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Coercive Sexual Behaviour in British Prisons as Reported by Adult Ex-Prisoners

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This research has produced a detailed analysis of coercive sexual behaviour in British prisons as reported by victim, perpetrator, non-victim and non-perpetrator ex-prisoners. A total of 408 participants have contributed to this study. Their responses have been structured around the following hypotheses: (i) victims are reluctant to discuss and report incidents of sexual coercion (sexual exploitation, rape and sexual assault, including forced drug searches); therefore, sexual coercion remains under-reported within the prison system; (ii) different types of ‘discreet’, exploitative relationships exist, and these can include blackmail, violence and sex in exchange for goods; (iii) victims of sexual coercion involving sexual intimacy will predominate among: younger, passive, homosexual, inexperienced prisoners without group affiliations; (iv) victims of forced drug searches will predominate among: younger, passive, drug dependent, prisoners without group affiliations. Coercive sexual behaviour included forced drug searches and those who had been coerced for sexual intimacy. Approximately 1% had been sexually coerced involving sexual intimacy and 4% had been subjected to forced drug searches. Perpetrators for both groups consisted predominantly of prisoners, rather than staff. Victims reported a higher number of psychological problems following the initial incident compared to non-victims. Once targeted, victims found themselves open to repeated abuse by multiple perpetrators. Perpetrators actively employed various strategies to prevent victims from reporting the incident. Further research needs to be conducted on prison sexual coercion. This will help in the treatment of victims and the development of preventative measures.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Chartered Psychologist

Publication date: May 1, 2004


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