This study examines some of the linkages between the rape victims' experience and community attitudes about rape, focusing on differences among three racial-ethnic groups. Public attitude data were collected from a stratified sample of 1,011 respondents; personal interviews were conducted with 335 Anglos, 336 Blacks and 340 Mexican Americans. Victim data were collected from in depth interviews with 61 female rape victims: 32 Anglos, 11 Blacks and 18 Mexican Americans. While the victim data suggest some degree of negative impact resulting from the rape experience for all victims, significant differences were found among the three racial-ethnic groups. Public attitude data suggest that public responses to rape are differentiated by certain age, sex and race-related categoric risks as well as certain attitudinal variations about sex roles. These findings are discussed in terms of how public attitudes may work to mitigate or exacerbate the negative effects of the rape experience for victims. Subsequently, an attempt is made to reconceptualize rape as an integrated composite of the public (extrinsic) and personal (intrinsic) experience of the victim.

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