Unwanted Sexual Experiences: The Impact on Women's Transition to College

Jennifer M. Demers, Vicki L. Banyard, Elise N. Pepin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


High rates of unwanted sexual experiences are a problem in college communities. First-year female students are especially vulnerable to victimization. This study examined the incidence of victimization in a convenience sample of 563 women at two New England universities, during their first semester of college. The aim of the study was to examine changes in social support and indicators of well-being over time that may be associated with experiencing sexual violence. It was hypothesized that victimized participants would report overall decreases in social support and well-being, as well as overall higher levels of stress, than students who were not victimized. Measures of social support and psychological distress were assessed at two points, during their first month of college and during the last few weeks of their first semester. Results indicated that nonvictimized students reported a significant increase in perceived identity, intimacy, and social support (both in availability and in adequacy of support) from time 1 to time 2, as well as a significant decrease in depressive symptoms. Conversely, their victimized counterparts remained somewhat static across all variables, with the exception of a small decrease in perceived identity and a slight increase in the perceived adequacy of friend support. Baseline scores across measures at time 1 were similar for all participants with the only significant differences appearing at time 2, suggesting that victimized students do not experience the positive growth that is seen among their nonvictimized peers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)209-213
Number of pages5
JournalViolence and Gender
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2015
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Gender Studies
  • Health(social science)
  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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