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Separation/Divorce Sexual Assault: The Current State of Social Scientific Knowledge

NCJ Number
Aggression and Violent Behavior Volume: 9 Issue: 6 Dated: September-October 2004 Pages: 675-691
Date Published
September 2004
17 pages

This article reviews the empirical and theoretical work on separation/divorce sexual assault.


Before looking at the problem of separation/divorce sexual assault, the article examines several studies that have attempted to define the problem. The review found that the study of separation/divorce sexual assault is in its beginning stages and that more attention needs to be paid to the issue of defining both sexual assault and separation/divorce. Based on the limited amount of research reviewed for this article, the authors have concluded that the risks of nonlethal violence and intimate femicide are highest when women seek freedom from their abusive spouses or other men they have been living with in an intimate relationship. The literature review revealed that the prevalence rates of separation/divorce sexual assault may be low for some studies because data on these assaults have come primarily from women who were spouses. The authors believe that the narrow definitions used in this research need to be broadened to include other groups of men and women, such as immigrants, those living in public housing, or persons with mental disabilities, and a broader definition of sexual assault to include a wider range of experiences. In addition, the review revealed a major need for small- and large-scale representative sample surveys. Suggestions are offered for future empirical and theoretical work. References and 1 figure

Date Published: September 1, 2004