Perceived responsibility of sexual assault as a function of couples' sexual orientation and alcohol use

UNCW Author/Contributor (non-UNCW co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Roxanne G. Howard (Creator)
The University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW )
Web Site:
Lee Jackson

Abstract: Acquaintance rape is a major problem in today's society. Approximately one quarter of women have been or will be victims of rape or attempted rape during their lifetimes. Many people still believe that women cannot be raped by someone that they know, or that if they are raped while on a date then it is somehow the victim's fault. Rape myths, such as the belief that a woman who is raped was somehow asking for it, are erroneous beliefs held by the general public about rape and perpetuate negative attitudes held toward rape victims. These negative attitudes held towards rape victims, especially victims of acquaintance rape, make cases difficult to prosecute and make victims feel like they have to prove their case to not only a jury, but also to their own family and friends. There is a large body of empirical literature that exists surrounding rape myths and attitudes held towards the victims, especially when the use of alcohol by either the perpetrator or the victim is present and if the victim's consent to sex is called into question. The body of literature is scarce when it comes to rape myths and public attitudes regarding homosexual victims, particularly gay men. The present study was conducted to extend what is known about attitudes held by the public regarding heterosexual acquaintance rape to acquaintance rape among gay males. One hundred and twenty three introductory psychology students read vignettes and answered questionnaires that aimed to measure their attitudes about what happened in the vignette. Results indicated that participants thought that the victim who was drinking, regardless of sexual orientation, engaged in more ambiguous sexual communication, namely token resistance, and was more receptive to the sexual assault than the victim who remained sober. Participants also indicated that they thought that the homosexual victim in the vignette was more receptive to and more responsible for the sexual assault than the heterosexual victim, regardless of whether the victim had been drinking. Results from the present study showed that negative attitudes held against heterosexual victims also extended to homosexual victims of sexual assault.

Additional Information

A Thesis Submitted to the University of North Carolina at Wilmington in Partial Fulfillment Of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts
Language: English
Date: 2009
Blame, Rape--Psychological aspects, Rape--Public opinion, Rape victims--Attitudes
Rape -- Psychological aspects
Rape -- Public opinion
Rape victims -- Attitudes

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