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Chapter 12

PSYC39H3 Chapter 12: PSYC39 CH 12

Course Code
David Nussbaum

of 16
Chapter 12: Sexual Assault
Definitions and Statistics
In recent years, the term sexual assault has been often been preferred to the term ‘rape’ in
both research and law
Sexual assault: More inclusive, encompassing a variety of behaviours that may or may not
include penetration
Rape: Penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with body part of object, or
oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim
New definition of rape indicates that both males and females can be raped
o Also indicates that the penetration of children/adults qualifies as rape
o Includes various forms of sexual penetration, including nonconsenting acts of sodomy
and sexual assaults with objects
Rape (old definition; which the UCR refers to as the legacy definition): Carnal knowledge of
a female forcibly and against her will
The revised definition further includes instances in which the victim is incapable of giving
consent because of temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity, including due to
the influence of drugs and alcohol (force is presumed; even if victim doesn’t resist)
Sexual assaults that do not qualify as rape listed as Part II offences, for which only arrest
information is gathered (ex. fondling a woman’s breast or grabbing a man’s genitals to lewd
behaviours such as exposing one’s sexual organs to passerby); includes statuary rape
Change in definition only affects the Summary Reporting System (SRS) because the National
Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) already captures broader sex offence information
Rape (NIBRS definition): The carnal knowledge of a person, without the consent of the
victim, including stances where the victim is incapable of giving consent because of his or
her age or because of temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity
o Sexual assault with an object denotes the use of an object or instrument to unlawfully
penetrate, however slightly, the genital or anal opening of the body of another person,
without the consent of the victim, including instances where the victim is incapable of
giving consent because of age/temporary/permanent mental or physical incapacity
Sodomy: Oral or anal sexual intercourse with another person, without the consent of victim,
including instances where the victim is incapable of giving consent because of age or because
of temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity
Incest: Nonforcible sexual intercourse between persons who are related to each other within
the degrees wherein marriage is prohibited by law
The National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) defines rape as the unlawful penetration
of a person against the will of the victim, and includes penetration from any foreign object
NCVS’ definition of sexual assault is an attack or attempted attack generally involving
unwanted sexual contact between the victim and the offender
o May/may not involve force and includes grabbing or fondling; include verbal threats
The trend is to move away from using the term “rape,” in favour of the broader “sexual
Statutory Rape: Nonforcible sexual intercourse with a person who is under the statuory age
of consent
o Pertains exclusively to consensual intercourse, as opposed to other types of sexual
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Chapter 12: Sexual Assault
o Critical factor is the age of the victim, an arbitrary legal cut-off point below which a
person is believed not to have the maturity to consent to intercourse/understand the
o IN UCR’s SRS statutory rapes are considered Part II crimes, not rapes
All states prohibit sex with a minor, but the age of consent varies by state (usually 16 or 18)
o An age span must exist between the two individuals, typically two to four years
In some states, it is illegal to perform consensual sexual intercourse if under the age of, for
example 17; for ex. If both individuals are at the age of 16, it is illegal to perform sexual acts
In other states, sex between consenting peers below the consenting age is not illegal, but
someone above the age of consent may not engage in sexual intercourse with someone below
the age of consent
Critics of statutory rape laws suggest that they are outmoded and unenforceable
Supporters of keeping statutory rape on the books to law enforcement data indicating that at
least half of the male offenders of female victims are 6 or more years older than their victims
(more than 75% of female offenders with male victims are at least 6 years older than victim)
o Believe that if states actively enforced them, predatory adults would be inclined not to
prey on adolescents, and teenage pregnancy would being to drop
Rape by Fraud: Having sexual relations with a consenting adult female under fraudulent
Marital Rape (or spousal rape): Non-consensual sex in which the perpetrator is the victim’s
About 10-14% of married women have experienced marital rape, but like all sexual assault it
is likely that much of it goes unreported
Sexual Assault in Date and Acquaintance Relationships
Strangers commit only one-fifth of the reported sexual violence in the US
Date Rape: A sexual assault that occurs within the context of a dating relationship
Acquaintance Rape: Sexual assaults in which the victim knows the assailant (perpetrator
can be a relative, neighbour, friend, or classmate)
o About one-third of these assaults are committed by an intimate partner
During the period 1995 to 2013, females ages 18 to 24 in general had the highest incidence of
rape and sexual assault compared to females of any other age group
In 2013, college females were raped or sexually assaulted at a victimization rate of 4.3 per
1000 compared to the victimization rate of 1.4 victimization for non-college females
These researchers report that the offender was known to the student victim in approx.. 80%
of the incidents, and the offenders were more likely to be friends or acquaintances (50%)
than partners in a dating relationship, including intimate partners (24%)
In a survey, over one-fourth of college women said they had experienced unwanted sexual
contact ranging from kissing and petting to oral, anal, or vaginal intercourse since enrolling
in college
o Found that 41$ of the offenders were boyfriends, followed by friends (29%) , and
acquaintances (21%)
Date and acquaintance rapists tend to have higher recidivism rates than stranger rapists
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Chapter 12: Sexual Assault
According to the survey data (NCVS), about 8/10 rape and other sexual victimization of
female students go unreported to the police (most common reason: survivor’s belief that the
assault was a personal matter or they feared reprisal; or self-blame)
Even when students report their victimization to campus officials, they are not reported
outside the campus community
o The actual rate of sexual assault is likely at least an estimated 44% higher than the
numbers that universities submit in compliance with the Clery Act
The Clery Act requires higher education institutions to submit yearly data on designated
campus crimes to the Department of Education
o The Act is named for Jeanne Clery (19 yo college students who was raped and
murdered in her college residential hall room in 1986)
One of the reason for the underreporting stems from the belief that if a school stands out as
having a high rate of sexual assault versus peer schools, it risks attracting fewer students and
suffering long-term reputational damage
Incidence and Prevalence of Rape
In the US, an estimated 79,770 rapes (legacy definition) were reported to law enforcement
agencies nationwide in 2013
o Represents a rate of approximately 25.2 per 100,000 female inhabitants
o Does not represent the new definition of rape, which includes males as victims
Research data indicate that 18% of women in the US have been raped at some point I their
In the US, children and college students, persons with disabilities, and incarcerate individuals
are the most vulnerable to be raped or otherwise sexually assaulted
Impact of Sexual Assault on Survivors
The Los Angeles Epidemiologic Catchment Area (ECA) project shows that 13% of the
interviewees have been victims of sexual assault at least once in their lifetimes
o Two-thirds of the sexually assaulted subjects reported two or more assaults
o Women (16.7%) more frequently report lifetime sexual assault than men (9.4%)
In a sobering finding, 13% of the victims were first assaulted between the ages of 6 and 10;
19% between 11 and 15; 34% between 16 and 20; 15% between 21 and 25
The ECA project found that both male and female victims of sexual assault are two to four
times more likely than non-victims to develop serious psychological problems
Psychological Effects
Survivors of rape and sexual assault often blame themselves as being responsible for the
assault, and negative reactions from others could strengthen that self-blame; contributes to
psychological damage done by victimization
Self-blame also plays a major role in the poor adjustment and psychological distress of many
sexual assault survivors, and may be a significant factor in exaggerating symptoms of PTSD
if it does occur
In addition to the interview with representatives of law enforcement, the victim is required to
undergo a medical examination to establish physical evidence of penetration, if it was rape,
and use of physical force
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