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Allan Schwartz, Ph.D.Allan Schwartz, Ph.D.
Dr. Schwartz's Weblog

Young Women and Sexual Victimization

Allan N. Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. Updated: Mar 19th 2007

The Research Institute on Addictions at the University of Buffalo recently published the results of a study that showed that eighteen percent of young women report having been sexually molested. The study divided the cases of molestation into two categories: 1. those who were molested by intimates such as a husband, ex husband, boyfriend, ex boyfriend and 2. those who were molested by a stranger. The study defined molestation as unwanted sex by verbal force, rape or attempted rape. Young women were defined as women between the ages of 19 and 30 with the average age being 24.

The study looked at predictors for victimization and found that these were different according to whether the victimization was caused by an intimate or stranger. Victimization at the hands of an intimate was often found to be caused by overly aggressive men who insisted on sex regardless of what the woman said. These young women found it difficult to say no and to be resolute in their statement. In many cases they remained in the relationship with the overly aggressive man.

The major predictor of victimization at the hands of a stranger depended a lot on the amount of drinking that occurred. Women who engaged in binge drinking when socializing tended to be targets once they became inebriated and were among strangers at a party of bar.

Strategies to Prevent Victimization:

Based on the results of the study the researchers suggested different strategies to prevent victimization depending on the type that occurred. Therefore, assertiveness training is suggested for those young women who find it difficult to be firm in enforcing what they want and do not want. The assertiveness training pertains as much to getting out of abusive relationships as it does to being firm.

For those who are victimized by strangers it is suggested that they learn to or get help with reducing episodic binge drinking.


While the study is limited to people who live in the Buffalo, New York area and did include a culturally and racially diverse number of people does it perhaps imply that the sexual victimization is the fault of the women themselves or might this be easily miscontrued by the way it is written?

The article can be found at:

What are your thoughts about and reactions to this study?

Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D.

Readers who live in the Boulder, Colorado metro area, or in Southwest Florida may contact Dr. Schwartz for face-to-face consultation. He is also available for psychotherapy through Skype video for those who are not in Florida or Colorado. He can be reached via email at for details.

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