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Research Measures Reaction to Rape

March 07, 1985|Associated Press

NEW YORK — When asked about hypothetical cases of robbery or rape, men do not blame the victims any more than women, according to research reported in Psychology Today.

Judi Lawson and W.A. Hillix wrote that "even more surprising, both men and women identified more with the rape victim than with the robbery victim and assigned more responsibility for the crime to the robbery victim than to the rape victim."

Responsibility was thought to lie with a victim who "flaunted" money or sexuality.

The researchers said they expected men to attribute more responsibility for the crime to rape victims than women. But in the survey of 219 people, aged 17 to 70, "the expected differences did not appear," they reported.

Another study found that women suffered more serious mental problems in cases of attempted sexual molestation and attempted robbery than in cases where rape or robbery actually was committed, the magazine says.

Dean Kilpatrick, a University of South Carolina clinical psychologist, studied victims of attempts and found that the comparatively high rate of mental distress is explained by their imaginations.

Kilpatrick's conclusion: when a threatening situation is left unresolved, victims are never sure what their assailants intended to do or how much danger they actually were in.

"For rape victims," Kilpatrick explains, "their worst fears have been realized. But victims of other attacks that were not completed do not know what they escaped."

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