Sexual Coercion and Psychological Aggression Victimization: Unique Constructs and Predictors of Depression
Sexual coercion of women is a common problem in couples that is often conceptualized as a facet of sexual assault or as a form of psychological aggression. Because psychological aggression is consistently linked to depressive symptoms, the researchers evaluated the unique contribution of sexual coercion victimization in the prediction of depressive symptoms beyond the variance explained by psychological aggression victimization. Sample 1 consisted of women living with a partner for at least a year and parenting a young child, whereas Sample 2 consisted of undergraduate students in relationships of at least 6 months. Overall, 27.4% of the women in Sample 1 and 22.8% of the women in Sample 2 reported experiencing sexual coercion victimization. Across both samples, depressive symptoms and psychological aggression victimization were significantly greater in women who experienced sexual coercion victimization. In addition, sexual coercion victimization and psychological aggression victimization each contributed significantly and uniquely to the prediction of depressive symptoms. Thus, although related to psychological aggression victimization, sexual coercion in an intimate relationship is a distinct construct. Implications for assessment, prevention, and couple therapy are discussed.