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RESEARCH ARTICLE

Experiences of sexual coercion in a representative sample of adults: the Second Australian Study of Health and Relationships

Richard O. de Visser A I , Paul B. Badcock B C , Chris Rissel D , Juliet Richters E , Anthony M. A. Smith B H , Andrew E. Grulich F and Judy M. Simpson G
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A School of Psychology, Pevensey 1, University of Sussex, Falmer BN1 9QH, UK.

B Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, La Trobe University, 215 Franklin Street, Melbourne, Vic. 3000, Australia.

C Centre for Youth Mental Health, University of Melbourne, Orygen Youth Health Research Centre, 35 Poplar Road, Parkville, Vic. 3052, Australia.

D Sydney School of Public Health, Charles Perkins Centre (D17), University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.

E School of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia.

F The Kirby Institute, Wallace Wurth Building, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia.

G Sydney School of Public Health, Edward Ford Building (A27), University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.

H Deceased.

I Corresponding author. Email: rd48@sussex.ac.uk

Sexual Health 11(5) 472-480 https://doi.org/10.1071/SH14103
Submitted: 7 June 2014  Accepted: 22 August 2014   Published: 7 November 2014

Abstract

Background: It is important to have current reliable estimates of the prevalence, correlates and consequences of sexual coercion among a representative sample of Australian adults and to identify changes over time in prevalence and consequences. Methods: Computer-assisted telephone interviews were completed by a representative sample of 20 094 Australian men and women aged 16–69 years. The participation rate among eligible people was 66.2%. Results: Sexual coercion (i.e. being forced or frightened into sexual activity) was reported by 4.2% of men and 22.4% of women. Sexual coercion when aged ≤16 years was reported by 2.0% of men and 11.5% of women. Correlates of sexual coercion were similar for men and women. Those who had been coerced reported greater psychosocial distress, were more likely to smoke, were more anxious about sex and more likely to have acquired a sexually transmissible infection. Few people had talked to others about their experiences of sexual coercion and fewer had talked to a professional. There were no significant differences between the First and Second Australian Study of Health and Relationships in whether men or women had experienced coercion, talked to anyone about this or talked to a counsellor or psychologist. Conclusion: Sexual coercion has detrimental effects on various aspects of people’s lives. It usually occurs at the ages at which people become sexually active. There is a need to reduce the incidence of sexual coercion, better identify experiences of sexual coercion, and provide accessible services to minimise the detrimental effects of sexual coercion.

Additional keywords: sex, wellbeing.


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