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The victim-perpetrator relationship in the crime of rape: Victims' mental well-being

Dissertation
Author: Carolyn Sloane Sawtell
Abstract:
Nearly 75 percent of rapes reported to law enforcement in the U.S. in the recent past were committed by someone known to the victim (Bureau of Justice Statistics 2003). Rape scripts allocate extensive blame to women in known-perpetrator cases thus we have good reasons to understand the consequences for victims of these kinds of rapes (versus stranger-perpetrated rape). Little research focuses on the impact of the victim-perpetrator relationship on the victim's mental well-being. Using the National Survey of Violence Against Women--a nationally representative sample of 8,000 adult women in the United States, this study addresses this issue. The dissertation poses five questions. First, which women have higher odds of being raped and do these odds vary according to their relationship to their rapist? Second, what effects does rape have on a victim's emotional well-being and are these effects shaped by the victim's relationship to her rapist? Third, do dynamics associated with blame, satisfaction with the legal process, and experiences with help-seeking mediate the association between victim-perpetrator relationship and its consequences? Fourth, how do the particulars of the rape (including drug/alcohol use and rape violence affect a victim's mental well-being? Fifth, does prior adversity in the form of physical abuse moderate the relationship between rape the victim's mental well-being? The study tests seven hypotheses. Among the key findings are the following. (1) Some women have higher odds than others of being raped by particular kinds of perpetrators. (2) The experience of rape harms victims' mental well-being, regardless of their relationship to the perpetrator. (3) Help-seeking and blame do not mediate the harm associated with rape except for women raped by relatives, whereas satisfaction--rather dissatisfaction --with the legal process does so. (4) While the victim-perpetrator relationship rape fails to significantly predict depression and substance abuse after a rape occurs, women who were raped by partners and relatives who used drugs or alcohol during the rape appear to suffer somewhat lower rates of mental depression afterwards. (5) Finally, women who had formerly experienced physical abuse (either as a child or adult) reported poorer mental well-being after being raped. Other findings are as follows. The impact of rape on a victim is affected by the relationship of the victim and her rapist, even within the known-perpetrator category. Being raped by a partner appears to have unique effects. Partner-perpetrated rapes are particularly violent and they result in a higher likelihood of reporting by the victim to the authorities. Yet women who are raped by a partner are no more likely than other victims are to have charges filed in their cases. Third, rapes by a date or boyfriend fail to predict poorer mental well-being in the victim, compared to women raped by other types of known perpetrators. This study applied theory to portions of the analysis--Just World Hypothesis, Crisis Theory and Cumulative Adversity Theory--with a goal of ascertaining if the effects of rape vary for women raped by different types of perpetrators, some support was found for the latter two theories but none for the Just World Hypothesis. The study offers post-hoc interpretations for why date rape appears to harm a victim's mental well-being less than other types of known-perpetrator rapes, why the perpetrator's use of drugs/alcohol during commission of rapes by partners or relatives seem less destructive for victims, and why blame by society or by the victim in acquaintance rapes appears to protect the victim against depression. The study concludes with a caution about some limitations of the sample, measures, and analysis and with suggestions about the policy and research implications of the findings.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

List of Tables ............................................................................................viii Abstract .................................................................................................x

1. INTRODUCTION....................................................................................... 1

Prevalence and Incidence of Rape........................................................... 1 Changes in the Definition of Rape........................................................... 2 Victim-Perpetrator Relationship and the Contribution of the Study ......... 6

2. THE VICTIM-PERPETRATOR RELATIONSHIP: EFFECTS ON VICTIMS, THEORIES, AND HYPOTHESES........................................ 10

Fear, Myths, and Trauma Associated with Rape...................................... 10 Victim-Perpetrator Rape and the Differential Consequences of Rape....... 15 Theoretical Overview: Explaining Rape and its Consequence.................. 16 Hypotheses ............................................................................................ 21

3. RESEARCH METHODS............................................................................ 27

Data…..................................................................................................... 27 Screening Procedure for Determining Rape Victimization....................... 30 Measurement……................................................................................... 31 Strategy of Analysis................................................................................ 40

4. SOCIO-DEMOGRAPHIC CORRELATES AND THE EFFECTS OF RAPE BY VICTIMS’ RELATIONSHIP TO PERPETRATOR............... 42

Which Women Report Having Been Raped?........................................... 45 The Mental Health Consequences of Rape for Victims............................ 50 Discussion and Conclusions.................................................................... 52

