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The Impact of Sexual Assault History on Perceived Consequences of Risky Dating Scenarios

Katherine E. Porter

Previous research demonstrates a history of sexual assault is a substantial risk factor for future sexual assaults [1, 2]. Several studies suggest differences in risk detection may contribute to this pattern [e.g., 3]. The purpose of this study was to investigate if sexual victimization impacts perception and response in dating scenarios; and assessed if differences existed between the perceived risk and benefits of remaining in risky interpersonal situations as a function of sexual assault history. One hundred and eleven female college students viewed and responded to two videos depicting dating vignettes. Results indicated participants did not differ in their perception of risk as a function of sexual assault history; however, those with a sexual assault history indicated they would stay in the situation longer in some instances. Additionally, when asked to predict what would happen if the scenario continued, participants with a history of sexual assault were significantly more likely to predict the characters would have consensual sex if the female remained and negative social consequences if she chose to leave. The potential clinical implications of these findings are discussed.