Population considerations:

  • Misconceptions. Women often experience optimism bias, which is the view that they are different from the “typical victim” and that they are less likely to encounter sexually aggressive situations. They also believe that if they do encounter sexually aggressive situations, they are more equipped to handle such situations (Gidyez, 2006).  Inaccurate beliefs can actually increase a woman’s vulnerability to sexual assault.
  • Poor communication with health care providers.Women who have been victims of sexual violence, specifically by an intimate partner, may have poor communication with their health care providers (Plichta, 2007). This increases underreporting and leads to inadequate treatment for many victims.

  Strategies to address these considerations:

  • Increase awareness. Interventions should strive to reduce optimism bias in women. To do so, women’s beliefs about the “typical victim” must be dispelled (Gidyez, 2006).
  • Improve screenings. Health care providers should learn how to use screening tools that will help detect women who have been victims of sexual violence even when it is not explicitly disclosed (Plichta, 2007).

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