Date of this Version
Published in Women’s Studies International Forum 94 (2022) 102631
Rarely are perpetrators found guilty of sexual assault when the victim engaged in sex with the perpetrator following the sexual assault. Although the recent trial of Harvey Weinstein is an exception, the fact that his accusers engaged in consensual sex with him following the alleged assaults ignited debate that garnered international attention. The purpose of this paper was to conduct a systematic review to (1) document the extent to which victims engage in sex with the perpetrator following a sexual assault and (2) examine theoretical explanations for this phenomenon. Five peer-reviewed journal articles published between 1988 and 2016 were identified. Whereas rates of sex following a sexual assault where it is unclear based on study methodology if it was consensual ranged from 11 % to 64 %, rates of consensual sex following a sexual assault (where it is clear based on study methodology that it was consensual) ranged from 8 % to 32 %. Although evolutionary perspectives have been used by some researchers to explain this phenomenon, we suggest alternative explanations, grounded in feminist understandings of violence against women, for why a victim may have consensual sex with a perpetrator following a sexual assault. Finally, we identify areas for future research and discuss practice-based implications.
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