Sexual coercion associated with rape myths and sexual attitudes in college students

Gabriela Saldívar Hernández, Alberto Jiménez Tapia, Reyna Gutiérrez Reynaga, Martha Romero Mendoza



Sexual violence occurs when an individual obtains sexual interaction through coercion, intimidation, blackmail, lesions or threats of physical harm. It ranges from slight approaches to rape, and involves some kind of persuasion to obtaining unwanted sexual interactions; it happens more often in dating relationships. The aim of this paper is to measure the association of sexual attitudes and the acceptance of rape myths with sexual coercion in a sample of college students, and compare these variables by sex and age. The sample was non-probabilistic and included 630 students (51% had experiences of sexual coercion); 71% of men reported practicing sexual coercion. Women who practiced sexual coercion had a less traditional sexual attitude than men (F= 21.413, p<.001), and women who faced sexual coercion had a more permissive attitude in sexual interactions (F=37.432, p<.001). Men who faced sexual coercion blamed rape victims more than women (F=10.603, p=.001). Younger men also blamed rape victims more than the older ones (F=9.841, p=.002). When women use sexual coercion it seems to have a paradoxical implication regarding their gender role. It also appears to be a problem for negotiating safe sexual encounters; women who reported more sexual permissiveness seem to participate more frequently in unplanned sexual interactions and they may be more vulnerable to coercion. It is necessary to modify beliefs about abusive sexual behaviors being normal in dating relationships.


Sexual violence; sexual coercion; rape myths; sexual attitudes; young