Objectives: To investigate the occurrence of rape/attempted rape and verbal sexual coercion among an ethnically diverse adolescent population and to evaluate whether unique risk factors existed for victims of either type of forced sexual experience.
Design: Cross-sectional survey assessing sexual violence within the past 12 months, behaviors that occurred on each subject's most recent date, and the occurrence of unwanted sexual experiences on any dates in the past year and details about that date. Subjects identified as experiencing either rape/attempted rape or verbal sexual coercion were compared with nonvictims using bivariate and multivariate analyses.
Setting: Urban adolescent health care facility.
Participants: Female adolescents and young adults (n = 689) between the ages of 14 and 23 years who presented for care and met the eligibility criteria.
Results: Approximately 30% of young women reported having an unwanted sexual experience in the past year. The risk of rape/attempted rape was increased by past mild to moderate (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 4.27) or severe (AOR = 15.24) physical aggression by the dating partner; date-specific behaviors, including decreased level of romantic involvement (AOR = 0.63 per point decline) and going to the perpetrator's house to be alone (AOR = 3.01); past sexual victimization as an adolescent (AOR = 4.70); and lower levels of self-reported ethnic identity (AOR = 1.07 per point decline). More important, alcohol use by the victim or perpetrator was unrelated to an increased risk of rape/attempted rape. The risk of verbal sexual coercion was increased by past mild to moderate (AOR = 4.38) or severe (AOR = 13.79) verbal aggression from the dating partner; date-specific behaviors, including decreased level of romantic involvement (AOR = 0.70 per point decline) and greater number of past dates (AOR = 7.53); going to the perpetrator's house to be alone (AOR = 3.52); past sexual victimization as an adolescent (AOR = 9.83); pressures to use alcohol (AOR = 9.49); the victim not drinking alcohol during the date (AOR = 14.38); and increasing age discrepancy between victim and perpetrator (AOR = 1.23 per year increase).
Conclusions: Approximately 1 in 4 urban young women reported having experienced verbal sexual coercion or rape/attempted rape by a date or acquaintance in the past year. Distinct risk profiles for rape/attempted rape and verbal sexual coercion were identified when compared with those who did not report any victimization.