“I Felt as If My Body Wasn’t Mine Anymore:” Ex-Partner Stalking Victims’ Overlapping Experiences of Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: The current study examines the overlapping victimizations of sexual assault, sexual harassment, and stalking. Method: An online data collection platform was used to recruit participants and data analysis examined relationship abuse and stalking victimization experiences and victim harms (e.g., resource losses, negative identity perceptions, sexual autonomy, and current mental health symptoms) for ex-partner stalking victims who were sexually assaulted during the abusive relationship (n = 392) compared to ex-partner stalking victims who were not sexually assaulted during the relationship (n = 169). Results: Results found that over half of the women sexually assaulted during the relationship reported sexual assault while being stalked compared to a small proportion of women not sexually assaulted during the relationship. Sexual harassment experiences were pervasive regardless of relationship sexual assault victimization. However, women sexually assaulted during the relationship experienced increased coercive control, sexual harassment, resource losses, safety concerns, sexual difficulties, and current mental health symptoms than stalking victims who were not sexually assaulted during the relationship. Multivariate results found that younger age, higher safety efficacy, and fewer sexual difficulties were significantly associated with higher sexual autonomy while younger age, increased safety concerns, lower safety efficacy, increased resource losses, and increased sexual difficulties were significantly associated with increased recent PTSD and depression/anxiety symptoms. Conclusion: The current study results suggest that it is important to examine a wide scope of victim harms and that helping victims with safety planning in intimate relationships as well as to protect resource losses may be crucial for their recovery journey.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Family Violence
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author acknowledges the University of Kentucky Department of Behavioral Science for funding this research as well as Jeb Messer for help with the data collection.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.

Keywords

  • Interpersonal victimization
  • Psychological distress
  • Safety efficacy
  • Sexual autonomy
  • Sexual objectification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Law

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