Sexuality Education, Sexual Communication, Rape Myth Acceptance, and Sexual Assault Experience among Deaf and Hard of Hearing College Students
Francavillo, Gwendolyn Suzanne Roberts
Sawyer, Robin G
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Deaf and Hard of Hearing college students are at an increased risk of sexual assault in comparison to their hearing peers. Previous studies demonstrate that although sexual assault rates among college students are high, among the Deaf community, these rates are nearly double. Data suggest that between 50% and 83% of Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals will experience sexual assault in their lifetime, with Deaf and Hard of Hearing women more likely to experience sexual assault than Deaf and Hard of Hearing men. There exists only a small amount of published research regarding Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals and sexuality, and an even smaller amount of research has been conducted with Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals on the subject of sexual assault. The high sexual assault rates among Deaf and Hard of Hearing students may be partially attributed to their limited sexuality education and knowledge, most often as a result of communication, language, and cultural barriers. The purpose of this study was to 1) examine a possible relationship between levels of sexuality education, sexual communication, rape myth acceptance, and sexual assault experience, along with demographic variables, among Deaf and Hard of Hearing college students; and 2) examine differences between students previously educated in schools for the Deaf versus mainstream schools, with regard to their levels of sexuality education, sexual communication, rape myth acceptance, and sexual assault experience. The instrument was developed incorporating the Sexual Communication Survey (SCS), Rape Myth Acceptance Scale (RMAS), Sexual Experiences Survey (SES), sexuality education and sexual activity components. Two sets of hypotheses were examined via linear regression to ascertain significant relationships among the variables, with Social Cognitive Theory (SCT) constructs being used as the theoretical foundation of the study. Seven analyses were found to be statistically significant, with sexual communication, gender, and consensual sexual activity predictor variables explaining the outcome variable, sexual assault experience, at high percentages. The findings from this research have provided a greater baseline of data for future studies to investigate the factors influencing sexual assault among Deaf and Hard of Hearing college students.