The many facets of shame in intimate partner sexual violence

The many facets of shame in intimate partner sexual violence

Liz Wall

ACSSA Research Summary No. 1 — January 2012
The many facets of shame in intimate partner sexual violence

Key messages

Shame in the context of intimate partner sexual violence is multi-faceted and impacts on victims in several ways.

There is specific emotional trauma and shame associated with intimate partner sexual violence that increases the liklihood victim survivors won't disclose or report the sexual violence, even when physical aspects of violence are reported.

Shame around intimate partner sexual violence can be considered to be a result of social constructs around gender behaviour and sexuality.

Perptrators of intimate partner sexual violence can use shame to their advantage to exploit the vulnerabilities it creates in their victims.

It is important that health professionals are aware of the damanging role that shame plays in intimate partner sexual violence in order to provide, supportive, compassionate responses to women who suffer because of it.

This paper summarises the research literature on the role and impact of shame for victims/survivors of intimate partner sexual violence.

International studies from 1999 onwards are reviewed, mainly concerning US and Australian research. Despite indications of a high prevalence rate of partner sexual violence, there seems to be more reluctance on the part of victim/survivors to report or discuss sexual violence compared to other types of sexual assaults. This paper explains the multi-faceted and destructive role played by shame, and the reluctance to disclose sexual violence, even when physical violence may be identified.

Authors and Acknowledgements

Liz Wall was a Research Officer at the Australian Centre for the Study of Sexual Assault.

Publication details

ACSSA Research Summary
No. 1
Published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, January 2012.
10 pp.
ISSN: 
2200-2308
ISBN: 
978-1-922038-82-4
Suggested citation:

Wall, L. (2012). The many facets of shame in intimate partner sexual violence (ACSSA Research Summary). Melbourne: Australian Centre for the Study of Sexual Assault, Australian Institute of Family Studies.

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