Sexual violence and its associated psychosocial effects in Ireland

Frederique Vallieres, Brynne Gilmore, Ann Nolan, Peg Maguire, Kristina Bondjers, Orla McBride, Jamie Murphy, M Shevlin, Thanos Karatzias, Philip Hyland

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Abstract

Current data on the prevalence and psychosocial correlates of sexual violence in the Republic of Ireland is lacking, with the most recent sexual abuse and violence survey dating back to 2001. The current study sought to identify what proportion of Irish adults have experienced sexual violence, if there are sex differences in exposure to different forms of sexual violence, and to what extent different forms of sexual violence are associated with adverse psychosocial outcomes. To achieve these objectives, we carried out a nationally representative sample of Irish adults (N = 1,020) completed self-report measures of history of sexual violence and mental health. Results suggest that approximately one-in-three (34.4%) Irish adults experienced some form of sexual violence, including 14.8% who were sexually assaulted (raped) and 31.1% who were sexually harassed. Women were significantly more likely than men to have experienced all forms of sexual violence (ps <.001), with the exception of sexual assault by a parent or guardian. All forms of sexual violence were associated with an increased likelihood of serious mental health problems, with sexual assault by a parent/guardian associated with several other psychosocial outcomes in life, including education achievement, history of being taken into state care, salary, and employment status. Sexual violence is a common experience in the general population and women are disproportionately affected (1-in-2 women versus 1-in-5 men). Additional resources to increase mental health care among survivors of sexual violence is urgently needed. How our findings compare to Ireland’s previous sexual abuse and violence survey and the implications of our findings for policy are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Interpersonal Violence
Early online date15 Dec 2020
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Dec 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 SAGE Publications.

Copyright:
Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

Keywords

  • anything related to sexual assault
  • child abuse
  • mental health and violence
  • sexual abuse
  • sexual assault
  • sexual harassment

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