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Journal Article


Cleveland HH, Koss MP, Lyons J. J. Interpers. Violence 1999; 14(5): 532-547.


(Copyright © 1999, SAGE Publishing)






This study uses sexual assault data drawn from both standard questionnaires and unstructured narratives to examine the association between the victim/perpetrator relationship and the tactics used to commit sexual assault. Participants, who were raped by strangers, acquaintances, dates, steady boyfriends, husbands, ex-husbands, and other relatives, provided narrative accounts of their rape experiences and responses to standard questionnaire items. Narratives were coded for the occurrence of different perpetrator behaviors such as use of force, threats of negative consequences, and use of alcohol or drugs to commit the rape. Based on factor analysis, these narrative-derived items were combined with questionnaire items to form two tactic scales: Power Tactics and Drug Tactics. Analysis revealed that tactic use varied according to the relationship between perpetrators and victims, and the use of Power Tactics was uncorrelated with use of Drug Tactics across all relationship types.

VioLit summary:

The purpose of this study by Cleveland et al. was to explore tactics used by perpetrators of rape. The focus of the study was to compare tactics across different levels of victim-perpetrator relationships.

The authors drew their data from interviews and questionnaires from 257 rape victims. Participants were all university employees, and were recruited through a survey by mail. The mean age of the women was 37, and Anglo-American was the most common ethnicity. More than 85% had attended at least some college, 31% were college graduates, and 24% had graduate degrees. Participants were asked to provide an open narrative account of an unwanted sexual experience. While the word ërape' was not used in the interview, the authors found that all 257 participants met the criteria for rape. The Sexual Experience Survey was used to screen for rape. In order to assess the nature of the perpetrator/victim relationship, participants were asked to define their relationship with the perpetrator according to the following categories: (a) a stranger, (b) a nonromantic acquaintance, (c) a date, (d) a steady lover, (e) a husband, (f) an ex-husband, or (g) another relative or other. Based on the interviews, the authors coded six categories of coercive tactics: (1) promise of positive consequences, (2) threats of negative consequences, (3) demand for silence, (4) isolation used to accomplish the rape, (5) alcohol used as a specific tactic, and (6) drugs used as a specific tactic. Factor analysis was used to create the two categories of tactics: power tactics and drug tactics. ANOVA and regression analyses were utilized.

The authors focused on some general question: (1) Were tactics associated? (2) Were tactics associated with the type of relationship between victim and perpetrator? The two scales (drug and alcohol tactics and power tactics) were not statistically associated. The authors also found, using regression analysis, that the interaction between drug tactics and degree of relationship was not a significant predictor of power tactics. The authors also found that the degree of acquaintance did not affect the relationship between the two categories of tactics. Comparing mean differences in tactic use among the different perpetrator/victim relationships, the authors found that strangers used more power tactics than all other groups except the ex-husband. Also, as the level of closeness increased, the number of power tactics used decreased. Comparisons also revealed that the husband group used fewer drug tactics than acquaintance and date groups, but than none of the other relationships were statistically significant; that is, no other groups were statistically different from each other. In terms of tactics used, isolation was noted most often, followed by alcohol, demands for silence, negative consequences, drugs, and finally, positive consequences.
The authors' major finding was that there was no significant relationship between type of tactics (power or drug and/or alcohol). This was true regardless of the type of relationship the perpetrator and victim shared. This tactic-independence is important for interventions, according to the authors, because perpetrators may be inclined to move from tactic to tactic as tactical options are closed off. The authors noted that prevention efforts that focus solely on alcohol use may be less successful than hoped. The authors found that the closer the relationship between victim and perpetrator (except ex-husbands) the fewer power tactics used. Alcohol and drug tactics were used most often in the acquaintance and date rape groups. This finding was consistent, according to the authors, to previous research. The authors concluded that these findings reveal the importance of context in the use of variable tactics. The authors proposed that these findings might be due to (a) the amount of time having known the victim or (b) the context surrounding the victim and the perpetrator. The authors noted the following limitations to the study: (1) an ethnically homogeneous sample; (2) small cells (e.g., the category "ex-husbands" was small: n=9); (3) the sample left out attempted rapes; (4) the unstructured narrative cut off gaining more specific data; and (5) perpetrators were not involved in the study.

The authors suggested that this research shows that intervention may be more effective if they target attitudes and traits of men who are at risk for being coercive, rather than men who have committed rape while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. (CSPV Abstract - Copyright © 1992-2007 by the Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence, Institute of Behavioral Science, Regents of the University of Colorado)

KW - Victim Perceptions
KW - Sexual Assault Causes
KW - Sexual Assault Perceptions
KW - Sexual Assault Victim
KW - Acquaintance Rape
KW - Date Rape
KW - Dating Violence Causes
KW - Dating Violence Victim
KW - Dating Violence Perceptions
KW - Rape Perceptions
KW - Rape Causes
KW - Rape Victim
KW - Spouse Abuse Rape
KW - Spouse Abuse Causes
KW - Spouse Abuse Victim
KW - Spouse Abuse Perceptions
KW - Victim Offender Relations
KW - Offender Substance Use
KW - Substance Use Effects
KW - Drug Use Effects
KW - Alcohol Use Effects
KW - Victim Substance Use
KW - Sexual Coercion
KW - Partner Violence
KW - Violence Against Women
KW - Offense Characteristics
KW - Adult Female
KW - Adult Perceptions
KW - Adult Victim
KW - Female Perceptions
KW - Female Victim
KW - Stranger Violence

Language: en


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