Evidence for Multiple Classes of Sexually Violent College Men

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Abstract

Objective: Research on college sexual violence (SV) perpetration suggests there are multiple groups of male perpetrators. It is important to understand distinctions between perpetrator subgroups to determine appropriate prevention strategies, as multiple strategies may be necessary to address multiple types of perpetrators. However, previous studies on subgroups of college perpetrators have relied on theoretically based distinctions, and there is currently no consensus on how to classify perpetrators based on their sexually violent behaviors. The purpose of the current study was to take a data-driven approach to identifying subgroups of sexually violent college men to help clarify (a) the number and size of cohesive subgroups of sexually violent college men and (b) the types of behaviors that characterize each group. Method: 1,982 college men across 5 universities in the United States self-reported their past sexually violent behaviors, using the Sexual Experiences Survey—Short Form Perpetration (Koss et al., 2007). Results: Latent class analysis uncovered evidence for 3 groups: (a) a group unlikely to perpetrate any SV (88.6%); (b) a group likely to perpetrate SV using coercive tactics (verbal coercion or victim intoxication), but unlikely to use force (9.8%); and (c) a group likely to perpetrate the full range of SV (1.5%). Although the coercive tactics group included men unlikely to use force, it included the majority who attempted or completed rape based on legal definitions. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that there are multiple, distinct perpetrator subgroups and signal the need for multiple prevention approaches, including approaches that address campus social norms.

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