Sexual revictimisation

Individual, interpersonal and contextual factors
ACSSA Research Summary No. 6 – May 2014


There are complex variables that contribute to sexual revictimisation, including individual, interpersonal and contextual factors. Sexual revictimisation can be defined in various ways, but for the purposes of this summary it will include any sexual abuse or assault subsequent to a first abuse or assault that is perpetrated by a different offender to the initial victimisation. Usually this will mean a child sexual abuse followed by an adolescent or adult sexual revictimisation, or an adolescent sexual abuse followed by an adult sexual revictimisation, by a different perpetrator. It can also be defined as multiple adult victimisation experiences by different perpetrators. It is important to attempt to work through how and why sexual revictimisation is so prevalent and what can be done to better identify risks associated with the perpetration of sexual revictimisation—one perpetrator offending multiple times, or offending against a person who has previously been victimised.

Most literature concerning sexual revictimisation iterates that those who are victims of child sexual abuse are two to three times more likely to be sexually revictimised in their lifetime (Classen, Palesh, & Aggarwal, 2005; Grauerholz, 2000; Heidt, Marx, & Gold, 2005; Noll & Grych, 2011; Ogloff, Cutuajar, Mann, & Mullen, 2012). However, there is very little literature available that brings together all the contextual factors related to sexual revictimisation. Data can be difficult to collate on minority or vulnerable groups who might best be described as falling through the gaps between services and justice mechanisms. This is particularly true of gay, lesbian and bisexual people, Indigenous people and people with a disability.

The interpersonal and contextual factors related to sexual revictimisation will be explored in this paper. The discussion begins with a look at what is known about the prevalence of sexual revictimisation and the associated risk factors, specifically for heterosexual populations, and then for the minority or vulnerable populations outlined above.