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Ten-Year Update of "Review and Critique of Empirical Studies of Rape Avoidance"

NCJ Number
Criminal Justice and Behavior Volume: 34 Issue: 3 Dated: March 2007 Pages: 411-429
Sarah E. Ullman
Date Published
March 2007
19 pages
The author's review of empirical studies of rape avoidance is updated in order to indicate what has been learned in the past 10 years and what is needed in order to continue to promote this type of rape prevention.
The author notes that resistance and rape avoidance are important because research shows that women who have experienced a completed rape have poorer mental health than women who have experienced attempted rape. A review of rape resistance strategies shows that fighting, fleeing, and screaming/yelling are all associated with decreased odds of completed rape. Although more research is required in order to determine what resistance works best in which situations, it appears that resistance should be as forceful as the offender's attack and should be sufficient to counter the type of strategy used by the attacker. Many situational factors are associated with whether women are likely to avoid completed rape and physical injuries. These factors include the social circumstances where the attack occurs, the preattack behavior of victims and offenders, and the victim-offender relationship. Other factors that influence rape resistance are whether a weapon is involved, where the attack occurs, the time of day, and whether help is immediately available. There is also some indication that the characteristics of the attacker may influence whether the woman can resist being raped. Other obstacles to effective rape resistance pertain to social-psychological factors and victimization history. One such barrier is gender role socialization that encourages women to put the needs of others, especially men, above their own needs. Other factors that impede women's resistance to rape are anxiety about being rejected by men and embarrassment at how others might judge their resistance strategy. This paper also discusses self-defense training and rape prevention programs. 93 references