Psychology 2075 Chapter Notes - Chapter 16: Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Pedophilia, Flunitrazepam
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CHAPTER 16 – SEXUAL COERCION
- In the last two decades, there has been a movement towards seeing crimes involving
force in sexual relations as crimes of violence and victimization rather than as sex crimes.
- Prior to 1983, the Criminal Code had 4 sections that prohibited forced sexual activity,
identified as rape, attempted rape, indecent assault against a female, and indecent assault
against a male.
- At the time, the legal definition of rape was heterosexual intercourse by a man with a
woman who was not his wife: 1) limited to heterosexual intercourse, 2) women could not
be charged and men could not be victims, 3) husbands could not be charged with raping
their wives, and 4) the victims previous sexual activity could be considered as evidence
of her consent and as credibility of her testimony.
- Rape complaints that were not made immediately after the attack were invalidated.
- Criminal Code amended in 1983: three gender-neutral crimes of assault were created
(depended on the amount of force used to carry out the assault and the degree of injury
sustained by the victim – not on the nature of the forced sexual activity).
- Purpose was to 1) de-emphasize the sexual nature of the offence, 2) stress the violent
nature, 3) encourage victims to report these crimes, and 4) to improve the court procedure
to reduce trauma to victims and increase the rat of convictions.
- Three levels of sexual assault: sexual assault, sexual assault with a weapon causing
serious injury or endangering the life of the victim or causing bodily harm, and
aggravated sexual assault.
- Sexual Assault: any nonconsensual activity ranging from unwanted touching, to forced
oral, anal, or vaginal intercourse, to sexual violence in which the victim is wounded or
maimed or his or her life is endangered or when the victim is incapable of giving consent.
- The law is written in gender-neutral terms and no longer discriminates against married
- Silence, inaction, or ambiguous conduct is not considered consent.
- 39% of women report having been sexually assaulted by a man since the age of 16.
- Only 8% of sexual assault victims reported the crime to the police.
- Reasons women did not report their sexual assault to police: did not believe police
could do anything, wanted to keep the event private, feeling ashamed or embarrassed,
being afraid of not being believed, fearing the perpetrator, and not wanting the perpetrator
to be arrested.
- One study found that women with disabilities are 4 times as likely to experience sexual
- According to the NHSLS, 1% of men reported having been the victims of forced sex
with a woman; 22% of women reported having been the victims of forced sex with a
- More common for a man to have been forced to have sex by another man (1.9% of men)
than by a woman (1.3% of men).
- 1.8% of women but only 0.3 % of men reported that someone had touched them against
their will in the previous 12 months.
- 0.7% of women and 0.2 % of men reported that their partner had forced them to engage
in unwanted sexual activity by threatening them, holding them down, or hurting them in
Sexual Assault of Women by Acquaintances:
- Sexual assault by someone who is known to the victim, often called “date rape” or
sexual assault by an acquaintance, is much more frequent than sexual assault by a
- Many women do not report their sexual assault to the police.
- 48% of University women reported having experienced coerced sexual activity
involving pressure or force (Ontario study).
- 44% of middle school and high school girls reported having had a sexually coercive
experience with a boyfriend; 17% of boys reported that they had been sexually abusive
(New Brunswick study).
- Many women do not recognize that what happened to them was sexual assault because
it happened in a dating situation.
- Sexual coercion by a dating partner is associated with higher depression, lower self-
esteem, and more negative sexual self-perceptions.
- Many men still hold the traditional view that a woman who says no really means “yes”.
- Two factors seem to explain why sexually aggressive men misperceive women’s
communication: 1) men in general tend to misperceive women’s warmth and friendliness
as indicating sexual interest. 2) Sexually aggressive men tend to have a “suspicious
schema,” meaning that they generally believe that women do not communicate honestly
(particularly when rejecting an advance).
- The second finding has important implications for prevention and treatment programs
for sexual aggressors.
- Three major types of “date-rape drugs”:
1) Rohypnol (“roofie”) the drug name for flunitrazepam.
- Causes drowsiness or sleep.
- Also causes the woman not to remember the event the next day.
2) GHB the drug name for gamma hydroxyl butyrate.
- Produces similar effects to alcohol but can cause hallucinations in larger doses and
when mixed with alcohol can lead to a loss of consciousness.
3) Ketamine causes a combination of amnesia and hallucinations.
- Ecstasy and Foxy Methoxy are also sometimes used as a date-rape drug.
Spousal Sexual Assault of Women:
- Spousal Sexual Assault: the sexual assault of a person by his or her current or former
marital or common-law spouse.
- Violence Against Women Survey found that 8% of respondents had been sexually
assaulted by a current or former spouse.
- 3% of women reported having been sexually assaulted by their spouse in the previous
- A man might sexually assault his female partner for many motives, including anger,
power and domination, sadism, or a desire for sex regardless if she is willing.
- Some sexual assaults occur because the man believes his female partner “owes” him
The Impact of Sexual Assault on Women:
- Sexual assault is a time of crisis for a woman and the effects on many victims persist for
a year or more.
- High levels of distress generally reach a peak three weeks after the assault and continue
at a high level for the next month (then gradual improvement beginning 2 or 3 months
after the assault).
- Assaulted women continue to report more fear, anxiety, self-esteem problems, and
sexual problems (may persist for 18 months or longer).
- Some women experience self-blame: may not actually blame themselves for the event
(cognitive self-blame) but may experience emotional self-blame.
- Self-blame is a result of a tendency on the part of society to blame the victim and
excuse the perpetrator and is linked to worse long-term psychological outcomes for
- In about 5% of cases involving forced intercourse, pregnancy results.
- Women who have been sexually or physically assaulted at some time in the past visit
their physician twice as often per year as non-victimized women.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): long-term psychological distress suffered by
someone who has experienced a terrifying event.
- Schemas also affect how we interpret new events, so the consequences are far-reaching
and long lasting.
- The strongest predictors of which sexual assault survivors develop PTSD are negative
reactions and lack of support from others and avoidance coping (avoiding thinking about
and resolving the issue).
- Sexual assault affects many people in addition to the victim – women in general,
partners of victims, and the victim’s friends.
- Post-traumatic growth: positive life changes and psychological development
following exposure to trauma.
- Some sexual assault survivors experience positive life changes such as an increased
ability to take care of themselves, a greater sense of purpose in life, and greater concern
for others in similar situations.
Causes of Sexual Assault Against Women:
- Four Major Theoretical Views of Sexual Assault
1) Victim-Precipitated Sexual Assault
- Caused by a woman “asking for it”
- “Blame the victim”
2) Psychopathology of Sex Offenders
- Act committed by a psychologically disturbed man.
- Product of gender-role socialization in our culture, which reinforces and legitimizes
male aggression in general and sexual coercion specifically.
- Links between sex and power.
- Gender inequality is both the cause and the result of sexual assault.
4) Social Disorganization