Non-partner sexual violence against women in Spain: lifetime prevalence, perpetrators and consequences on mental health

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Abstract

Background

Research on sexual violence by non-partners based on representative samples is scarce. The objectives of the study were (i) to analyse the prevalence of different forms of non-partner sexual violence in Spain and their perpetrators, (ii) to analyse the consequences of non-partner sexual violence on mental health and (iii) to estimate the percentage of rapes that are reported to the police.

Methods

Data from the 2015 Spanish Survey on Violence against Women, a nationally representative sample of 10 171 women, were used. Three mutually exclusive categories of non-partner sexual violence were created to measure the effects of violence on health. Logistic regression models were fitted.

Results

The lifetime prevalence of non-partner sexual violence was 7.2%. All the categories of non-partner sexual violence were strongly associated with the different health outcomes. Rape increased the likelihood of reporting anxiety [odds ratio, OR: 3.77 (2.65-5.37)], sadness because of feelings of worthlessness [OR: 3.31 (2.32-4.73)] and the desire to cry without reason [OR: 3.46 (2.45-4.89)] more than 3-fold. The relationship of the victim with the perpetrator varied by the type of sexual victimization. Less than 6% of rapes were reported to the police in 2014.

Conclusions

All forms of non-partner sexual violence, from unwanted sexual touching to rape, can lead to a multitude of mental health consequences. A public health approach to addressing this violence is needed.

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