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Profile of Young Victims of Unwanted Sexual Experiences: a Gender Comparison Using a Swiss National Survey

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Youths are particularly at risk of experiencing sexual victimization but research tends to focus on the most violent forms (i.e. rape or child sexual abuse) and on female cases. This study aimed at identifying factors associated to different types of unwanted sexual experiences (USE) among young females and males as well as estimating probabilities of experiencing sexual victimization among gender.


Data were drawn from a cross-sectional survey on sexual health and behaviors using a nationally representative sample of youths aged 24–26 living in Switzerland. Respondents (N = 5290) were divided in three categories of reported USE, ordered by conceptualized severity. The fourth group was constituted of those never having experienced any. Weighted bivariate and multivariate analyses were performed using demographic characteristics and risk behavior indicators.


At the multivariate level, the higher the severity of USE, the higher the number of associated factors, revealing the complexity of this issue. Females had a higher probability of experiencing sexual victimization than of never experiencing any, with a probability of two out of three. They faced higher probabilities of sexual victimization than males, although males’ probability of USE were not as marginal as expected, further considering that they are found to face higher rates of non-disclosure than females.


USE is a complex issue, and the level of complexity increases in parallel with its severity. Although it is much more frequent among females, males report highers rates than expected.

Policy implications

When investigating sexual victimization, there is a need to consider the diverse forms of USE and adopt a gendered approach in order to better comprehend sexual victimization and effectively intervene on the social, legal, and public health levels to prevent sexual victimization among youths.

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The survey on sexual health and behaviors of young people living in Switzerland was financed by the Swiss National Science Foundation (grant no.162538).

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Correspondence to Joan-Carles Surís.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the Ethics committee in research of the canton of Vaud and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Auderset, D., Akre, C., Barrense-Dias, Y. et al. Profile of Young Victims of Unwanted Sexual Experiences: a Gender Comparison Using a Swiss National Survey. Sex Res Soc Policy 18, 127–136 (2021).

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  • Youths
  • Sexual victimization
  • Sexual health
  • Risks
  • Switzerland