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Sexual Victimization of Adolescent Girls

The top 10 posts from the last 2 years. I know that everyone else does this as a beginning-of-the-year thing in January, but…..

I was surprised to see which posts received the most hits.

Here is # 9  (drum roll, please)

Sexual victimization is awful whenever it occurs.  There is never a “good” time for a young girl or woman to be preyed upon.  There are, however, different results depending on when the victimization occurred.  For example, if a young woman was between 14-17 , it is different than if she was older than 18 years.  I want to summarize a

study that tried to understand the differences between adolescent women and adults.  I hope that it will help you understand the special factors that apply to teenaged girls.

Women are subject to sexual victimization throughout life – as children, teenagers, and adults. For teenaged girls, some lifestyle choices make sexual victimization more likely.  For example, if an adolescent girl drinks or uses drugs, she is at increased risk because adults are probably not around, more potential perpetrators are around, and there are fewer protections against assault.  Also, because drinking and drug use are illegal, she is probably doing it in a location that might be isolated, unsupervised and with some unsafe peers.  People may see her (or wish to see her) as sexually unconventional which allows them to approach her.  If she is drunk or stoned, the potential perpetrator has less fear that she will fight back.

Adolescent girls are prime targets for all the reasons listed above and more.  They are often attractive, desirable sexually, interested in social outings, beginning to experiment with dating, out and about without masculine back-up/dates/brothers, and unlikely to be supervised.   They are smaller than men, have few defensive strategies, are inexperienced with substance abuse, and are reluctant to get help because they fear the social repercussions.   It becomes the perfect storm.

Comparing victimization of adolescent girls with adults, you can see differences:

Perpetrator  of Adolescents is: astranger, acquaintance, or friend

Perpetrator  of Adults is : a current or former partner

Adolescent’s History with Perp: no sexual history

Adult’s History with Perp:   prior sexual history

Location  of Assault with Adolescent: parties

Location of Assault with Adult: home after being in a bar

For adolescent girls, if there had been a prior relationship, the scenarios varied from being with a date when the sexuality increased past her comfort to break ups scenes where the ex-boyfriend became enraged.

For adolescent girls, if there was no prior relationship, sexual victimization usually occurred at a party with peers.  There was always drinking.  Perpetrators were known but they were not boyfriends or dates.  Males took advantage of an opportunity to force her into sex.  The boys justified their behavior by believing that the girls were available because they were at the party.

This post was based on the reults of a study by Jennnifer A. Livingston, Amy Hequembourg, Maria Testa, and Carol VanZile-Tamsem.  “Unique Aspects of Adolescent Sexual Victimization Experiences” Psychology of Women Quarterly, 2007, volume 31 pp.331-343.


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