333 Sexual Assault Prevention

Research by Senn, Charlene. Y., Eliasziw, Misha., Barata, Paula. C., Thurston, Wilfreda. E., Newby-Clark, Ian. R., Radtke, Lorraine., & Hobden, Karen. L. (2015).

Written by Bethany Wellman, M.S.

Female college students are at significant risk for being sexually assaulted. How can women reduce their risk?

Over 900 first-year female students at three Canadian universities completed one of two groups. In the Assess, Acknowledge, Act sexual assault resistance group, the participants were taught and practiced skills to recognize danger and engage in effective verbal and physical self-defense. There were four classes of 3 hours. The second group consisted of the common university practice of one group session on sexual assault education with brochures and university policy discussion.

At one-year follow-up, all participants completed a survey regarding sexual victimization. The 1-year risk of completed rape was significantly lower in the resistance group (5%) than in the education and policy group (10%), meaning a 46% relative risk reduction. Also, their attempted rape was significantly lower (3% vs. 9%).

A rigorous sexual assault resistance program was successful in decreasing the occurrence of college female sexual victimization, suggesting the importance of a more extensive course in preparing them mentally and physically to defend themselves and recognize dangerous situations. Let’s stop rape and sexual assault! In all schools implement a thorough sexual assault prevention course with knowledge, skills, and practice.


Senn, C. Y., Eliasziw, M., Barata, P. C., Thurston, W. E., Newby-Clark, I. R., Radtke, L., & Hobden, K. L. (2015). Efficacy of a Sexual Assault Resistance Program for University Women. The New England Journal of Medicine372, 2326-2335.

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