Sexual victimization: incidence, knowledge and resource use among a population of college women

J Pediatr Adolesc Gynecol. 2005 Apr;18(2):91-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jpag.2005.01.002.


Study objective: To assess the incidence of sexual victimization among a convenience sample of college women and evaluate both victims and non-victims' knowledge and use of available on and off campus resources.

Design: Written questionnaire distributed to students in lobbies of two campus libraries and large computing center

Setting: A private northeastern university

Participants: Upper-class undergraduate women (sophomores, juniors and seniors)

Main outcome measures: Respondents (n=234) were asked to complete demographic information, report instances of sexual victimization (including rape, sexual coercion and unwanted sexual contact) that occurred during the 1999-2000 academic year and indicate whether they would or did use either university and/or outside resources available to sexual assault victims.

Results: Of the women who participated, 38% (90/234) affirmed one or more episodes of sexual victimization, with 6% (14/234) reporting a completed rape and 4% (9/234) an attempted rape. Drug or alcohol-related impairment leading to unwanted sexual activity was reported by 15% (35/234) of women. Utilization of available on- and off-campus resources was uncommon among victims (22% and 6%, respectively); 12% contacted health services, while only 4% reported an event to university security. Victims cited fear, embarrassment and guilt, as well as lack of confidentiality, as the most common reasons for failure to use resources.

Conclusions: Increasing campus awareness of sexual victimization and removing barriers to access for victims should remain university goals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking
  • Attitude to Health
  • Coercion
  • Crime Victims / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations
  • Police
  • Rape / statistics & numerical data
  • Rhode Island / epidemiology
  • Sex Offenses / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Student Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Students / statistics & numerical data*
  • Universities*


  • Pharmaceutical Preparations