College Students Who Study Abroad Found to Be at Greater Risk of Sexual Assault

Middlebury_sealA study led by Matthew Kimble, a psychologist at Middlebury College in Vermont, finds that studying abroad greatly increases a woman’s chances of being sexually assaulted during their college years. Kimble surveyed a large group of women students on their experiences with nonconsensual touching, attempted assault, and rape.

His results showed that women who had studied abroad were four times as likely as women who had not studied abroad to have been victims of unwanted sexual contact. Women who studied abroad were found to be three times as likely to be victims of an attempted sexual assault and five times as likely to have been raped. The study found that the vast majority of the offenders were not other college students but local citizens of the country where the American women were studying abroad.

Kimble states that cultural differences, weak social networks, and easier access to alcohol may be contributing factors. He also cautions that unfamiliarity with support services in foreign countries may result in less women seeking help when they do experience unwanted sexual contact.

The research was published on the website of the journal Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy. The article may be accessed here.

Filed Under: Research/Study


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