Adolescent Girls’ Experiences With Sexual
Pressure, Coercion, and Victimization:
Dianne Morrison-Beedy, PhD, RN, WHNP-BC, FNAP, FAANP, FAAN •
Linsey Grove, MPH, CPH, CHES
Background: The #MeToo social media campaign in the United States has highlighted what is
a pervasive problem in many cultures—the sexual intimidation and victimization of women by
men, especially those in roles of authority.
Methods: In a study of 735 girls, ages 15–19 years, enrolled in a sexual risk reduction random-
ized controlled trial, we captured baseline data using audio-computer assisted self-interviews to
increase validity and reliability of responses to questions regarding such behaviors.
Results: Despite their age, one-half of these girls reported being coerced into sex acts (excluding
intercourse) with 1 in 5 reporting such victimization by a man who used his position of authority.
Alarmingly, 12–28% of girls reported being forced into penetrative sex acts against their will. Far
too many girls reported they had had multiple episodes of such violence.
Linking Evidence to Action: It is clear that this study captures a common, but minimally doc-
umented, threat faced by adolescent girls ranging from men pressuring them to engage in sex
activities through the use of victimization, intimidation, or provision of substances to underage
girls to gain compliance. Using such evidence to enhance and tailor sexual risk reduction, health,
safety, and communication interventions for both males and females is essential. Identifying trig-
gers to at-risk situations, providing skill building in communication, negotiation and refusal skills,
as well as clearly discussing consent issues among both genders are important components in
evidence-based interventions if we are to impact positively the next generation to curtail sexual
pressure, coercion, and violence.
The sexual harassment and coercion of women has been a
part of the female experience across time; however, its place in
modern society has become a dominant part of current national
dialogue. The #MeToo social media movement in the United
States has brought this issue into the spotlight, becoming Time
magazine’s Person of the Year for 2017 as the “Silence Break-
ers” (Zacharek, Dockterman, & Sweetland Edwards, 2017). The
extensive media coverage and viral social media use have am-
pliﬁed the conversation about the prevalence of sexual violence
as well as the need for effective measures and consequences for
the perpetrators. While this national phenomenon has mostly
focused on adult women across professions, age, and social sta-
tus, sexual coercion and victimization can begin in childhood
and continue into adolescence.
Globally, 30% of women are estimated to experience inti-
mate partner violence at some point in their lifetime (Fanslow,
2017). In the United States, the U.S. Department of Justice
(2006) estimates that a quarter to half of all women have been
victims of sexual violence at some point in their life, most
likely in their adolescence. When victimization starts early
in life, it can exacerbate adverse mental health and physical
health outcomes in adulthood (Trickett, Noll, & Putnam, 2011).
An estimated 20% of women that experience childhood sexual
abuse and assault develop post-traumatic stress disorder
(World Health Organization, 2017), leading to increased risk
for sexually transmitted infections and other adverse mental
health outcomes (Ashby & Kaul, 2016; Baker & Sommers,
2008; Campbell, Dworkin, & Cabral, 2009). Adult and
adolescent women who experience sexual assault and coercion
are more likely to experience coercive risk behaviors at the
hands of their partners including alcohol and substance abuse
(Lorenz & Ullman, 2016), unprotected sex, and pressuring or
forcing female partners not to use contraception (McCauley
et al., 2014). Adolescent females who experience partner vio-
lence or sexual abuse are more likely to engage in risky sexual
behaviors as teens and later on in life (Senn, Carey, Vanable,
Coury-Doniger, & Urban, 2007; Seth, Raiford, Robinson,
Worldviews on Evidence-Based Nursing, 2018; 15:3, 225–229.
2018 Sigma Theta Tau International