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Sexual Assault Victims at High Risk of More Assaults

Sexual Assault Victims at High Risk of More Assaults

Sadly, new research discovers that female college students who are victims of sexual assault are at a much higher risk of becoming victims again.

Researchers from the University at Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions found that college women who experienced severe sexual victimization were three times more likely than their peers to experience severe sexual victimization the following year.

In the study, researchers followed nearly 1,000 college women, mostly between the ages 18 to 21, over a five-year period. Investigators studied their drinking habits and experiences of severe physical and sexual assault.

Severe physical victimization includes assaults with or without a weapon. Severe sexual victimization includes rape and attempted rape, including incapacitated rape, where a victim is too intoxicated from drugs or alcohol to provide consent.

“Initially, we were attempting to see if victimization increased drinking, and if drinking then increased future risk,” said principal investigator, Kathleen A. Parks, Ph.D.

“Instead, we found that the biggest predictor of future victimization is not drinking, but past victimization.”

The study provided some good news, however.

“We found that severe sexual victimization decreased across the years in college,” Parks said.

In light of the recent report from the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault, the study shows that campuses need to be aware of the increased risk of future victimization for women who have experienced sexual assault, the researchers say.

Colleges also must keep an eye out for long-term drinking problems with trauma victims: Women who were victims showed an increase in drinking in the year following their assaults, perhaps as a coping mechanism.

“Our findings show that women who have been victims may need to be followed for many months to a year to see if their drinking increases,” Parks said.

The current research is published online in the journal Psychology of Addictive Behaviors.

Source: University of Buffalo

Sexual Assault Victims at High Risk of More Assaults

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Sexual Assault Victims at High Risk of More Assaults. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 20, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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