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5. THE VICTIM-PERPETRATOR RELATIONSHIP AND THE MEDIATING AND MODERATING VARIABLES............................... 54

Does the Victim-Perpetrator Relationship Influence Help-Seeking Behavior ........................................................................................... 54 Does the Victim-Perpetrator Relationship Influence Feelings of Blame …........................................................................................... 59 Does the Victim-Perpetrator Relationship Influence Legal Involvement and Satisfaction with the Legal System......................... 59 Does the Victim-Perpetrator Relationship Influence the Nature of the Rape............................................................................................ 68 Discussion and Conclusions.................................................................... 72

6. THE VICTIM-PERPETRATOR RELATIONSHIP AND THE RAPE VICTIM’S MENTAL WELL-BEING.....................................................… 74

The Impact of Rape on a Victim’s Mental Well-being............................. 74 Testing the Three Theories: Can the Just World Hypothesis, Crisis Theory, and Cumulative Adversity Theory Explain the Impact of the Victim-Perpetrator Relationship on Mental Well-being............ 80 The Nature of Rape: Do Drug/Alcohol Use and Level of Rape Violence Mediate the Harm of Rape.................................................. 84 Discussion and Conclusions.................................................................... 87

7. DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS........................................................ 90

Major Contributions of this Study............................................................ 90 Support/Non-Support for the Hypotheses................................................ 93 Policy and Research Implications............................................................ 98 Strengths and Limitations........................................................................ 99 Suggestions for Future Research.............................................................. 101

REFERENCES ............................................................................................ 104

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ........................................................................... 114

viii

LIST OF TABLES

Table 3.1: Distribution of Women in the Full- and Sub-Sample........................ 29

Table 3.2: Relationship of Perpetrator to Victim............................................... 31

Table 3.3: Dependent Variable Measures and Frequencies............................... 32

Table 3.4: Nature of the Rape........................................................................... 36

Table 4.1: Frequency Distribution of Women’s Demographic Characteristics by Category..................................................................... 43

Table 4.2: Logistic Regression on Odds of Being Raped.................................. 44

Table 4.3: Multinomial Logistic Regression Likelihood of Experiencing Rape by Rape Type................................................................................. 47

Table 4.4: OLS Regression of Depression on Rape and Rape Type.................. 51

Table 5.1: Logistic Regression of Decision to Seek Mental Health Care on Victim-Perpetrator Relationship................................................. 56

Table 5.2: Logistic Regression of Decision to Discuss the Rape with “Someone” on Victim-Perpetrator Relationship....................................... 58

Table 5.3: Logistic Regression of Perceived Blame by Victim- Perpetrator Relationship.......................................................................... 60

Table 5.4: Logistic Regression of Likelihood of Reporting Rape to the Police on Victim-Perpetrator Relationship............................................... 62

Table 5.5: Logistic Regression of Likelihood of Charges Filed on Victim-Perpetrator Relationship.............................................................. 65

Table 5.6: Logistic Regression of Satisfaction with Legal Handling on Rape Type.......................................................................................... 67

Table 5.7: Logistic Regression of Drug/Alcohol Use on Victim- Perpetrator Relationship.......................................................................... 70

Table 5.8: Poisson Regression of Rape Violence on Victim- Perpetrator Relationship.......................................................................... 71

Table 6.1: OLS Regression of Depression on Victim-Perpetrator Relationship ............................................................................................ 75

ix

Table 6.2: OLS Regression of Depression on Victim-Perpetrator Relationship Relative to Stranger Rape.................................................... 76

Table 6.3: OLS Regression of Substance Abuse on Victim-Perpetrator Relationship ............................................................................................ 77

Table 6.4: OLS Regression of Depression on Victim-Perpetrator Relationship Controlling for Cumulative Adversity................................. 83

