Date of Award

Fall 12-2017

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department/Program

Forensic Mental Health Counseling

Language

English

First Advisor

Elizabeth Jeglic

Second Reader

Cynthia Calkins

Third Advisor

Philip Yanos

Abstract

Sexual assault has been and continues to be a prevalent public health and social problem that can lead to severe ramifications for the victim. There has been growing research on multiple perpetrator sexual assault (MPSA) and how it qualitatively differs from single assailant offenses. However, there is a paucity of studies investigating the differences between sexual assault perpetrated by duos versus three or more individuals and how it affects victim behavioral responses and blame attribution. This study aimed to examine the relationship between the perceived level of victim blame and the number of perpetrators in MPSA cases contingent on the degree of victim resistance exhibited. Firstly, it was hypothesized that the level of victim blame will increase as the number of perpetrators increase. Secondly, it was predicted that the level of perceived victim blame will increase as the displayed level of victim resistance decreases. Using a two (degree of victim resistance) by three (number of perpetrators) design, a sample of 713 individuals were randomly assigned to one of six conditions. Results indicated that the level of reported victim blame was highest in the lone offender condition, but there were no differences between groups when more than one assailant was present. The level of perceived victim blame was higher in the low victim resistance condition compared to the high victim resistance condition. Understanding the characteristics of MPSA and how it affects observer blame attribution may aid in the training and education of professionals working with MPSA victims.

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