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ERIC Number: EJ950745
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Dec
Pages: 13
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 33
ISSN: ISSN-0361-6843
A Match-and-Motivation Model of How Women Label Their Nonconsensual Sexual Experiences
Peterson, Zoe D.; Muehlenhard, Charlene L.
Psychology of Women Quarterly, v35 n4 p558-570 Dec 2011
Many rape victims are unacknowledged rape victims--they report an experience meeting researchers' operational definitions of rape but do not label their experience as rape. The purpose of this study was to investigate women's decisions about whether to label their experiences as rape. Participants were 77 college women (predominantly White; mean age = 19.23) who had experienced rape according to the study's operational definition. The researchers used open-ended questionnaires and interviews to explore participants' explanations for labeling or not labeling their experience as rape. Explanations were related to "match"--whether the incident matched their rape script (e.g., whether the man fit their image of a rapist; whether they fought back)--and to "motivation"--the perceived consequences of using the label (e.g., discomfort with thinking of the perpetrator as a rapist; feeling less self-blame vs. feeling less control or more traumatized). Over time, participants were more likely to label their experience as rape. Results suggested that individuals differ in the meanings that they ascribe to the label rape. For some individuals, labeling their experience as rape may be adaptive; for others, it may be unhelpful or even harmful. Researchers, clinicians, and advocates should use caution in imposing their own preferred labels on other women's experiences. (Contains 1 note and 1 table.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A