In recent history there has been considerable attention focused on issues of childhood sexual abuse and adult sexual victimization. This may in part be due to the efforts to address related issues of sexually transmitted infections, HIV/AIDS, commercial sexual exploitation of women, and child! human trafficking. Issue of this nature have at one level increased the need for a clearer understanding of sexual activities and behaviours particularly as it relates to individuals that may be in a vulnerable position. The new understanding that has emerged has played a central role in dispelling previously held beliefs that the sexually abused victims were to blame for their experience (Messam & Long, 1996). This shift from previously held beliefs along with the interest raised in regards to these issues has made it easier for people to disclose their own victimization. With this also is the desire to unearth the extent and nature of victimization in varied populations.
Many of the studies seeking to establish the prevalence of sexual victimization often adopt cross-sectional retrospective methods where respondents are required to report from memory any history of sexual victimization. The validity of self-reporting of sexual victimization has been drawn into question as people have been known to under-report their own experience (Fergusson, Horwood, & Woodward, 2000; Widom & Morris, 1997). It is thought that factors such as individuals responding in what is considered socially appropriate, unwillingness to disclose information, misinterpretation of the questions or sheer errors in their ability to recall the incident, could lead to this under reporting of incidents. Rohsenov, Corbett, and Devine,(l988) report that asking the question more than once aids disclosure of difficult material of this nature. In a more recent work
which improves on methods used in previous research, Barnes, Noll, Putnam, and Trickett. (2009) present evidence contrary to this, they found that individuals can accurately report retrospectively substantiated sexual victimization ISV), and at this with remarkably high test re-test assessment over a two year period. Whether this is a result of the changing culture in recent times or purely as a result of the method adopted may however be in question.