Women's unprotected sex intentions: roles of sexual victimization, intoxication, and partner perception

J Sex Res. 2014;51(5):586-98. doi: 10.1080/00224499.2012.763086. Epub 2013 May 29.


Sexually victimized women may make sexual decisions differently than nonvictimized women. This study used an eroticized scenario and laboratory alcohol administration to investigate the roles of victimization history, intoxication, and relationship context in women's perceptions of a male partner and their subsequent intentions for unprotected sex. A community sample of 436 women completed childhood sexual abuse (CSA) and adolescent/adult sexual assault (ASA) measures. After random assignment to an alcohol or control condition, participants read and projected themselves into a sexual scenario that depicted the male partner as having high or low potential for a lasting relationship. Participants rated their perceptions of his intoxication, sexually transmitted infection (STI) risk level, and anticipated reactions to insistence on condom use. They then indicated their likelihood of allowing the partner to decide how far to go sexually (abdication) and of engaging in unprotected sex. Structural equation modeling (SEM) analyses revealed that intoxication predicted greater unprotected sex likelihood indirectly via abdication. CSA and ASA predicted partner perceptions, which in turn predicted unprotected sex likelihood. These findings indicate that, compared to their nonvictimized counterparts, sexually victimized women may respond differently in sexual encounters partly as a function of their perceptions of partners' STI risk and anticipated reactions to condom insistence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Adult Survivors of Child Abuse / psychology*
  • Alcoholic Intoxication / psychology*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intention
  • Sex Offenses / psychology*
  • Social Perception*
  • Unsafe Sex / psychology*
  • Young Adult