Gender Differences Related to the Types of Sexually Abusive Incidents Encountered by Adult Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse
Prior studies have suggested that specific characteristics of sexually abusive experiences, including the presence of force and penetration, have been proposed to account for much of the harm caused by childhood sexual abuse. Though many studies have documented gender differences in the prevalence and sequelae of childhood sexual abuse (CSA), few have examined gender differences related to the types of abusive incidents that victims have encountered, and all have been limited to clinical samples. Illuminating gender differences in the nature of sexually abusive experiences may help to account for gender disparities related to the sequelae of CSA. Extending this line of research to nonclinical samples will help to estimate the overall prevalence of CSA and assess the generalizability of previous study findings. This study examined gender differences in the types of sexually abusive incidents self-reported by 155 victims of CSA who were students enrolled in an undergraduate psychology course at a large southeastern university. Although Chi square analyses failed to reveal any significant gender differences related to the involvement of force in CSA incidents, results did indicate that males were significantly more likely to report being victimized by incidents involving penetration (41.0% vs. 24.1%). Additional statistically significant gender differences included findings that a greater proportion of males (61.5%) than females (37.1%) reported touching the genitals of someone at least five years older before the age of 16, and that males were more likely to report having engaged in anal intercourse before the age of 16 with someone at least five years older (12.8% vs. 2.6%).