Understanding perpetrators of nonphysical sexual coercion: Characteristics of those who cross the line

Sarah DeGue, David DiLillo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Scopus citations


Sexual coercion is defined here as a form of male sexual misconduct in which nonphysical tactics (e.g., verbal pressure) are utilized to gain sexual contact with an unwilling female partner. This study compares the risk characteristics of sexually coercive (n = 81) and nonoffending college males (n = 223) across several domains. Results revealed that sexual coercers differed from nonoffenders in that they more often subscribed to rape myths, viewed interpersonal violence as more acceptable, reported greater hostility toward females, and perceived male-female relationships as more inherently adversarial. In addition, compared to nonoffenders, sexually coercive males showed stronger indicators of promiscuity and delinquency, reported more psychopathic personality traits, had more empathic deficits, and were more likely to have experienced certain forms of childhood abuse. In most respects, coercers did not differ from those who reported engaging in more severe forms of sexual assault involving the use of physical force. These results suggest important differences between nonoffending males and those who "cross the line" by engaging in sexually coercive acts. In addition, consistent parallels can be drawn between the predictors of sexual coercion identified in this study and those documented in the sexual aggression (e.g., forcible rape) literature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)673-688
Number of pages16
JournalViolence and Victims
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Health(social science)
  • Law


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