Lyda Hill symposium explores perspectives on sexual violence

Abby Aldinger 

[email protected]  

     The Lyda Hill Institute for Human Resilience hosted a virtual symposium on Sept. 25 for global perspectives on sexual violence, during which speakers shared their findings on the different effects that sexual assault can have on individuals across marginalized populations and communities. 

Alcohol abuse among female youth 

     Jillian Scheer was the first speaker to present in the symposium, and her study focused on the rising rate of alcohol abuse among female youth as a result of physical and sexual victimization. 

     Scheer said that “physical and sexual victimization among youth represents an urgent public health concern,” which led her to examine the correlation between alcohol abuse and sexual violence among female participants of varying sexual identities. 

     The results from Scheer’s study revealed there to be an alarmingly high rate of alcohol abuse among bisexual female youth in particular, who were found to report greater rates of alcohol misuse as a result of sexual victimization in comparison to heterosexual, gay and lesbian-identifying participants. 

Sexual violence between LGBTQ+ partners 

     The next speakers, Kayla Sall and Stephanie Lim, focused their study on the victimization and perpetration of sexual violence between intimate LGBTQ+ partners. 

     Sall and Lim used survey data in this study to identify the different ways in which minority stress, social support and hazardous drinking relate to the victimization and perpetration of sexual intimate partner violence among LGBTQ+ college students. 

     The results from Sall and Lim’s study revealed there to be a relatively high rate of minority stress and hazardous drinking among LGBTQ+ college students who have experienced sexual intimate partner violence victimization or perpetration, but not social support. 

     Sall and Lim said that their findings indicate a need for “[student] programs that seek to reduce proximal experiences of minority stress [and hazardous drinking].” 

Effects of sexual victimization on Arab American women  

     Jolin Yamin, the fourth speaker, focused their study on the mental and physical health of Arab American women following sexual victimization.  

     Yamin hypothesized that women within underrepresented groups that face sociocultural challenges will be affected by poor health after experiencing sexual violence due to gender and religion-related social constraints. These constraints worsen fears among Arab American women around “not being pure” or being at fault for their sexual victimization, according to Yamin. 

     The results from the study indicate a need for culturally responsive interventions that will “facilitate disclosure and emotional processing” following the sexual victimization of Arab American women. 

Effects of sociocultural influence on sexual violence 

     The fifth speaker, Terri Weaver, sought to uncover sociocultural influences on sexual violence through the use of a conceptual model that prioritizes research among ethnic minorities and global survivors in her study. 

     Weaver cited social norms, social structures and environmental stressors as three potentially-influential macro-system level factors that might add risk to sexual violence recovery. This led her to investigate the prevalence of these factors among survivors of sexual victimization around the globe. 

     Weaver said the results from her study revealed that these potentially-influential macro-system level factors increased the influence of sexual violence by “creating additional stress, reducing availability of [recovery] services and constraining reporting.” 

Frequency and effects of sexual assault 

     Emily Dworkin, the final speaker, focused her study on the overall global prevalence of sexual assault since 2010, examining the effects of sexual violence among all different types of communities and populations.  

     The results from Dworkin’s study revealed that global prevalence of sexual assault was highly estimated among college students.  

     “[This] might be due to the college environment but could also be due to the age range in which people typically attend college,” Dworkin said. 

     The “Global Perspectives on Sexual Violence” symposium and Q&A can be accessed here and also includes studies from two other speakers, Tiffany Marcantonio and Anna Segura, on sexual victimization. 

     The Lyda Hill Institute for Human Resilience will host a new seminar series next month to discuss the study of resilience through nonlinear dynamic analysis. 

     The first virtual seminar, “Boolean Networks in Nonlinear Dynamic Methods,” will be led by Bernard Ricca on Friday, Oct. 8. Students can RSVP for the event here