Victimization and Perpetration of Sexual Violence in College-Aged Men and Women

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Abstract

Objective

Sexual violence is a significant public health issue on college campuses. Much of the research to date has focused on sexual violence victimization with less data on perpetration of sexual violence. This analysis describes sexual violence victimization and perpetration experiences in a sample of college students.

Methods

We sought to recruit college students attending three universities in the United States. A cross-sectional survey design was used to contact students through e-mail or voluntary gatherings. Each participant completed a questionnaire focused on experiences of sexual violence.

Results

A total of 1,978 students consented to participate in the study with 1,829 completing the questions related to victimization experiences and 1,479 completing the questions related to perpetration experiences. Thirty-eight percent (n = 700) of the sample (men and women) reported sexual violence victimization. Victimization among women and men was 42.6% and 28.7%, respectively. Almost 6% (n = 100) of the sample reported sexual violence perpetration. Men reported a higher rate of perpetration, 14.5% (n = 60), compared to women, 3.8% (n = 40).

Conclusion

This study provides data on both victimization and perpetration experiences of college students. Both college men and women reported experiences of being victimized as well as perpetrating sexual violence. Understanding victimization and perpetration on college campuses will increase awareness, thus piercing the silence, of unwanted sexual experiences and help move college campuses toward a response.

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