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Image-Based Sexual Abuse: Victim-Perpetrator Overlap and Risk-Related Correlates of Coerced Sexting, Non-Consensual Dissemination of Intimate Images, and Cyberflashing
The advent of technology has dramatically changed the way sexual violence is perpetrated and experienced. Understanding the context of image-based sexual abuse (IBSA) and risk factors associated with perpetration are key to effective prevention efforts. The present study explores three IBSA behaviours—coerced sexting, non-consensual dissemination of intimate images, and cyberflashing—to examine the degree of victim-perpetrator overlap and what risk factors from the extant sexual violence literature are relevant to each behaviour. Emerging adults (n = 541; 69% female, 31% male) were recruited from a local university in Nova Scotia and the broader community (not specific to Nova Scotia) and reported their perpetration and victimization experiences with the three forms of IBSA. Participants also completed measures relating to their offense-supportive attitudes, dark triad traits, sadism, sexual compulsivity, impulsivity, and substance use. Results indicated substantial victim-perpetrator overlap for non-consensual dissemination of intimate images and cyberflashing. Victim-perpetrators demonstrated a pattern of higher scores across all risk-related measures, the magnitude of which differed across IBSA behaviours. These findings suggest that the broader literature on sexual offending is relevant to understanding IBSA and fits with the wider literature that suggests overlap between victimization and perpetration.
One is the Loneliest Number: Involuntary Celibacy (Incel), Mental Health, and Loneliness
Incels—a ragtag collection of young males who have rallied around their shared experience of romantic rejection—have slowly emerged as an online group of interest to researchers, no doubt as a result of several high-profile attacks. Much of this work has centered around incels’ dating experiences, sexual attitudes, and online forums. However, it is possible that their moniker, short for involuntary celibate, has resulted in an overemphasis on their sexual exclusion and frustration. Recent work has identified social isolation as a key aspect of inceldom, which may help explain why incels have responded negatively to romantic rejection. The present study thus sought to examine the role of social support and loneliness in experiences of rejection in a sample of incel (n = 67) and non-incel (n = 103) men. Results indicated that incels experience more feelings of loneliness and less social supports than non-incel men. Both of these variables were associated with multiple mental and relational health issues that incels also scored more highly on. Further, incels reported using more solitary and problematic coping mechanisms. These results suggest that incels may be missing a key buffer in sheltering them from the adverse effects of romantic rejection. It also extends previous findings highlighting the importance of attachment styles in differentiating incels from non-incels, which may perpetuate feelings of isolation. Implications for how this may relate to incel discourse and clinical interventions are discussed.
Bad Parents? Evaluating Judgements of Infant Homicides
While the killing of one’s own infant is an undoubtedly harrowing crime, there exists little research exploring attitudes toward these individuals. Such work has focused primarily on depictions of mothers, yet U.K. government data indicate that the majority of infant homicide cases involve paternal suspects. A sample of U.K. residents (n = 245) participated in a mixed-methods design to explore attitudes toward mothers and fathers who have been accused of murdering their infant child and whether parental mental health issues impacted these judgements. Results aligned with the chivalry hypothesis wherein maternal suspects were evaluated more leniently. Qualitative analyses uncovered hidden gender expectations: mothers were ascribed blame when the father was accused of infant homicide, a finding that was not present in the reverse scenario. This suggests that traditional views of motherhood conflict with a shifting social landscape that is seeing an increase in stay-at-home fathers and working mothers.
Involuntary Celibacy: A Review of Incel Ideology and Experiences with Dating, Rejection, and Associated Mental Health and Emotional Sequelae
Purpose of Review: Incels (involuntary celibates) have recently garnered media attention for seemingly random attacks of violence. Much attention has centered around the misogynistic and violent discourse that has taken place in online incel forums as well as manifestos written by incels who have perpetrated deadly attacks. Such work overlooks the experiences and issues faced by incels themselves, the majority of which have not engaged in any violent behavior.
Recent Findings: A small number of studies have recruited incels. Results from these studies highlight the nuanced nature of the incel identity. It is also apparent that incels suffer from high levels of romantic rejection and a greater degree of depressive and anxious symptoms, insecure attachment, fear of being single, and loneliness. Summary Incels report significant issues pertaining to their mental, social, and relational well-being and may seek support from forums that often feature misogynistic and violent content.
