Sexual Aggression in Romantic Relationships
Although society often focuses on rapes by strangers, recent national survey ﬁndings reveal that relational partners account for 62% of the sexual assaults committed againstwomenover the ageof 18. Sexual assaults, attemptedassaults, and less forceful means of aggression occur in the romantic relationships of adolescents, young adults, and married individuals, as well as among gays and lesbians. In this chapter, we examine sexual aggression and its correlates across all of these relationships. Initially, we review reports on the frequency of sexual aggression. Next, we explore the relational dynamics that play a role in this form of aggression. We then critically examine three levels of social support for sexual aggression-support that exists in the social networks of aggressors, support in the social organizations that aggressors belong to, and support that can be found in our culture. This is followed by an examination of individual characteristics that typify aggressors, and the negative outcomes that their victims often suffer. Finally, we evaluate the effectiveness of different prevention approaches and offer suggestions for future research.