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Few studies have examined how attachment insecurity (i.e., attachment anxiety, attachment avoidance) is associated with the more subtle and less severe forms of sexual coercion, such as verbal threats and partner manipulation. This is despite the fact that past research has indicated some of the relationship behaviors exhibited by insecurely attached individuals represent behaviors indicative of either the perpetration or victimization of less severe forms of sexual coercion. The aim of this study was to conduct a systematic review on the association between attachment style and less severe forms of sexual coercion. Our search, which included published journal papers, book chapters, and theses published between January 1970 and October 2014, yielded 1091 records. Examination of these records against exclusion criteria yielded 11 studies that focused on the associations between attachment orientation and perpetration of sexual coercion (n = 3), sexual coercion victimization (n = 3), or both perpetration and victimization (n = 5). Findings revealed that attachment anxiety appeared to be more consistently associated with being the victim of sexual coercion than attachment avoidance. In terms of perpetration, attachment avoidance was more consistently associated with sexual coercion. These findings were observed when examining the association between attachment dimensions and motives for sexual coercion. The findings also revealed gender to be a moderator for victimization. This review provides insights into how attachment style may influence the perpetration and victimization of sexual coercion.


Institute for Health and Ageing

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Journal Article

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