Document Type

Research Paper


In this study we were interested in examining he relationships between sexual and physical victimization, attachment style, interdependence and victim's attitudes towards themselves and their relationships. Students (158 women and 48 men, mean age= l 9 years) enrolled in introductory social science courses at a mid-western community college were given extra credit for their participation.

Of our sample, 21.6% reported that they engaged in a sexual act due to force or threat of force, and 24.5% reported that they had been physically assaulted in a way that they knew to be unacceptable. Sexually victimized participants reported that they were less likely to see their partners as dependable, to have faith in their partners, and to be satisfied in their relationships than non-victimized participants. Sexually victimized participants also reported more attempts to avoid conflict with their romantic partners than non-victimized participants. Participants who were physically victimized had lower self-esteem, were less likely to trust in others, and were less likely to be sexually assertive in a relationship than non-victimized participants.

Victimized participants showed a significantly different pattern of attachment styles than non-victimized participants. For victimized participants, the most common attachment style was fearful (42.9%) whereas only 24.8% of the non-victimized group reported a fearful attachment style. The most common attachment style for the non-victimized group was secure (43.4%) unlike the victimized group of whom only 37 .1 % identified themselves as secure. A dismissive attachment style was found for 8.6% of the victimized group and 17.8% of the non victimized group. A preoccupied style was found for 11.4% of the victimized group and 14% of the nonvictimized group.

Publication Date


Journal Title

Conference Proceedings: Undergraduate Social Science Research Conference





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©2002 by the University of Northern Iowa



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University of Northern Iowa


Cedar Falls, IA