The Trauma of Sexual Assault: Treatment, Prevention, and Practice

By Jenny Petrak; Barbara Hedge | Go to book overview

Chapter 3
GENDER, SEXUAL ORIENTATION,
AND SEXUAL ASSAULT

Adrian W. Coxell and Michael B. King


INTRODUCTION

This chapter compares and contrasts psychological and physical health in men and women who have experienced sexual assault. We briefly review the research on the effect of sexual assault on men and women with regard to various psychiatric disorders, health perception, limitations in physical function, and use of mental health and medical services. Next, we discuss social perceptions about sexual assault and how these may affect victims. Finally, we consider the relevance of gender and sexuality to treatment after sexual assault.

People can be sexually victimized in many different ways and at different times in their life. We use the term 'sexual assault' to describe these experiences except in cases where it is more correct to use another term (e.g., rape). We do not consider research solely concerned with sexual assault in children or adolescents in this chapter. Readers interested in research in this very important area should consider recent papers by Darves-Bornoz, Choquet, Ledoux, Gasquet, and Manfredi (1998) and Shrier, Pierce, Emans, and Durant (1998). In this chapter, we use the term 'victim' because we feel that Janoff-Bulman and Frieze (1983) are correct to argue that 'victim' and 'victimization' 'provide useful labels, for [they serve] to relieve victims of responsibility for their victimisation … responsibility for the onset of the victimisation (i.e., the problem) differs from recovery from it (i.e., the solution)' (quoted in Otis and Skinner, 1996).

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