Experiences and Psychopathological Manifestations among Victims of Sexual Objectification

Published: 16 March 2023| Version 1 | DOI: 10.17632/bbknsy68wh.1
Sejal Jain,


Sexual Objectification (SO) refers to the act of viewing an individual’s body as a mean of satisfying sexual desire. In 2018, the #MeToo Movement empowered Indian women to speak up about their experiences of sexual harassment. Such traumatic experiences have shown to be positively correlated with mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders, stress disorders and trauma related disorders. The present study aims to explore the experiences and psychopathological manifestations among the female victims of sexual objectification in India. The Interpersonal Sexual Objectification Scale (ISOS) was used as a screening tool and a semi-structured interview was conducted on the ten chosen female, Indian subjects, ranging from 18 to 25 years of age. This was followed by a thematic analysis by Braun and Clarke. The results showed that SO experiences lead to depressive and anxiety symptoms, suicidal ideations, social withdrawal, fear from the male gender, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), paranoid feelings, dissociation, sexual and intimacy issues along with multiple emotional, psychological and physiological changes. It was also seen that the victims blamed various factors for such experiences including their clothes and people’s mindset and used various help seeking behaviours and coping mechanisms to deal with their mental health issues. Thus, SO experiences can have long term psychopathological effects. The current data includes the ISOS, the consent form and the colour coding and themes of the data analysis. Since, the research takes into account a very sensitive topic - sexual objectification, the responses, audio recordings of the interview as well as the transcripts cannot be shared (as mentioned in the consent form signed by the subjects). The codes and themes show the mental health issues faced by the subject after they became the victims of various experiences of sexual harassment, abuse, rape, etc. The Interview Schedule used has been added in the research manuscript itself. The themes have also been explained in detail with verbatim in the manuscript.


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The objective of the study is to explore the experiences and psychopathological manifestations among the female victims of sexual objectification. The constructivist research paradigm of the qualitative research has been used along with an exploratory research design. A screening tool – Interpersonal Sexual Objectification Scale (ISOS) given by Denchik (2005) in Ohio State University, has been used on the female population of India to identify the sexual objectification victims. Since the #MeToo movement was largely dominated by women, only female subjects were chosen to avoid gender disbalance. The age group taken is 18 to 25 years of age. The sample has been derived through a purposive or judgement sampling method. The data about sexual objectification (SO) experiences have been collected through a Google form of ISOS. Those individuals who have been victims of SO were then interviewed through a semi-structured interview to understand their psychopathological manifestations, if any. The data was collected till the research reached the point of theoretical saturation. Thematic Analysis method of Braun and Clarke (2006) was used on the date obtained through the interviews to determine common themes of experiences women of India go through in the cases of sexual objectification. This was done through colour coding. The method of peer review and member checking (subject review) was used to check the credibility and dependability of the research. Any ethical violation was prevented by providing a detailed informed consent before the screening procedure as well as the interview. The right to withdraw from the research was explained well to the participants and IRB (Institutional Review Board) approval was taken from the ethical committee of university before collecting the data.


Psychology, Clinical Psychology, Mental Health, Sexual Abuse, Sexual Harassment