Table 6.4: OLS Regression of Depression on Victim-Perpetrator Relationship Controlling for Adversity.................................................... 85

x

ABSTRACT Nearly 75 percent of rapes reported to law enforcement in the U. S. in the recent past were committed by someone known to the victim (Bureau of Justice Statistics 2003). Rape scripts allocate extensive blame to women in known-perpetrator cases thus we have good reasons to understand the consequences for victims of these kinds of rapes (versus stranger-perpetrated rape). Little research focuses on the impact of the victim-perpetrator relationship on the victim’s mental well-being. Using the National Survey of Violence Against Women—a nationally representative sample of 8,000 adult women in the United States, this study addresses this issue. The dissertation poses five questions. First, which women have higher odds of being raped and do these odds vary according to their relationship to their rapist? Second, what effects does rape have on a victim’s emotional well-being and are these effects shaped by the victim’s relationship to her rapist? Third, do dynamics associated with blame, satisfaction with the legal process, and experiences with help-seeking mediate the association between victim-perpetrator relationship and its consequences? Fourth, how do the particulars of the rape (including drug/alcohol use and rape violence affect a victim’s mental well-being? Fifth, does prior adversity in the form of physical abuse moderate the relationship between rape the victim’s mental well-being? The study tests seven hypotheses. Among the key findings are the following. (1) Some women have higher odds than others of being raped by particular kinds of perpetrators. (2) The experience of rape harms victims’ mental well-being, regardless of their relationship to the perpetrator. (3) Help-seeking and blame do not mediate the harm associated with rape except for women raped by relatives, whereas satisfaction—rather dissatisfaction—with the legal process does so. (4) While the victim-perpetrator relationship rape fails to significantly predict depression and substance abuse after a rape occurs, women who were raped by partners and relatives who used drugs or alcohol during the rape appear to suffer somewhat lower rates of mental depression afterwards. (5) Finally, women who had formerly experienced physical abuse (either as a child or adult) reported poorer mental well-being after being raped. Other findings are as follows. The impact of rape on a victim is affected by the

xi

relationship of the victim and her rapist, even within the known-perpetrator category. Being raped by a partner appears to have unique effects. Partner-perpetrated rapes are particularly violent and they result in a higher likelihood of reporting by the victim to the authorities. Yet women who are raped by a partner are no more likely than other victims are to have charges filed in their cases. Third, rapes by a date or boyfriend fail to predict poorer mental well-being in the victim, compared to women raped by other types of known perpetrators. This study applied theory to portions of the analysis—Just World Hypothesis, Crisis Theory and Cumulative Adversity Theory—with a goal of ascertaining if the effects of rape vary for women raped by different types of perpetrators, some support was found for the latter two theories but none for the Just World Hypothesis. The study offers post-hoc interpretations for why date rape appears to harm a victim's mental well-being less than other types of known- perpetrator rapes, why the perpetrator’s use of drugs/alcohol during commission of rapes by partners or relatives seem less destructive for victims, and why blame by society or by the victim in acquaintance rapes appears to protect the victim against depression. The study concludes with a caution about some limitations of the sample, measures, and analysis and with suggestions about the policy and research implications of the findings.

1

CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION This chapter provides a framework through which we can begin to understand why women who are raped by someone they know may experience different, and perhaps more negative, forms of trauma and consequences than women who are raped by strangers. In order to provide this context, I have organized the chapter into three sections. I begin by discussing the prevalence and incidence of rape to illustrate the magnitude of the problem. 1 I then cover how the definition of rape is culturally sensitive, and thus understandings of the topic are constantly evolving. This notion of historical and cultural variation is important for my thesis because cultural understandings strongly influence how victims define their experience, how others (both individuals and institutions) treat them (Campbell 1998; Martin 2005; Matoesian 1993), and how they experience any resulting consequences and trauma (Koss 1993a, 1993b, 2000). I conclude the chapter by briefly describing what we know about the impact of the victim-perpetrator relationship on victims’ mental well-being and suggesting how this dissertation may add to this literature. P REVALENCE AND I NCIDENCE OF R APE

Rape is a profound social problem affecting millions of people (mostly girls and women) in the United States each year and these high incidence rates translate into stunningly high lifetime prevalence rates. The Department of Justice (2002) estimated that almost 250,000 women were raped in the year 2000. Consistently, studies show that 15 to 25 percent of U.S. women will be victimized in their lifetime (Fisher, Cullen, & Turner 2000; Kilpatrick, Saunders, Veronen, Best, & Von 1987; Kilpatrick & Seymour 1992; Koss 1993; Koss & Dinero 1989; Mahoney and Williams 1998; Randall and Haskell 1995; Sorenson, Stein, Siegel, Golding, & Burnam 1987; Tjaden and Thoennes 2000). One estimate suggests that women have a 26 percent lifetime probability of being the victim of a completed rape and when attempted rapes are included, the probability of being a victim rises to 46 percent (Russell 1984).

