An Experimental Investigation of the Perceived Credibility of Complainants of Sexual Revictimization: Disbelief and Victim-Blame

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Abstract

This study investigated whether attitudes toward a complainant of sexual assault are affected by the knowledge that the complainant had previously made a similar allegation. This was a 3 (previous allegation; none, child sexual assault or adult sexual assault) × 2 (whether the previous allegation was substantiated) × 2 (the implied mental health status of the complainant; mental health issue vs. none) multifactorial, experimental study, employing independent-measures and hypothetical vignettes depicting stranger rape scenarios. The dependent variables were victim-blame and believability. The participants were 243 female undergraduate students. A multivariate analyses of variance (MANOVA) revealed several main and interactive effects. Allegations of sexual revictimization were associated with different levels of victim-blame and believability depending on when the previous assault occurred. A history of childhood sexual assault reduced the believability of the complainant and when combined with other factors increased the tendency to attribute victim-blame.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)992-1010
Number of pages19
JournalViolence and Victims
Volume34
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019

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