Perceived conflict patterns and r...
http://jiv.sagepub.com Violence Journal of Interpersonal DOI: 10.1177/0886260507313949 2008 23 798 originally published online Feb 13, 2008 J Interpers Violence Jennifer Katz and Laura Myhr With Verbal Sexual Coercion by Male Dating Partners Perceived Conflict Patterns and Relationship Quality Associated http://jiv.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/23/6/798 The online version of this article can be found at: Published by: http://www.sagepublications.com On behalf of: American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children can be found at: Journal of Interpersonal Violence Additional services and information for http://jiv.sagepub.com/cgi/alerts Email Alerts: http://jiv.sagepub.com/subscriptions Subscriptions: http://www.sagepub.com/journalsReprints.nav Reprints: http://www.sagepub.com/journalsPermissions.nav Permissions: http://jiv.sagepub.com/cgi/content/refs/23/6/798 Citations at MIDWESTERN STATE UNIV on September 7, 2009 http://jiv.sagepub.com Downloaded from
Perceived Conflict Patterns and Relationship Quality Associated With Verbal Sexual Coercion by Male Dating Partners Jennifer Katz Laura Myhr State University of New York, College at Geneseo The study of verbal sexual coercion in heterosexual relationships is controver- sial because nonphysical coercive tactics are often viewed as socially accept- able. It was hypothesized that, within couples, verbal sexual coercion will occur within a larger context of destructive conflict tactics and diminished relationship quality. Female undergraduates in consensually sexual dating relationships (N = 193) provided self-report data on male partner verbal sexual coercion per- ceived conflict behaviors, and relationship quality. About 21% reported current partner verbal sexual coercion. Results reveal positive associations between feeling pressured into unwanted sex and perceptions of partner psychological abuse and destructive verbal conflict patterns. Also as expected, partner verbal sexual coercion is negatively associated with relationship satisfaction and sexual functioning. The authors conclude that women’s experiences of verbal sexual coercion in heterosexual relationships may reflect broader problems in the dyadic context. Keywords: sexual coercion relationship quality conflict dating relationships Mtionships. any women endure unwanted sexual experiences in romantic rela- About 34% of women in a nationally representative sample reported unwanted sex with spouses or other partners nonphysical forms of partner pressure leading to sex were commonly reported (Basile, 2002). Journal of Interpersonal Violence Volume 23 Number 6 June 2008 798-814 © 2008 Sage Publications 10.1177/0886260507313949 http://jiv.sagepub.com hosted at http://online.sagepub.com 798 Authors’Note: The authors gratefully acknowledge Pamela May and Jessica Moore for assis- tance with data management and the comments of anonymous reviewers on an earlier draft of this article. Portions of this article were presented at a conference of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, Chicago, November 2006. at MIDWESTERN STATE UNIV on September 7, 2009 http://jiv.sagepub.com Downloaded from
Katz, Myhr / Sexually Coercive Dating Relationships 799 Verbal sexual coercion is one specific form of unwanted sex because of psychological pressure. Victims of verbal coercion capitulate to escape partner pressure for sex and to avoid negative consequences of persistent sexual refusal, including threats to the relationship (Livingston, Buddie, Testa, & VanZile-Tamsen, 2004). When women “give in” to unwanted sex for social and emotional reasons in the absence of physical threat, it has been debated whether verbal coercion truly reflects victimization (e.g., Muehlenhard & Peterson, 2004). One way to inform questions about the significance of verbal coercion is to examine a specific relational context in which it commonly occurs: heterosexual dating couples. Regardless of how socially acceptable or unacceptable verbal coercion may be, its presence in ongoing, consensually sexual dating relationships may reflect wide-ranging relational problems. Accordingly, the purpose of this research was to explore the potential effects of male partner verbal coercion on college women’s perceptions of general conflict behaviors and relationship quality. Verbal Sexual Coercion and Sexual Precedence Verbal sexual coercion is an especially prevalent type of coerced sex within romantic or sexual relationships. For example, Testa and Livingston (1999) found that 93% of sexually coercive acts reported by women involved men known to them boyfriends and dating partners were most commonly identified. In that same study, 68% of coerced penetration by a current or pre- vious partner involved verbally coercive tactics. Verbal coercion is much more common than are other forms of coercion by intimate partners, who can obtain sexual access without resorting to physical force or substances (Abbey, BeShears, Clinton-Sherrod, & McAuslan, 2004 Basile, 2002). These high prevalence rates may be related to the fact that verbal coercion is often considered to be acceptable, especially in couples who have a history of consensual sex. Specifically, once this sexual precedence has been estab- lished, one or both partners may perceive an obligation to continue to engage in further sexual relations, even if further sexual contact is undesired (Shotland & Goodstein, 1992). For example, observers view rape in the con- text of marriage or a sexual dating relationship as less serious than rape that occurs in a nonsexual dating relationship or that is perpetrated by a stranger (Monson, Langhinrichsen-Rohling, & Binderup, 2000). Sexual consent at one point in time seems to imply future consent, even after a sexual relationship has been legally dissolved through divorce (Ewoldt, Monson, & Langhinrichsen-Rohling, 2000). Thus, sexual precedence seems to create a social expectation of continued sexual availability and obligation. at MIDWESTERN STATE UNIV on September 7, 2009 http://jiv.sagepub.com Downloaded from