1 Rape is often also commonly referred to in the literature as sexual assault and sexual violence.

2

Sadly, even these disturbingly high estimated incidence rates may be low. Due to the sensitive nature of rape, the majority of rapes go unreported and therefore almost all statistics on rape have the potential for underreporting and underestimating (U.S. Department of Justice 2003). Statistics regarding rape also vary due to differences in how rape is defined and how the data are collected. The statistics we have on this phenomenon are most likely underestimates in part because rape is the least likely violent crime to be reported (Russell and Bolen 2000). In fact, it is estimated that in 2002, only 39% of rapes and sexual assaults were reported to law enforcement (Department of Justice 2003) and, furthermore, many victims fail to label their experience as rape—even when it legally qualifies as such (Bondurant 2001; Botta and Pingree 1997; Fisher, Daigle, Cullen, and Turner 2003; Frazier and Seales 1997; Gavey 1991; Kahn, Mathie, & Torgler 1994; Koss 1985; Koss, Dinero, Seibel, & Cox 1988; Littleton 2003; Marx & Soler-Baillo 2005; McMullin and White 2006). C HANGES IN THE D EFINITION OF R APE

In 1975, Susan Brownmiller wrote a book—Against Our Will—that provided the impetus for the examination of rape as a violent crime and as a social problem experienced by a large number of women (also see Rose 1977). It presented a profoundly different way of thinking about rape. Previously, rape was seen as a personal problem and victims were effectively silenced, with almost no public recognition that it existed. Following Brownmiller’s path breaking work, women in the second wave feminist movement took up the issue and organized for societal reforms (Bevacqua 2000; Schmitt and Martin 2008). Since then, many changes have occurred in how rape is defined, and how we view and treat victims, including the alteration of evidentiary requirements, the abolition of the spousal rape exemption, the establishment of rape shield laws, and modifications to the law’s resistance requirement (Konradi 2007; Martin 2005; Matoesian 1993). Legal definitions of rape have changed rather dramatically in the past 30 years. These changing definitions influence the treatment of rape victims by legal professionals—police officers, attorneys, and judges. Combined, these changing definitions and altering treatment of victims have affected how victims perceive themselves, their victimization experience (Campbell et al., 1997, 1998, 1999; Holmstrom and Burgess 1979; Martin and Powell 1994; Williams 1984), and their mental well-being (Koss 1993a, 1993b, 2000). Difficulties in defining rape include how other sexual interactions differ from rape, how

3

consent differs from non-consent, and how coercion differs from free-will. There is no universally agreed-upon definition of rape, even among academics. Rape can be viewed in terms of both legal and academic definitions which, as a rule, differ substantially. Legal definitions are more restrictive, thus setting a higher standard for an action to be considered as rape. Academic and popular definitions of rape are more inclusive, encompassing a wider range of behaviors and actions. In this section I address varying elements required by different definitions and note how these definitions have evolved over time. The Federal Bureau of Investigations Summary Reporting System defines rape as physically forced sexual intercourse of female victims by male perpetrators (FBI 2008). The FBI collects data from all participating law enforcement agencies in the U. S. in accord with the definitions of the Uniform Crime Report (UCR) which defines forcible rape as “the carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will” (Rantala 2000, p. 12). Problems with this FBI definition, according to Abbey, Parkhill and Koss (2005), are as follows: It only includes rapes reported to the police, it allows only women (or girls) to be raped, and it fails to reflect the variety of sexual assault actions that most of the 50 state statutes about rape allow. Many states now acknowledge and collect data on other forms of sexual abuse such as forced kissing, sexual touching, and sexual activity via coercion that are not reported to the FBI. The National Incident-based Reporting System (NIBRS), completed by agencies and reported to the FBI (much in the same way UCR data is collected), allows for broader definitions and includes more detailed information. It defines rape as “. . the carnal knowledge of a person, forcibly, and/or against that person’s will; or not forcibly or against that person’s will where that person is incapable of giving consent because of his/her temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity (or because of his/her youth)” (as cited in Rantala 2000, p. 12). This definition allows for men as well as women to be victims of rape but, like the FBI UCR definition, it is narrow in requiring the action to be “against one’s [the victim’s] will.” As subsequent material notes, debates about coercion question what “against one’s will” actually means. Since the 1980s, in the U. S., most state/legal definitions of rape “[exclude] oral or anal penetration as well as when a woman is unable to consent because she is unconscious, drugged, or incapacitated in some way” (Russell and Bolen 2000). However, since each state statute may differ from other states, collecting national data on rape has so far prompted the FBI and other federal agencies to use a narrow definition. It just so happens that the “narrow” FBI definition

