Sexual Coercion Risk and Women’s Sport Participation
Sexual coercion affects approximately 58% of college-age females. Victims of sexual coercion often share similar characteristics, such as lower self-esteem, lower assertiveness, higher depressive symptoms, higher alcohol use, increased number of sexual partners, more romantic relationships, prior victimization, and relationship insecurity. Female athletes, on the other hand, have in common such protective factors as higher self-esteem, higher assertiveness, lower alcohol use, and fewer sexual partners. These, then, are assumed to guard against sexual coercion. The purpose of this study was to determine if female athletes were at a lower risk for sexual coercion and whether differences existed in levels of assertiveness, sexual assertiveness, self-esteem, sexual esteem, alcohol use, and the number of sexual partners. Participants included 174 college females (aged 19.94 ± 1.87 years). Participants were identified as an athlete if they reported a history of at least three years of athl iation etic involvement and described themselves as either a high school athlete or having participated in competitive sports (n=125). From among all the participants, 49 were classified as non-athletes. Data demonstrated no differences in either forced or coerced sexual contact history. Athletes and nonathletes differed neither in global nor sexual self-esteem, nor did they differ in global or sexual assertiveness. There was a significant difference across the groups in alcohol use: athletes scored higher on the AUDIT than non-athletes. The number of years of sport involvement positively correlated with the level of alcohol use. Athletes and non-athletes reported similar numbers of sexual partners. The findings of this study imply that athletics may indirectly place females at risk for sexual coercion through an assocwith higher alcohol use.
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