Volume 2 - 1999

Acquaintance Rape: Victim and Assailant Past Sexual Histories and Attributions of Responsibility

Lisa A. Szulborski & Efi Sichonidis

Acquaintance rape is a common problem on college campuses today. The present study examined the past sexual histories of the victim and assailant in a hypothetical acquaintance rape situation to see if previous sexual experience affected responsibility attribution. Participants (n = 120) were presented with one of four scenarios, each depicting the victim and assailant with a different degree of sexual experience (either a virgin or having had numerous sexual partners). Responsibility attribution measures and the Rape Empathy Scale were administered. The results showed that a victim who was a virgin was held more responsible for an acquaintance rape than a victim who had numerous partners. In addition, when the victim was a virgin, more blame was assigned to the victim when the assailant was also a virgin than when the assailant had numerous partners. These results suggest that virginity seems to be a major consideration when determining acquaintance rape responsibility.

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