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J Adolesc Health. 2000 Dec;27(6):419-24.

Women's vulnerability to sexual assault from adolescence to young adulthood.

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  • 1Department of Sociology, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Greensboro, North Carolina, USA.



To study the vulnerability to sexual assault among undergraduate women.


The respondents were demographically representative of undergraduate women in state-supported universities in the United States. Participants (N = 1569) were surveyed using the Sexual Experiences Survey at the beginning and end of their 1st year and at the end of each of the next 3 years of their undergraduate career. Survival analysis was used to determine the risk of initial victimization during specific time intervals from the age of 14 years through the collegiate years as a function of prior victimization. Odds analyses were used to analyze the main and interactive effects of victimization at prior time periods on the probability of victimization at subsequent time periods.


Victimization before the age of 14 years almost doubled the risk of later adolescent victimization (1.8). Furthermore, for those with and without childhood victimization, the risk of an initial sexual assault after the age of 14 years occurred most often in late adolescence, and declined each year thereafter (aged 18-22 years). Sexual victimization among university women was highest for those who had been first assaulted in early adolescence (4.6 times nonvictims). Detailed analyses revealed that the more severe the adolescent experience the greater the risk of collegiate revictimization. Adolescent victims of rape or attempted rape, in particular, were 4.4 times more likely to be as seriously assaulted during their 1st year of college.


A linear path model is suggested. Childhood victimization increased the risk of adolescent victimization, which in turn significantly affected the likelihood of revictimization among college women.

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