College women's experiences of sexual coercion: a review of cultural, perpetrator, victim, and situational variables

Trauma Violence Abuse. 2004 Apr;5(2):91-122. doi: 10.1177/1524838003262331.


The literature on college women's experiences with sexual coercion is reviewed, with an emphasis on work published since 1990. Sexual coercion is defined as any situation in which one person uses verbal or physical means (including the administration of drugs or alcohol, with or without the other person's consent) to obtain sexual activity against consent. We argue that coercive sexual behavior among college students can best be understood within the context of other sexual behaviors and values on college campuses. Significant definitional and methodological problems are identified and discussed. Important victim, perpetrator, and situational variables are identified and discussed. These include attitudes toward women, beliefs about sexual behavior (including rape-supporting beliefs and values), communication problems, coercion-supporting peer groups (including fraternities and athletics), concepts of masculinity and femininity, sexual promiscuity, and alcohol.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aggression
  • Coercion*
  • Crime Victims / psychology*
  • Cultural Characteristics*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Peer Group
  • Rape / prevention & control
  • Rape / psychology*
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology*
  • Social Environment
  • Students* / psychology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / complications
  • United States
  • Violence / psychology
  • Women's Health
  • Women's Rights*