Abstract: Prevalence and Demographic Correlates of Campus Sexual Assault Victimization: Findings from a National Sample (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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Prevalence and Demographic Correlates of Campus Sexual Assault Victimization: Findings from a National Sample

Friday, January 13, 2023
Hospitality 3 - Room 432, 4th Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Lisa Fedina, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, MI
Rich Tolman, Professor, University of Michigan
Louise Ashwell, MSW, Research Assistant, University of Michigan
Todd Herrenkohl, PhD, Professor, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, MI
Background: Preventing sexual assault among college students is a national priority. Yet, vast discrepancies exist in available prevalence data, largely due to inconsistencies in the way data are collected and analyzed. Other understudied factors, such as demographic differences among student groups also make it difficult to estimate the prevalence of campus sexual assault victimization, which is needed to inform preventive interventions for students most at risk for sexual assault. This assesses subgroup differences (i.e., race/ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation) in campus sexual assault, dating abuse, and harassment using a large demographically diverse dataset.

Methods: Data were analyzed from the 2019-2020 Haven Online Campus Sexual Assault Intervention which consists of preintervention and postintervention data gathered from entering college students to whom the Haven intervention was delivered across 50 states in the U.S. (N = 774,681). Three single-item self-report postintervention measures were used to assess victimization within the first 3 months of entering college (i.e., unwanted sexual contact, dating abuse, harassment). Descriptive and bivariate statistics were used to estimate the prevalence of victimization and perpetration outcomes across student sub-populations.

Results: Results indicate statistically significant differences in rates of all three victimization types based on gender identity, sexual orientation, and race/ethnicity. Trans women (6.1%), queer students (5.8%), and multiracial/other racial identity students (4.6%) reported the highest rates of unwanted sexual contact victimization. Within gender groups, significant differences by race and sexual orientation were found; such that, Black trans women (23.1%) and Native American gender minority groups (i.e., genderqueer, gender non-conforming; 25.9%, 20%, respectively) reported the highest rates of unwanted sexual contact within gender groups. Bisexual women (6.1%), gay-identified trans women (22.9%), lesbian-identified trans men (23.5%), reported among the highest rates of unwanted sexual contact. Similar patterns were also found for dating abuse and harassment.

Conclusions: Findings highlight the need for tailored interventions and campus prevention measures for students disproportionately impacted by campus sexual assault. Risk and protective factors, including the role of structural discrimination as well as community strengths, should be targeted to prevent victimization and its associated social, academic, and health consequences.