Forcible rape and adolescent friendship networks


Tomlinson, Tiffaney A.; Mears, Daniel P.; Turanovic, Jillian J.; & Stewart, Eric A. (2018). Forcible rape and adolescent friendship networks. Journal of Interpersonal Violence.


Studies have found that sexual victimization can adversely affect an adolescents psychological well-being, physical health, and behavior. Little is known, however, about how friendships are influenced by such victimization. Drawing on research on sexual violence and the salience of peers among adolescents, the current study extends prior work by examining the effects of forcible rape on adolescent social networks. Using a subsample of females from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (N = 4,386), the study employs multivariate regression analyses to estimate the effects of youth forcible rape on the popularity, centrality, and density of adolescent friendship networks and to determine whether depression and attachment to others (e.g., to friends and to school) mediate these effects. The analyses indicated that forcible rape was associated with a decrease in the popularity and centrality of females within their friendship networks; however, no effect on the density of these networks was identified. In addition, forcible rape effects on popularity and centrality were partially mediated by depression and social attachments. The results suggest that forcible rape may adversely affect adolescent females levels of popularity and centrality within their friendship networks. Combined with prior research, the results indicate that the harmful effects of rape have the potential to extend across diverse domains, including social relationships. This possibility suggests that services and assistance to female adolescents may be useful in navigating these relationships after victimization. It suggests, too, that potential benefits that may arise from interventions that educate adolescents?victims and nonvictims alike about the challenges that victims of sexual violence experience.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Journal Title

Journal of Interpersonal Violence


Tomlinson, Tiffaney A.
Mears, Daniel P.
Turanovic, Jillian J.
Stewart, Eric A.

Year Published



July 20, 2018



Reference ID