Study Finds That an Assertiveness Training Program for Teenage Girls May Reduce Sexual Assaults

simpsonRoweA new study led by Lorelei Simpson Rowe, an associate professor of psychology at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, finds that teenage girls who took a virtual reality assertiveness training program were less likely to become victims of sexual assault.

The training program, called “My Voice, My Choice,” was developed by the study’s co-authors Ernest N. Jouriles and Renee McDonald, both clinical psychologists at SMU. The training program emphasizes that victims do not invite sexual violence and that they have the right to stand up for themselves because violent or coercive behavior is never appropriate.

Dr. Rowe explained that “the virtual simulations allowed girls to practice being assertive in a realistic environment. The intent of the program is for the learning opportunity to increase the likelihood that they will use the skills in real life. Research has shown that skills are more likely to generalize if they are practiced in a realistic environment, so we used virtual reality to increase the realism.”

Dr. Rowe has been on the faculty at SMU since 2006. She is a graduate of Michigan State University and holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles.

The research, “Reducing Sexual Victimization Among Adolescent Girls: A Randomized Controlled Pilot Trial of My Voice, My Choice,” was published in the journal Behavior Therapy. It may be accessed here.

Filed Under: Research/StudySexual Assault/Harassment


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