Attitudes Toward the Punishment of Juvenile and Adult Sexual Offenders in Canada: The Roles of Sentencing Goals and Criminal Justice Motivations
There has long been concern among academics and those in criminal justice professions regarding the public’s seemingly enthusiastic support for punitive responses to sexual offenders, such as long sentences, residency restrictions, registration, and community notification. Yet there has been little research to date on what motives may be driving the endorsement of these policies, particularly registration. Our understanding is further muddled by conflicting research on punitive attitudes in general, with some suggesting that retributive motives are behind such attitudes while others report the efficacy of utilitarian motives. Using a sample of 376 university students, the current study sought to determine whether retributive, utilitarian, or other motives drove support for longer sentences and registration for juvenile and adult sexual offenders. Results indicated that motives largely differed between the two sanctions as well as the two age groups of offenders. Both retributive and utilitarian motives contributed to support for policies, suggesting that these motives work in congruence with one another. This has clear implications for policy discussions, as advocates for criminal justice reform should be appealing to both motives to change societal attitudes.
A Snapshot of Image-Based Sexual Abuse (IBSA): Narrating a Way ForwardThe rise of technology has ushered in a new means of sexual expression, commonly referred to as sexting, which involves the sending of sexual messages or images of oneself to another person. Growing in popularity particularly among youth and young adults, the sending of images to current or potential romantic or sexual partners is increasingly becoming part of courting and relationship maintenance rituals. Yet this new domain of sexual agency has been met with a rise in the non-consensual dissemination of intimate or nude photographs to third parties, in some cases to humiliate or shame the creator of the image. This paper uses a socio-narratological approach to understand the complex consequences that (largely female) victims of image-based sexual abuse (IBSA) experience. Individuals who experience IBSA may undergo perpetuated suffering due to an interwoven constellation of internal and external forces, much of which is rooted in the sexual regulation (if not subjugation) of women. Suffering is presented as originating from three domains: the self, the perpetrator, and society, which interact as a "Dark Triad." The use of socio-narratology to disentangle the suffering may provide victims and mental health professionals with experiential clarity. Further, it offers a way forward for individuals who have experienced this unique form of sexual violence.
Assessing Attitudes Toward Juveniles and Adults Adjudicated for Sexual Offenses in Canada: Does Offender Age Matter?
Over the past several decades, societal responses to juvenile crime has evolved from harsh sentences (including death) to more lenient punishments in congruence with our greater understanding of adolescent development. However, some groups of young offenders, such as those convicted of sexual offenses, appear to have fallen victim to a more punitive zeitgeist, where the mitigating effect of age may be diminished. In a 3 × (2) design, participants were randomly assigned to one of three vignette conditions and completed several measures regarding both juveniles and adults adjudicated for sexual offenses, including attitudes, moral outrage, and recommendations for sentence length and registration. Results indicated that adjudicated juveniles are viewed more favourably than their adult counterparts, although both received relatively long sentences. Further, over 90% of participants endorsed some form of registration for juvenile offenders. Implications for offender reintegration and public policy are discussed below.
Recidivism Risk and Criminogenic Needs of Individuals Who Perpetrated Intimate Partner Sexual Violence Offenses
Despite the common occurrence of sexual violence in intimate partner violence (IPV) and its association with increased risk of intimate partner homicide, intimate partner sexual violence (IPSV) is often overlooked in the literature. As a result, little is known about risk factors that may be unique to IPSV perpetrators. The present study utilizes a police-reported sample to compare the risk/need profiles of 36 IPSV and 36 IPV perpetrators by creating theoretically meaningful risk composites as proxies for a number of the central eight risk/need areas posited by Andrews and Bonta (2010, https://doi.org/10.1037/a0018362). Results indicate that the risk/need profiles of the IPSV group are more severe than the IPV group, with higher scores in measures of substance abuse, relationship instability, sexual aggression, and mental health concerns. Potential implications for IPSV assessment and intervention at the level of policing and correctional programming are discussed, including the need for higher intensity treatments and the treatment
of non-criminogenic needs.
