Psychological insecurities within dating and relationships

The presence of sexual violence may also interact with physical abuse to undermine well-being (Bennice, Resick, Mechanic, & Astin, 2003).

Much of the research in this respect has focused on the effects of date rape (Kuffel & Katz, 2002).

Such changes may be most evident during times of upheaval and instability.

Thus, an intimate relationship characterized by abuse and a lack of mutual respect might be expected to impact women's sexual self-perceptions negatively.The research on women's sexual self-perceptions is sparse, and studies of sexual self-perceptions in relation to experiences of abuse are even fewer.Most notable is the work of Andersen and Cyranowski (1994), who focused on women's cognitive representations of the sexual aspects of the self.For example, Apt and Hurlbert (1993) noted that women who were experiencing abuse in their marriages expressed higher levels of sexual dissatisfaction, more negative attitudes toward sex, and a stronger tendency to avoid sex than did women who were not experiencing abuse.The psychological sequelae of abuse (e.g., depression) may further reduce a woman's sexual desire, and hence her sense of herself as a sexual being.Of particular interest were women's self-perceptions over the course of their first year at university.This study was designed to examine the following hypotheses: 1.Currently, there is lack of understanding of how different experiences of abuse (i.e., physical, psychological, and sexual) within dating relationships impact young women's sense of self, including the development of sexual self-perceptions.However, some understanding of the potential impacts might be gleaned from research conducted to assess the sexual perceptions of women in abusive marital relationships.Given that one of the most frequently identified buffers against the impacts of stressful events is a secure social support system (Cohen, Gottlieb, & Underwood, 2000), young women who undergo transitional life events in the context of an abusive intimate relationship may be particularly vulnerable to feelings of relationship insecurity and negative self-perceptions. (1999) noted that these negative feelings dissipated over time, to the extent that women's abusive relationships continue, their negative sexual self-perceptions may continue to be evident.The purpose of this study was to assess the relations between experiences of abuse in dating relationships and young women's sexual self-perceptions.

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