Victims of childhood abuse turn sexually coercive as adults

October 22nd, 2008 - 4:34 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Oct 22 (IANS) Men who have experienced sexual abuse in childhood are more likely to use sexually coercive behaviour against unwilling female partners when they are young adults.Researchers have found that men who were victims of both childhood physical and sexual abuse were four-and-a-half times more likely to engage in sexually coercive behaviour than men who were not abused, said Erin Casey, a University of Washington (UW) Tacoma assistant professor of social work.

She emphasised that this study focused on sexually coercive behaviour, defined in this study as insisting on or making someone have sex when they didn’t want to.

“Although there can be physical force involved in sexual coercion, it more often involves such tactics as pressure, persuasion, insistence, manipulation and lying to have sex with an unwilling female partner.”

Men who experienced some form of childhood abuse accounted for less than 30 percent of the nearly 5,650 males surveyed, but they accounted for 45 percent of the group reporting sexually coercive behaviour, added Casey, co-author of the new study.

Men who experienced only physical abuse were again half as likely to engage in sexual coercion as those who were not victimised.

The number of men who experienced only sexual abuse as children was too small, less than half a percent, to make any valid statistical conclusions.

The study also found that 55 percent of the men who reported coercive behaviour did not experience any childhood sexual or physical abuse, according to an UW release.

UW researchers used data collected in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, which is a representative survey of more than 20,000 young people. These youth were interviewed three times over a six-year period, starting when their average age was 16.

For the sexual coercion study, the sample consisted of 5,649 young men surveyed when they were 22 and who reported they had had sex at least once in their lifetimes and were exclusively heterosexual. A total 5.6 percent reported perpetuating sexual coercion with a female intimate partner.

The UW researchers found two other factors - delinquent behaviour and the age they first had sex - that, coupled with childhood abuse, were risks for committing later sexual coercion.

Men who experienced childhood sexual abuse were more likely to report becoming sexually active at a young age and going on to sexually coercive behaviour.

The study found no link between alcohol problems or the coexistence of drinking and sex in early adolescence and subsequent sexually coercive behaviour.

The study appeared in the online version of the Journal of Interpersonal Violence.

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