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Measuring the Sexual Victimization of Women: Evolution, Current Controversies, and Future Research

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2000
74 pages
This essay reviews how the major studies of rape and sexual victimization of women have defined and operationalized rape and other types of sexual victimization.
The authors elucidate what is distinctive about each of these approaches and convey the strengths and potential problems inherent in given measurement strategies. This analysis is intended to set the stage for discussing the definitional and operationalization issues that must be addressed and rigorously examined if the understanding of sexual victimization is to be advanced beyond its current level. In the section on the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), the authors give special attention to the strengths and weaknesses of the NCVS' attempt to measure sexual victimization through a two-step process that involves "screen questions" and an "incident report." The next section considers the evolution of surveys specifically designed to measure sexual victimization. The focus is on Koss' classic "Sexual Experiences Survey" instrument and the critical analyses it elicited. The essay then considers more recent studies that have attempted to use more sophisticated methods for measuring sexual victimization. The authors next review their own research as a vehicle for exploring central methodological issues that continue to confront the measurement of sexual victimization. The essay concludes with recommendations for future research that attempts to measure sexual victimization. 10 exhibits, 7 notes, and 75 references

Date Published: January 1, 2000