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The Sexual Victimization Experiences of Men Attending College: A Mixed Methods Investigation

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Emerging research supports that men attending college are at elevated sexual assault risk. However, research is limited by assessment issues as well as a lack of examination of how men conceptualize their experiences. The current study sought to expand our understanding of college men’s sexual assault experiences via a mixed methods study. Fifty-eight U.S. college men (11.2% of a sample of 518 men) reported a sexual assault history since age 14 and completed measures of their assault characteristics, psychological adjustment, and alcohol use. A total of 44 also provided a written narrative of the assault. Results supported that men’s assaults often occurred in party/drinking contexts and that many were impaired from substances. Over two-thirds were assaulted by a female perpetrator, with the most common form of assault involving “mismatched intentions” where a perpetrator engaged in nonconsensual sexual behavior during an initially consensual encounter. Substance use interfered with effective resistance for many, and some also stated that they did not resist even though they were able. A total of 43% (n = 19) said the assault had a long-term negative impact, whereas 52% (n = 23) reported a minimal or neutral impact. Overall, findings support a need for sexual assault interventions tailored for male survivors.

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Correspondence to Heather Littleton.

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I, certify, on behalf of all authors, that we have no conflicts of interest to disclose. The research described in this study was conducted in accordance with APA guidelines and standards with regard to ethical conduct of research with human participants. All participants provided full electronic consent to participate. All participants were provided with a debriefing form that described the purpose of the research as well as resources for participants and information about contacting the first author if they had any concerns related to this research. This research was approved by the East Carolina University IRB.

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Littleton, H., Downs, E. & Rudolph, K. The Sexual Victimization Experiences of Men Attending College: A Mixed Methods Investigation. Sex Roles 83, 595–608 (2020).

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