This study examined the frequency and consequences of sexual assault in intimate relationships, specific to ethnicity and immigration status, and compared the findings to a similar group of physically abused women who had not been sexually assaulted by their intimate partner.
A longitudinal cohort design was used. The samples of sexually assaulted and nonsexually assaulted women were obtained from a study of protection orders. Among the 100 women who reported sexual assault by an intimate partner, 62 percent reported a sexual assault within 90 days of applying for the protection order. Most of these women (79 percent) reported repeated episodes of sexual assault, including vaginal, oral, and anal penetration, with forced vaginal intercourse accounting for the highest percentage of sexual assaults. Six percent of sexually assaulted women contacted the police after the first sexual assault, and 8 percent applied for a protection order. Contacting the justice system was associated with up to a 70-percent reduction in the risk of another sexual assault. Not contacting police after the first sexual assault doubled a woman's risk of being re-assaulted, and not applying for a protection order tripled this risk. Of the women applying for a protection order, sexual assault was equally experienced by Blacks, Hispanics, Whites, U.S.-born, and immigrant women. Sexually assaulted women reported an increased risk of femicide, rape-related pregnancy, poor physical and mental health, posttraumatic stress disorder, increased alcohol use, and suicide. Many of the children of the women had behavioral disorders, and most had never received counseling. The findings indicate the need for accessible and appropriate justice, health, and social services for women who have been sexually assaulted by an intimate partner. Research recommendations are offered. 24 exhibits and an 84-item bibliography
Date Published: January 1, 2005