“Unwanted Sexual Contact, in Context”

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Insider Higher Ed reports on on long term study here. Below is an excerpt:

… The report, on”The Context of Unwanted Sexual Experiences”at UNH, is the latest product of a research project begun in 1988 and funded by the president’s office at New Hampshire. The university is relatively unusual (although not alone) in tracking, and publicly releasing, campus-specific data on unwanted sexual contact, defined as sexual situations including kissing or touching but excluding intercourse, that students knew at the time they did not want to engage in and communicated that in some way (or otherwise were incapacitated), as well as unwanted intercourse.

“There aren’t a lot of studies that have followed this for 20 years,”said Ellen Cohn, a professor of psychology and coordinator of justice studies who has been involved in the project since 1988.

Overall, 28 percent of New Hampshire women report at least one incident of unwanted contact, as do 11 percent of men. About 7 percent of women and 4 percent of men report unwanted intercourse. The researchers find that, by and large, the contexts for unwanted sexual contact are similar for women and for men. They do find some differences, however, in the contexts for unwanted sexual experiences based on type of experience (i.e. intercourse versus contact) and gender.

Researchers find, for instance, that men are more likely than women to experience unwanted sexual contact in a UNH residence, while women are more likely than men to experience it in a Greek house. The association with alcohol is higher for women than it is for men (though it is high for both). And men who experience unwanted sexual contact are proportionately more likely than women to be victimized by a date or romantic partner (such incidents comprise 19 percent of experiences reported by men, versus 10 percent among women). Friends or acquaintances were identified as the perpetrators 53 and 56 percent of the time for men and women, respectively.

“These differences suggest that unwanted sexual contact is more a product of the college social scene for women, and more a relational phenomenon for men,”the report states.

The report also finds that, for women, unwanted sexual contact is likely to happen as part of the college social scene, whereas unwanted intercourse is more likely to happen in the context of a date or relationship.

The report notes that the number of men who report unwanted intercourse is too small to make any comparisons across types of unwanted sexual experiences. Male victims were, however, more likely to have used drugs than female victims (8 versus 2 percent) and more likely to report a same-sex perpetrator (9 versus 2 percent). …

Oddly, unless I overlooked something, it appears that the article does not link to the actual study.   A version dated 2006 is available here, via this UNH site.

–Ann Bartow

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