Comparing Gang and Individual Rapes in a Community Sample of Urban Women

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Little research has compared victims of gang and individual rapes, with only a few studies of college and police samples. This study compared gang (e.g., multiple offender) and individual (e.g., single offender) rapes in a large, diverse sample of female victims from the community. Comparisons of trauma histories (e.g., child sexual abuse), assault characteristics (e.g., offender violence) and outcomes (sexual acts, physical injuries), and current functioning (e.g., posttraumatic stress disorder, lifetime suicide attempts) showed that gang rape victims were worse off overall compared with victims of single offenders. In terms of help seeking, there were few differences in informal support seeking, but gang rape victims perceived their social networks more negatively. Gang rape victims reported to police, medical, and mental health sources more often than single-offender victims and received more negative social reactions from those they told about their assaults. Suggestions for future research and intervention with gang rape victims are provided.

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