4

reflects historical understandings of rape as forced sexual intercourse of women by men. Most U.S. state laws use one of the following terms in their statutes defining rape: sexual assault, sexual battery, criminal sexual penetration, sexual abuse, and/or sexual penetration without consent (Bryden and Lengnick 1997; Caringella 1985; Searles and Berger 1987; etc.). The term sexual battery is used in most state statutes. For example, Florida law defines sexual battery as “oral, anal, or vaginal penetration by, or union with, the sexual organ of another or the anal or vaginal penetration of another by any other object” (§794.011 (1), F.S.). Thus, Florida law allows for both men and women, boys and girls, to be raped—or sexually assaulted--and the form of the assault to include more than just male penile penetration of a woman’s vagina. The Florida law was first passed in 1983, based on the Michigan law that many other states copied as well (Caringella-MacDonald 1984). (Readers should be aware that the law is amended regularly, to clarify or add certain elements.) According to Spence (2003:61). There are three criminal elements in the crime of rape: (1) sex, (2) force, and (3) non-consent. However, these elements often have unclear definitions. For example, must vaginal penetration occur in order for the act to be considered sex? Does force entail only physical action or can it include non-physical coercion? “In rape law, force is typically defined as physical force: A defendant purposely compels another to submit to sexual conduct by force or threat of force if the defendant uses physical force against that person, or creates the belief that physical force will be used if the victim does not submit” (Spence 2003, p. 62). If a victim is coerced into unwanted sexual activity because she or he fears losing her job or home or fears harm even though harm was not explicitly threatened, is she or he a victim of rape? Lastly, debates are ongoing about what consent is. Spence argues that women may consent to engaging in forced sex. Such an example of how early definitions of rape were narrow can be seen in Model Penal Code §213.1 (1980), which argues that “a male who has sexual intercourse with a female not his wife is guilty of rape if : (a) he compels her to submit by force or threat of imminent death, serious bodily injury, extreme pain or kidnapping, to be inflicted on anyone; or (b) he has substantially impaired her power to appraise or control her conduct by administering or employing without her knowledge drugs, intoxicants, or other means for the purpose of preventing resistance; or (c) the female is unconscious; or (d) the female is less than 10 years old” (Spence, 2003 , p. 61). This definition was problematic because it provided an

5

exclusion for spousal rape, required not only physical force or the threat of physical force, but presence or threat of severe physical force. Also, while it allowed for the use of drugs or alcohol to gain compliance, it required the victim to have no knowledge of the impairment, thus leaving out cases where men ply women with alcohol. Furthermore, while it makes a concession for a victim who is unconscious, a difficulty arises in defining consciousness. Legal definitions of rape have improved over time in response to the feminist movement and in recognition that rape is not only about sex but also power (Bevacqua 2000; Russell 1982). These changes include alteration of evidentiary requirements, the abolishment of the spousal rape exemption, the establishment of the rape shield, and modifications to the resistance requirement (Martin 2005; Schmitt and Martin 2008). A remaining issue concerns coercion as an alternative to physical force as a method of obtaining a person’s compliance. Historically, there has been an unwillingness to recognize psychological force in the absence of physical threats. Whereas some state statutes formerly required evidence of physical force or the threat of physical force for an assault to be considered rape, others now recognize non-physical coercion as an illegal method when used to procure sex from another person. However, it should be noted that many statutes are not clear in differentiating coercion as the threat of physical harm (using terms such as by threat, force, or intimidation) versus coercion that is non-physical in nature. For example, the Nevada rape statute seems to allow for non-physical coercion in that it only requires that the penetration be against the will of the victim, and therefore does not explicitly require physical force. However, as Dorothy Roberts [1993] points out, creating distinctions between ‘seemingly nonviolent sexual coercion’ and ‘sex accompanied by physical violence’ tends to ‘obscure the common nature of both.’ Although ‘there may well be a difference’ between forcible and nonforcible nonconsensual intercourse, it is ‘not the difference between violent and non-violent rape,’ but rather ‘[I]t is the difference between lots of violence and not as much violence, or lots of force and not much force’ (Kinports 2001). Academic definitions of rape draw on legal definitions but, as a rule, they are broader (Campbell 2002). Some scholars include attempted and completed sexual assaults whereas others include only completed sexual assaults. The definition employed by Tjaden and Thoennes (2000, whose data I analyze in this dissertation) involves the use of threat or force to orally, anally, or vaginally penetrate the victim. While this includes threat (coercion) and penetration by

