Canadian Study Finds That “Resistance Training” for College Women Can Reduce the Risk of Sexual Assault

Charlene SennA new study led by Charlene Y. Senn, a psychologist at the University of Windsor in Canada, finds that training college women to recognize the signs of sexual aggression in men can lower their risk for sexual assault.

Researchers used a group of 900 first-year women at three Canadian universities. Half of the group were assigned to what was called the resistance group. These women participated in 12 hours of training over four sessions aimed at educating them to “more quickly acknowledge the danger in situations that have turned coercive and to explore ways to overcome emotional barriers to resisting the unwanted sexual behaviors of men who were known to them, and practice resisting verbal coercion.” The control group was just shown brochures about sexual assault.

The results showed that after one year, the women in the control group were nearly twice as likely as women in the resistance group to have been raped. Women in the control group were nearly three times as likely as women in the resistance groups to have been victims of attempted rape. The authors concluded that “because women cannot control men’s perpetration behavior, the reductions in the risks of attempted rape and coercion and unwanted sexual contact suggest that the resistance program may have increased women’s ability to detect and interrupt men’s behavior at an early stage.”

Clearly self-defense classes for women and “resistance training” for women do nothing to end the culture of sexual violence directed at women on college campuses. The authors concede that “effective interventions focusing on men’s behavior are also needed.”

The article, “Efficacy of a Sexual Assault Resistance Program for University Women,” was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. It may be downloaded by clicking here.

Filed Under: Research/Study

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