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Women’s Risk Perception and Responses to Intimate Partner Sexual Coercion: The Role of Type of Tactic, Previous Experience, and Myths Acceptance

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 June 2022

Marta Garrido-Macías*
Universitat d’ Alacant (Spain)
Inmaculada Valor-Segura
Universidad de Granada (Spain)
Francisca Expósito
Universidad de Granada (Spain)
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Marta Garrido-Macías. Universitat d’ Alacant. Departament de Comunicació i Psicologia Social. Carretera de Sant Vicent del Raspeig s/n, Edifici de Ciéncies Socials. 03690 Sant Vicent del Raspeig, Alacant (Spain). Email:


Sexual coercion is among the subtlest forms of sexual violence in an intimate relationship and sometimes goes unnoticed by victims. The present study analyzed factors that potentially mitigate women’s negative perceptions of intimate partner sexual coercion (IPSC). A total of 427 women completed an online survey, in which they were shown vignettes illustrating a growing risk of sexual coercion according to the perpetrators’ use of different coercive tactics. Participants replied to questions that reflected their risk perception, their perceptions of perpetrator behavior, and the probability of their leaving the relationship. The survey also queried their previous IPSC experience, and their degree of acceptance of sexual aggression myths. According to the results, women exposed to positive (vs. negative) verbal sexual coercion (VSC) condition decided to leave the abusive situation later (risk response), presented a longer time lag between the moment they recognized the risk and the moment they responded to it, perceived the perpetrator’s behavior as more acceptable and excusable, and were less likely to leave the relationship. Finally, greater myth acceptance and previous IPSC experience predicted a lower probability of leaving the relationship, due to delayed risk responses and to perceiving the perpetrator’s behavior as more acceptable and excusable. This was true regardless of the type of coercive tactic used by the perpetrator. The results highlight the need to consider the type of coercive tactic, previous experience, and myths acceptance as risk factors that may impede a woman to adequately perceive and respond to an intimate partner’s sexual violence.

Research Article
© Universidad Complutense de Madrid and Colegio Oficial de Psicólogos de Madrid 2022

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Funding Statement: This work was supported by a grant from the Ministerio de Educación y Formación Profesional - Gobierno de España to the first author (Ref. FPU14–02905), and the financing provided by the Ministerio de Asuntos Económicos y Transformación Digital – Gobierno de España (Ref. PSI2017–84703–R; Ref. PID2020–114464RB–I00 [MINECO/AEI/FEDER/UE]).

Conflict of Interest: None.


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