Welcome to Pocket Science: a glimpse at recent research from Husker scientists and engineers. For those who want to quickly learn the “What,” “So what” and “Now what” of Husker research.
Sexual assault has been studied for decades. Previous research has demonstrated that the risk of being a victim of sexual assault is much higher on college campuses and that women are most likely to be victims, but is it that simple?
No, says Husker researcher Colleen Ray, a graduate student in sociology, because society is comprised of more than just heterosexual males and heterosexual females. She recently authored a study in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence that looked at risks of sexual assault among heterosexuals, as well as sexual minority men and women.
The study surveyed 1,413 college students at two universities, and found that while heterosexual females are at a higher risk for victimization, sexual minority males and females face elevated risk, too.
“The main takeaway is that by focusing on males versus females, we’re missing this group of people being victimized,” Ray said. “We need to think about changing the language that we use when talking about sexual assault.”
Focusing solely on heterosexual females as victims may add unnecessary difficulties for sexual minorities and men to report sexual assault, Ray said.