The relationship between sexual aggression and perception of abuse in adult survivors of child sexual abuse

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Abdulrehman, Rehman Y.
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Aggression frequently is cited as both a short and long-term symptom of child sexual abuse. In child victims, aggression is often paired with guilt and anxiety (Hack, Osachuk, & De Luca, 1994). Adult survivors also have been noted to exhibit aggression (Bolton, Morris, & MacEachron, 1989) and generally are more likely to perpetrate against others (Finkelhor, 1984). This 2 x 2 factorial design study examined aggression in adult survivors of sexual abuse and the relationship of aggression to (a) the perception of abuse by the victim and (b) the gender of the perpetrator. A modified version of Finkelor's Sexual Victimization Survey (1979) was administered to 348 (320 of whose responses were included in the final analysis) male introductory psychology students to indicate the presence of a childhood sexual experience. Participants' responses on a measure of aggression (Fischees Forcible Date Rape Scale) were compared. Differences between victims of male perpetrators and victims of female perpetrators revealed atrend when analyzed by the GLM ANOVA, that victims of male perpetrators are more likely than victims of female perpetrators to be sexually aggressive. An additional chi-square analysis implied that victims of female offenders appeared less likely to perceive their abuse as abusive, than are victims of male perpetrators. A profile analysis on the perpetrators of the abused victims revealed that 82.6 percent of the offenders were female. The finding that these female perpetrators were more likely to coerce their victims instead of using physical force suggests that the abused participants did not incorrectly report the gender of their perpetrator. The results of this study challenge stereotypes held about the gender roles of victims and perpetrators of sexual abuse, and encourage further research in the area of male victims and female perpetrators.