Chapter 18 Summary

  1. Rape means coitus or other penetrative sex acts accomplished by force or the threat of force. Sexual assault covers a wider range of coercive sex acts. Although both men and women of all ages may experience rape, young women in the 16-to-19 age range are at the highest risk. The great majority of perpetrators are male.
  2. The rape rate has decreased markedly over the past 30 years. The majority of rapes and sexual assaults are committed by people known to the victim (acquaintances, relatives, or intimate partners).
  3. According to one study, a college campus with 10,000 female students will experience 350 rapes or attempted rapes per year, although this figure includes many incidents that the victims do not consider to have been rape. Most campus rapes are perpetrated by acquaintances or current or former boyfriends. About 20% of campus rapes involve additional injuries.
  4. “Date rape drugs” such as Rohypnol may be used in the perpetration of rape, but alcohol (consumed by the perpetrator or the victim) is a factor more commonly associated with rape, including rapes on college campuses.
  5. Besides physical injuries, victims of sexual assaults may suffer a variety of ill effects, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These effects may be countered by counseling and survivors’ groups, which help victims regain a sense of control.
  6. The law has become increasingly protective of rape victims, but many victims of rape and sexual assault do not report the crimes, perhaps because of shame, a sense of responsibility for the assaults, or a fear of retribution. Men who are convicted of rape are typically sentenced to lengthy prison terms.
  7. Conflicting theories attempt to explain rape. Evolutionary psychologists have raised the possibility that it is a behavioral adaptation, meaning that it evolved because it increased the reproductive success of men who committed it. Individual men may be predisposed to rape on account of childhood abuse, personality disorders, or a lack of empathy and respect for others. Social forces may encourage a “culture of rape” or, conversely, they may discourage rape, as for example through the criminal justice system. Rape is often used as an instrument of war or genocide.
  8. Rape prevention programs teach teenagers rape awareness and avoidance, attempt to overcome gender stereotypes, and promote conflict management skills. The effectiveness of these programs is uncertain. It is possible that efforts to help parents foster empathy development in their young children would be a more effective long-term strategy.
  9. Unwelcome sexual attention in the workplace (sexual harassment) is a form of illegal sex discrimination. It can take the form of quid pro quo harassment, in which a demand for sex is accompanied by some inducement or threat, or hostile-environment harassment, in which the sexual attention makes life difficult for the victim. Harassment can also occur in other structured environments, such as schools and colleges.
  10. Sexual harassment causes psychological and practical problems for its victims and reduces workplace productivity. Victims can take steps to end sexual harassment by confronting their harasser or by reporting the harassment.
  11. Stalking is obsessive following, lying in wait, calling, sending mail or messages, and the like, all directed at a specific victim. In intimate partner stalking, the stalker is a current or former spouse or romantic partner, and the stalking is motivated by sexual jealousy and anger. In delusional stalking, the stalker is mentally disturbed and believes that the victim (often an acquaintance, teacher, therapist, or celebrity) is in love with him or could be made to fall in love with him. In grudge stalking, the stalker is not motivated by sexual interest. Whatever the type of stalking, it can progress to violence. Stalking is illegal, but legal remedies are of limited effectiveness.
  12. Violence between intimate partners causes both physical and psychological injuries. Battered women may come to see the violence as inevitable and therefore do little to escape it. Children often witness parental violence and may themselves be injured. The rate of intimate partner violence has dropped substantially over the past 30 years.
  13. Intimate partner violence typically follows a three-phase cycle of tension-building, violence, and reconciliation. As the cycle repeats, the violent phase tends to intensify and may eventually occur without interruption.
  14. Victims of intimate partner violence often stay with their partner. The reasons for this may include social isolation, economic dependence, low self-esteem, shame, and fear of retribution. Many services are now available to help victims of intimate partner abuse, whether or not they remain in their abusive relationship.