Consensual Aggression and Violence During Sex (‘rough sex’) in the General Population – A Scoping (Literature) Review

Bernard Gallagher, Nadia Wager, Victoria Gall, Barbara Gilroy, Lara Hudspith, Manisha Singh, Joseph Sykes, Vicky Whitaker

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Rough sex - or what is referred to in this chapter as ‘consensual aggression and violence during sex’ (CAVS) - has been the focus, in the United Kingdom and internationally, of some attention and also concern. The latter derives especially from criminal justice proceedings relating to incidents where male suspects have seriously or fatally injured another individual, usually female, and then made claims - that are widely believed to be false - that the incident was a ‘sex game gone wrong’. Despite the importance of this subject, there is little or no understanding of the state of knowledge surrounding CAVS. This chapter outlines results from what is believed to be the first scoping (literature) review of CAVS in the general population. The review was based largely on a search, during June and July 2021, of 15 major databases using 18 search terms, which was conducted in accordance with the JBI Manual for Evidence Synthesis. A total of 74 sources were identified. The research reviewed covered a quite large number and diverse range of areas in respect of CAVS, comprising: conceptualization; attitudes; extent; context, dynamics and nature; explanations; CAVS-related pornography; effects; alleged CAVS; policy and practice responses; methodological weaknesses; and future research needs. Overall, the review highlights two distinct perspectives on CAVS: in the first, individuals chose to take part in CAVS, which they like and enjoy; in the second, individuals, especially women and girls, have experiences of CAVS that are non-consensual or unwanted, and which they find upsetting, frightening or scary.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication‘Rough Sex’ and the Criminal Law
Subtitle of host publication: Global Perspectives
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-80117-928-7
ISBN (Print)978-1-80117-929-4
Publication statusPublished - 7 Nov 2022


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