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Meeting the Needs of Adolescent and Emerging Adult Victims of Sexual Violence in Their Romantic Relationships

28 March 2019

Publication Date
March 2019

Original Abstract
Sexual dating violence is highly prevalent within the context of intimate relationships but this form of violence remains understudied among teenagers and emerging adults. To identify the specific needs of adolescents and emerging adults who reported sexual dating violence, this study aimed to document the: 1) prevalence of sexual DV; 2) perceived social support and help-seeking strategies; 3) facilitating factors and barriers.

A total 396 heterosexual youths and emerging adults (aged 14–25) participated in this study focussing on issues associated with romantic and sexual relationships, including experiences of victimization and help-seeking strategies. This analysis relied on a mixed methods design. Sexual dating violence in the last 12 months was assessed using an adapted version of the Sexual Experiences Survey (Koss et al., 2007).

Semi-structured interviews were conducted with a subsample of 100 youths and emerging adults. Close to 30% of participants reported having experienced at least one episode of sexual dating violence in the past year. Participants could count on a friend and/or a parent but girls were more likely to seek help compared to boys. Effect sizes were moderate to small. Several barriers were identified, including, having to disclose intimate aspects of their personal life to a stranger.

Given ambiguities regarding sexual consent and sexual violence within the context of an intimate relationship, victims expressed reluctance to get formal support. These findings support the relevance of exploring barriers and facilitators to help-seeking to improve access to services for adolescents and emerging adults who report sexual DV.

Fernet, M., Hébert, M., Couture, S. and Brodeur, G. (2019). Meeting the needs of adolescent and emerging adult victims of sexual violence in their romantic relationships: A mixed methods study exploring barriers to help-seeking. Child abuse & Neglect, 91, 41-51. DOI: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2019.01.019

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sexual violence, adolescents, emerging adults, youth, support, intimate relationship, romantic relationship, needs, help, help-seeking, victims, sexuality, sexual relations, sexual consent, dating, help services


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