6

objects as well as a penis, it fails to address situations where the victim was incapacitated due to drugs or alcohol. Legal and scholarly definitions have changed over time. Even more importantly, cultural understandings of rape have improved (Bevacqua 2000). These actions have made the world a somewhat more receptive, and less judgmental, place for the victims of rape to report their experience (Campbell et al. 1997, 1998; Konradi 2007; Martin 2005). In sum, legal definitions of rape have changed over time, thus influencing academic and cultural orientations to rape, including how victims are perceived and perceive themselves. These reactions, in turn, probably affect rape victims’ mental well-being. V ICTIM -P ERPETRATOR R ELATIONSHIP AND THE C ONTRIBUTION OF THIS S TUDY

As we know from FBI-generated data for the U.S., nearly 75 percent of rapes reported to law enforcement in the past few years were committed by someone known to the victim (Bureau of Justice Statistics 2003). Other researchers also report that between 75 to 90 percent of perpetrators are known to their victims (Ben-David et al. 2005; Cowan 2000; Russell 1990). Nevertheless, popular culture depicts a “typical” rape as being perpetrated by “sick” or deranged men where the rape is a “sudden, violent attack by a stranger in a deserted, public place, after which the victim is expected to provide evidence of the attack and of her active resistance” (Williams 1984, p. 460). This stereotypic script frames rapists as strangers (Gagnon 1990) and the literature refers to such a description as the “classic” rape scenario. Women whose experiences do not conform to this stereotype or script are regularly seen as less than “real” or true victims. They are sometimes framed as women who have “brought it upon themselves” because their demeanor, behavior, or dress provoked the assailant (Benedict 1992, p. 18) or because they were once engaged in an intimate relationship with the assailant. Since rape scripts assign extensive blame to the victim and since most rapes do not conform to the “classic” scenario, 2 it seems worthwhile to analyze the effects of the circumstances of rape on the victims’ mental well-being afterwards. This study addresses this issue. Little research focuses on how the relationship between victim and perpetrator affects the victim. That is, we have very little research on the impact of rape on women who are and are not

2 For the purposes of this dissertation I define a known-perpetrator as someone known to the victim regardless of how close the relationship. This may be a classmate, a friend of a friend, a close friend, boyfriend, family member, or spouse. I define a stranger as someone unknown to the victim (following Bechhofer and Parrot 1991).

