the assault, or not; alcohol was a reported factor in the assault, or not; Sought help after the attack, or not; reported to the police, or not.

80% of the respondents identified as White, 10% identified as African America, and 10% identified as other race backgrounds.

Findings

89% of respondents reported that they experienced no physical injury during the assault; 69% reported that penetration did not occur; 95% reported that a weapon was not involved; 16% reported that alcohol was involved; 29% sought help; and 12% reported to the police.

The researchers then took the 29% of men that sought help and compared their data to the study group as a whole. The results show that the men who sought help after the assault were the ones with physical injuries resulting from the assault, and where pentration had occured. The data did not show that a weapon was more likely used or alcohol more likely involved.

Discussion

Because only 29% of respondents sought help after the assault , the argument  is made that clinical sample data over-represents physical violence, penetration, weapon use, and alcohol involvement.

Although  the data is from a very small population of victims,  it does show that clinical study sample results are distorted and do not give an accurant represntation of male sexual assault and rape within the general population.

This data did not query respondents about age, sexual orientation, gender of attacker, and relationship of assailant. Having this information included would certainly lend a clearer understanding of male victimization.

Clearly, our understanding of male sexual assault and rape is far from comprehensive and in need of many more studies and male inclusive services.

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