Social Anxiety as a Risk Factor of Sexual Victimization in College Women

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Virginia Tech

Sexual victimization is a significant problem on college and university campuses, and it is important to evaluate risk factors for sexual victimization in order to attempt to reduce women's risk of victimization. This study investigated social interaction anxiety as a risk factor for sexual victimization. It was hypothesized that social interaction anxiety may increase risk of sexual victimization by decreasing sexual assertiveness and increasing alcohol-related problems. College women (n = 690) completed an online survey that assessed social interaction anxiety, sexual assertiveness, alcohol-related problems, and a variety of types of sexual victimization, in addition to other measures. When total effects were examined, social interaction anxiety only significantly predicted victimization by coercion. However, when indirect effects of sexual assertiveness were examined, social interaction anxiety had a significant effect on all types of sexual victimization (i.e., unwanted sexual contact, attempted coercion, coercion, attempted rape, and rape). Alcohol-related problems did not significantly account for the relationship between social interaction anxiety and sexual victimization. It is recommended that interventions designed to reduce women's risk of victimization include interventions designed to address both social interaction anxiety and sexual refusal assertiveness.

assertiveness, sexual assault, alcohol-related problems, social anxiety