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“classic” victims. This dissertation addresses this gap. Specifically, it uses a sample of 8,000 women to ask if the impact of rape varies by the relationship between victim and perpetrator. That is, is a victim who is raped by her boyfriend affected differently from a victim who is raped by a stranger? If so, what is that difference? In examining the impact of rape on victims, I ask whether the relationship between victim and perpetrator is particularly influential. The perpetrator can be a spouse, friend, intimate partner, family member, or stranger and these varying relationships may determine the impact of the assault. While any victim of rape is apt to experience negative consequences, women whose attacker is someone they know may be affected in especially negative ways. I review what is known about these issues below. In this dissertation I hypothesize that women raped by someone known to them experience different consequences than do women who are raped by strangers. Based on prior research, we know that victims of acquaintance rape are less apt than victims of stranger rape to label the experience of sexual assault as rape (Koss et al. 1988; Shotland and Goodstein 1983), less likely to report their victimization to the police (Eateal 1994; Kanin 1984; Koss 1985; Koss et al. 1985; Webster and Dunn 2005), and more likely to be blamed by others and, in turn, to blame themselves (Adams-Price et al. 2004; Benedict 1992; Brownmiller 1975; Freetly and Kane 1995; McEwan et al., 2005; Pitts and Shwartz 1997; Pollard 1992; Viki et al. 2004; Whatley 1996). Traumatic events such as rape can have devastating effects on survivors many years after the traumatic event occurs (Briere, Woo, McRae, & Sitzman 1997; Frazier et al 2004). These effects include self-blame, fear, anxiety, loss of self-esteem, depression, impact on family and work life, substance abuse and others (Briere, Woo, McRae, & Sitzman 1997; Burnam et al., 1988; Hanson, Kilpatrick, Falsetti & Resnick 1995; Kilpatrick et al., 1987; Resick 1988, 1993). While research has consistently found that rape victims report more feelings of depression, anxiety, and other traumatic symptoms such as distress (Bifulco, Brown, & Adler 1991; Faravelli, Giugni, Salvatori, & Ricca 2004; Koss et al., 1988; Nagel et al 2005; Resick 1993; Resnick, Kilpatrick, Dansky, & Best 1993; Thompson & West 1992; Ullman, Filipas, Townsend, & Starzynski 2006), there is little consensus—in fact, little research—on the effect of the victim-perpetrator relationship on these consequences. Some find that victims of known- perpetrator rape experience less trauma than do victims of stranger rape (Bownes, O’Gorman, & Sayers 1991; Ellis, Atkeson, & Calhoun 1981). Other research reports no difference (Koss,

Full document contains 125 pages
Abstract: Nearly 75 percent of rapes reported to law enforcement in the U.S. in the recent past were committed by someone known to the victim (Bureau of Justice Statistics 2003). Rape scripts allocate extensive blame to women in known-perpetrator cases thus we have good reasons to understand the consequences for victims of these kinds of rapes (versus stranger-perpetrated rape). Little research focuses on the impact of the victim-perpetrator relationship on the victim's mental well-being. Using the National Survey of Violence Against Women--a nationally representative sample of 8,000 adult women in the United States, this study addresses this issue. The dissertation poses five questions. First, which women have higher odds of being raped and do these odds vary according to their relationship to their rapist? Second, what effects does rape have on a victim's emotional well-being and are these effects shaped by the victim's relationship to her rapist? Third, do dynamics associated with blame, satisfaction with the legal process, and experiences with help-seeking mediate the association between victim-perpetrator relationship and its consequences? Fourth, how do the particulars of the rape (including drug/alcohol use and rape violence affect a victim's mental well-being? Fifth, does prior adversity in the form of physical abuse moderate the relationship between rape the victim's mental well-being? The study tests seven hypotheses. Among the key findings are the following. (1) Some women have higher odds than others of being raped by particular kinds of perpetrators. (2) The experience of rape harms victims' mental well-being, regardless of their relationship to the perpetrator. (3) Help-seeking and blame do not mediate the harm associated with rape except for women raped by relatives, whereas satisfaction--rather dissatisfaction --with the legal process does so. (4) While the victim-perpetrator relationship rape fails to significantly predict depression and substance abuse after a rape occurs, women who were raped by partners and relatives who used drugs or alcohol during the rape appear to suffer somewhat lower rates of mental depression afterwards. (5) Finally, women who had formerly experienced physical abuse (either as a child or adult) reported poorer mental well-being after being raped. Other findings are as follows. The impact of rape on a victim is affected by the relationship of the victim and her rapist, even within the known-perpetrator category. Being raped by a partner appears to have unique effects. Partner-perpetrated rapes are particularly violent and they result in a higher likelihood of reporting by the victim to the authorities. Yet women who are raped by a partner are no more likely than other victims are to have charges filed in their cases. Third, rapes by a date or boyfriend fail to predict poorer mental well-being in the victim, compared to women raped by other types of known perpetrators. This study applied theory to portions of the analysis--Just World Hypothesis, Crisis Theory and Cumulative Adversity Theory--with a goal of ascertaining if the effects of rape vary for women raped by different types of perpetrators, some support was found for the latter two theories but none for the Just World Hypothesis. The study offers post-hoc interpretations for why date rape appears to harm a victim's mental well-being less than other types of known-perpetrator rapes, why the perpetrator's use of drugs/alcohol during commission of rapes by partners or relatives seem less destructive for victims, and why blame by society or by the victim in acquaintance rapes appears to protect the victim against depression. The study concludes with a caution about some limitations of the sample, measures, and analysis and with suggestions about the policy and research implications of the findings.