Laura Hawks, an internist and Harvard Medical School researcher.
In the years after coerced or forced sex, affected women had more sex partners, unwanted pregnancies and abortions, and more reproductive health problems including pelvic pain and menstrual irregularities than women whose first sexual experience wasn’t forced.
“Experiencing rape at first sexual encounter is an extreme loss of autonomy over one’s sexuality,” Hawks said. She said it’s not surprising that it might lead to later mental and physical health problems, given other studies on lasting effects of trauma.
The results were published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine.
Other studies have found that long-term effects of sexual assault may include social isolation, feelings of powerlessness, stigmatization, poor self-image and risky behavior, which all may increase risks for depression and other mental health problems, a journal editorial said.
The researchers focused on a survey question that asked during in-person interviews if women‘s first vaginal intercourse experience with a man “was voluntary or not voluntary, that is, did you did you choose to have sex of your own free will or not?”
Men were not included in the study.
” The onus should not be on the victims, she said.
“The ‘Me, Too’ movement is a promising sign that we’re more willing as a society” to address sexual violence she said.
The journal editorial notes that the study lacks information on women‘s health and any abuse before their first sexual encounter. There also is no data on any later sexual violence — which all might contribute to health problems, the editorial said.
“Such research is needed to understand and address the full range and consequences of these experiences,” the editorial said.
S. schools contributes to the problem.
“Our culture teaches people not to be raped instead of teaching people not to rape,” he said.
Consent isn’t always on the agenda and boys often aren’t taught how to express their emotions in healthy ways, said Rice, interim executive director at Answer, a Rutgers University group that provides sex education training for teachers and oversees Sex, Etc., a teen-run sex education magazine and website.
“Almost everyone has a story or a close call like this one or knows someone with a story or close call,” said Baum, a sophomore at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York.
Baum recalls that a police officer invited to discuss sexual consent and assault at her high school focused only on girls, telling them, “‘You’ve got to make sure you say no and say it loud enough for people to hear.
“If I go on a date with another girl, I also have to make sure there is clear consent and clear boundaries,” she said.
“It goes both ways.”
Follow AP Medical Writer Lindsey Tanner at @LindseyTanner.