Category: Violence / Aggression
Sexual aggression is a form of domestic violence (DV) characterized by verbally coercive tactics, threats, or physical force to make an unwilling partner participate in a sexual act. An estimated 10 million women are victims of sexual aggression by an intimate partner in their lifetime (Walters et al., 2013). Men with a history of DV were found to have higher rates of sexual aggression perpetration than men in the general population (Martin et al., 2007). Thus, it is imperative to investigate risk factors for sexual aggression among this population. Research suggested that sexual aggression and addictive behaviors (e.g., substance use and behavioral addictions) frequently co-occur such that engagement in one increases the likelihood of the other (Stuart et al., 2009). However, no research has investigated compulsive sexual behavior (CSB; i.e., a pattern of compulsive, excessive, or otherwise problematic sexual behavior), among men arrested for DV. Given the relationship between addictive behaviors and sexual aggression, we hypothesized that men arrested for DV who are at-risk for compulsive sexual behavior would report a greater number of acts of sexual aggression.
Data were collected from 312 men arrested for DV and mandated to participate in a batterer intervention program. The 20 core items of the Sexual Addiction Screening Test- Revised (Carnes, 2010) measured CSB. Those who endorsed six or more items were categorized as at-risk for CSB, while those who endorsed less than six were not. The Sexual Coercion perpetration subscale of the Revised Conflict Tactics Scales (Straus et al., 1996) assessed sexual aggression perpetration.
Results revealed that 35% of men reported perpetrating sexual aggression in the past year. Thirty-one percent of men reported committing a “minor” act of sexual aggression (e.g., verbally coercive tactics), while 13% acknowledged use of “severe” acts of sexual aggression (e.g., threatened or used physical force). Further, 16% of men fell into the at-risk range for CSB. Men who were at-risk for CSB reported significantly more total acts of sexual aggression (M = 11.77, SD = 16.55) than did men who were not at-risk for CSB (M = 4.30, SD = 11.55), t(259) = -3.71, p < .001. Similar significant results were found for “minor” acts of sexual aggression, t(260) = -3.73, p < .001, but not “severe” acts of sexual aggression, t(263) = -1.63, p = .11.
Men arrested for DV who were at-risk for CSB reported more acts of sexual aggression perpetration than men not at risk for CSB, suggesting the need to assess for and further investigate CSB among this population.
Alisa Garner– Graduate Research Assistant, University of Tennessee
Meagan Brem– Graduate Research Assistant, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee
JoAnna Elmquist– Graduate Student, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee
Autumn Rae Florimbio– Graduate Research Assistant, University of Tennessee
Hannah Grigorian– University of Tennessee
Gregory Stuart– Professor, University of Tennessee