The many facets of shame in intimate partner sexual violence

ACSSA Research Summary No. 1 – January 2012


This research summary focuses on literature dealing with intimate partner sexual violence as a discrete form of intimate partner violence. Literature considering shame in a post-trauma context was also reviewed. The review was restricted to studies published since 1999 and was mainly US and Australian work, because much of the prominent research in this area is US based, while the Australian studies give important local context. Although this timeframe excludes some important early work on the prevalence of intimate partner sexual violence1 these works are still referred to throughout the more recent literature as a source of information about prevalence rates and attitudes to marital rape in the US.

The literature explored for this topic comes from a number of disciplines, including sociology, psychology and medicine in order to gain various professional perspectives on the impact of intimate partner sexual violence and shame. Key authors who have specialised in the study of intimate partner sexual violence and marital rape were searched. Academic journals with a focus on family violence and interpersonal violence were sourced extensively in acknowledgement of the environment in which intimate partner sexual violence occurs.


1 For example, Finkelhor and Yllö (1985) who studied 326 mothers in Boston, found wife rape was the most common form of rape experienced. Diana Russell (1990) surveyed 644 San Franciscan women who had been married at least once, and she also found marital rape the most common type.