Tipping the Scales: Effects of Gender, Rape Myth Acceptance, and Anti-Fat Attitudes on Judgments of Sexual Coercion Scenarios
A damaging belief exists that to become a victim of sexual violence, victims must be deemed sexually desirable. As a result, sexual violations where the victims are individuals whom society may deem as less attractive—such as overweight women—may elicit less empathy for the victim or minimize the likelihood they are believed. Yet, there is some evidence that overweight women actually report higher rates of sexual violence than women of other weight categories. Although there has been some research implicating weight biases in sexual assault cases, this has not been extended to cases of sexual coercion despite their growing share of police reports. A sample of 168 participants were recruited from Canada via social media (n = 82) and through a midsized university in Ontario, Canada (n = 86). Using a mock jury paradigm, participants responded to a vignette depicting the sexual coercion of a thin or overweight woman. Participants reported their opinions on the sexual coercion scenario, and prejudicial attitudes, using two standardized scales. Men reported greater rape myth acceptance, anti-fat attitudes, and victim responsibility and endorsed significantly more perpetrator mitigating factors and expressed more negative affect toward the victim. Participants in the overweight condition also expressed greater perpetrator sympathy, greater perpetrator mitigation, and less negative affect toward the perpetrator. These results suggest that overweight women may face additional barriers when reporting their experiences of sexual coercion, particularly to men.
Accurately Assessing Gay Men's Erectile Functioning: A Critique of the International Index of Erectile function (IIEF) Use with Gay Men
The International Index of Erectile Functioning (IIEF) has been widely used to measure gay men’s erectile functioning. However, the IIEF was initially developed using a sample of men whose sexual orientation was unspecified. Using scales not validated for specific populations can result in inaccurate assessments. The purpose of the current study was to evaluate the dimensionality, reliability, and validity of the IIEF with a large sample of gay men. One thousand and eighteen men self-identifying as “exclusively gay” completed an online survey consisting of demographics, the IIEF, the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), the Perceived Stress Scale 4 (PSS4), and the Gay Male Sexual Difficulties (GMSD) erectile difficulties sub-scale. The replicability of the IIEF factor structure with a gay male sample was determined using exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses. Additionally, the HADS, PSS4, and GMSD were used to determine the validity of the IIEF. The current study was unable to replicate the IIEF factor structure. Four items required deletion and the factor solution differed from the original. Thus, reinterpretation of the latent variables was deemed necessary. Although the resultant 12-item IIEF evidenced model fit, validity, and reliability, it is not recommended for use with gay men. The revised IIEF is unable to accurately measure gay men’s erectile functioning as the content of the items fail to capture their sexual behaviors (i.e., insertive and receptive anal sex).
Lost in Translation: A Quantitative and Qualitative Comparison of Rape Myth Acceptance
Rape myths (RMs) are a complex set of cultural beliefs and attitudes that support and condone sexual violence, mainly by shifting blame from the perpetrator to the victim. Much empirical attention has been paid to how RMs perpetuate cultural norms that justify sexually assaultive behaviours, with research demonstrating that individuals who have higher rape myth acceptance (RMA) are less likely to believe victims of sexual assault, report their own assault if victimized, and are themselves at an increased risk for sexual violence perpetration. Though several methods exist for assessing RMA, shifting cultural norms make it increasingly difficult to accurately assess RMA using traditional quantitative methods; existing research shows discrepancies in response patterns between qualitative and quantitative examinations of RMAs. In a mock-jury paradigm, university (n = 86) and community-based participants (n = 82) responded to a fictitious police report of sexual coercion between two romantic partners. Results indicated that although respondents endorsed low levels of RMA on a self-report measure (updated IRMA), their qualitative responses endorsed four distinct RMs, such as “she asked for it,” which attributes responsibility for the assault to the victim. Implications and future directions for research will be discussed.
A Survey of Veterinary Medical Professionals' Knowledge, Attitudes, and Experiences with Animal Sexual Abuse
There has been little study of animal sexual abuse (ASA). Subsequently, little is known about veterinary medical professionals’ (e.g., Veterinarians, Veterinary Technicians, Veterinary Nurses) knowledge of ASA and how they may contribute to the prevention of ASA. Thus, the objective of this paper is to comprehensively study ASA in a sample of veterinary medical professionals. Eighty-eight professionals were recruited through professional associations and posts on social media to take part in a survey examining non-sexual animal abuse, ASA, and criminal justice perceptions. Results indicated that, levels of knowledge and training were much lower for ASA than non-sexual abuse. Professionals also responded punitively toward individuals who have committed sexual abuse against animals and supported long prison sentences and registries for offenders. Veterinary medical professionals were supportive of mandatory reporting of all types of abuse but did not feel prepared to testify in these cases should they go to court. These results have implications for practice as they indicate that veterinary medical professionals are not receiving enough training on abuse – particularly ASA – which could put their patients at risk of continued harm.
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