Incapacitated sexual assault among youths: beyond the perpetrator tactics framework
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionStefansen, Frøyland, Øverlien. Incapacitated sexual assault among youths: beyond the perpetrator tactics framework. Journal of Youth Studies. 2020 https://doi.org/10.1080/13676261.2020.1844172
The issue of incapacitated sexual assault (ISA) among youths has received increased attention among researchers. Still our understanding of the phenomenon is so far limited. Most research to date departs from an underlying “perpetrator tactics” framework in which ISA is understood as acts of deliberate exploitation of vulnerable victims. Our analysis suggests that this framework represents an overly narrow understanding of how ISA happens among youths. Based on analyses of short written descriptions of ISA experiences from a nationally representative survey among 18- and 19-year-olds in Norway, we propose that ISA unfolds through two distinctly different interactional dynamics; either stemming from tumultuous and confusing sexual interactions that defy a clear allocation of culpability or from an assailant’s more or less deliberate tactics. Girls are more at risk and experience both types of ISA assaults, while boys mostly experience tumultuous “drunk sex” situations and more often redefine the situation in a way that masks their victimhood. The separation of the two situational dynamics furthers the understanding of in how ISA unfolds and of gendered vulnerabilities for sexual violence linked to youth drinking.