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Sexual assault literature is based mostly upon female victims. Sexual assault of males is largely unreported due to the previous perceptions that males cannot be victims (Stermac, del Bove, & Addison, 2004). With that said, research is beginning to show that assaults on males are much more prevalent than previously thought. Men and women are more likely to be assaulted by an acquittance within the acquittance’s home (Stermac et al., 2004).

Males who are raped often report similar emotions as females, such as shock, humiliation, embarrassment, anger, irritability, loss of self-respect, and sexual dysfunction (Stermac et al., 2004). Sexual assault victims are also likely to suffer from depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, and use drugs or alcohol (Laureate Education (Producer), 2008). They are also more likely to contemplate suicide as compared to the general public.

There are a variety of social and cultural factors that contribute to sexual assault, such as gender inequality, pornography, legitimization of violence, and social norms theory (James & Gilliland, 2017). Furthermore, there are a variety of myths that continue to justify or contribute to the prevalence of rapes and sexual assaults. For example, “victims or survivors of rape provoked the rape or wanted to be raped, so no harm was done” or “if the perpetrator is female, the boy just got lucky” (James & Gilliland, 2017). These types of myths excuse or promote sexual assault by normalizing the incident, while also further victimizing victims.

Partner Violence

Intimate partner violence (IPV) includes violent battering, abuse, and assault between all types of couples. It is approximated that 1.5 million women and 830,000 men were victims of IPV (James & Gilliland, 2017). There are a variety of theories that explain the underpinnings of IPV. For example, IPV may be a way to control the women using violence; it’s a learned behavior that has more benefits than costs; battering is an outcome of a patriarchal structure that condones violence, etc. (James & Gilliland, 2017). Furthermore, victims may have too much invested in the relationship to leave or they may not have the resources to leave. Victims may be financially dependent or have children with the abuser, which complicates the situation.

Victims experiencing IPV may lack self-esteem, self-confidence, have a history of abuse or witnessing abuse, tend to socially isolate, poor communication skills, poor relationship skills, and may lack financial, educational, and personal resources to leave (James & Gilliland, 2017). Furthermore, outside situations, such as pregnancy, family dysfunction, alcohol and drug use, and threats to masculinity may also contribute to incidents of IPV (James & Gilliland, 2017). All of these factors tend to stress an already stressed relationship. Any added stressors are likely to result in a violent confrontation. Another component contributing to IPV is societal myths. For example, “battered women provoke the beating,” “the battering cannot be that bad or she would not stay,” and “only low-income and working-class families experience violence” (James & Gilliland, 2017). These myths downplay the seriousness of IPV and point blame at the victim, rather than the perpetrator.

Comparison

Similarities

There are many similarities between sexual assault and IPV. First, there are certain societal and cultural factors that contribute to both sexual assault and IPV, such as myths that condone the violence or blame the victim. Secondly, sexual assault and IPV can be used as a way to control and intimidate a victim. Furthermore, similar to sexual assault, IPV can also be experienced by male victims, though, it far less reported.

Differences

IPV is different than certain sexual assault situations, because IPV is committed within an intimate relationship. Alternatively, sexual assault can be committed by not only a partner, but also an acquittance or stranger. Victims in a violent relationship may have a harder time not being re-victimized due to lack of resources, as compared to sexual assault victims. James and Gilliland (2017) states that medical doctors have a much harder time identifying and responding to IPV as compared to sexual assault

Barriers

According to Cohn, Zinzow, Resnick, and Kilpatrick (2013), there are a variety of barriers or factors that may affect survivor’s decision to report their sexual assault and seek treatment support. For example, the perception of negative social reactions by others and perceived stigma from law enforcement may influence the survivor’s decision. Other factors include the victim’s race, fear of the offender, shame or embarrassment about the incident, where the assault took place, and not wanting anyone to know about the incident were associated with not reporting a sexual assault to police (Cohn et al, 2013).

References

Cohn, A. M., Zinzow, H. M., Resnick, H. S., & Kilpatrick, D. G. (2013). Correlates of reasons for not reporting rape to police: Results from a national telephone household probability sample of women with forcible or drug-or-alcohol facilitated/incapacitated rape. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 28(3), 455–473.

James, R. K., & Gilliland, B. E. (2017). Crisis intervention strategies (8th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

Laureate Education (Producer). (2008). Sexual assault and partner violence [Video file]. Baltimore, MD: Author.

Stermac, L., del Bove, G., & Addison, M. (2004). Stranger and acquaintance assault of adult males. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 18(8), 901-915