Conclusion

This chapter highlights several lingering issues in research on rape and other forms of sexual assault in intimate relationships. A need remains for more research and more consistency in methods, definitions, and procedures in determining the number of survivors who have experienced sexual violence from a partner. It is critical that attention be paid not only to heterosexual females in this determination, but a particular focus is necessary for subgroups such as gay and lesbian couples, men who are survivors, racial/ ethnic minorities, and persons from varying socioeconomic backgrounds and geographically diverse areas. Additionally, further efforts are necessary for continued development of theoretical and conceptual models on sexual violence that is inclusive of the many factors that can impact this trauma.

A critical component of combating sexual violence is changing societal views on this issue. A collective effort from researchers, practitioners, and the general public will be required to effectively implement broader community-level strategies that address norms that perpetuate acceptance of sexual violence within intimate relationships, particularly with long-term or married couples. These efforts will be most impactful with continued focus on changing policy and statutes that do not apply equal consequences for nonintimate and intimate sexual violence. Only with such changes will we be able to effectively provide resources for survivors (psychological, physical, and legal) that provide support and not revictimization when help seeking occurs and eventually eliminate the need for such resources.

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