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Dusty JohnstoneWomen who use resistance strategies have a greater chance of escaping sexual assault, says Dusty Johnstone, UWindsor’s sexual misconduct response and prevention officer.

Resistance program to tackle sexual assault myths

UWindsor’s Office of Student Experience plans to flip the script this fall on how sexual assault is traditionally viewed, while proving women with multi-level training to reduce risk.

The office has dedicated $135,000 in funding to the Sexual Assault Resistance Education Program, or “Flip the Script,” which consists of four three-hour sessions providing information, skills, and practice in assessing risk from acquaintances; overcoming emotional barriers in acknowledging danger; and engaging in effective verbal and physical self-defence. As well, participants explore their own sexual values, desires, boundaries, and rights.

The program is based on 10 years of research by Charlene Senn, a psychology and women’s and gender studies professor and her team. The researchers used empirical evidence and best practices to develop the program, which helps women interrupt men’s behaviour at an early stage and defend themselves effectively, if necessary.

“Growing up, girls are often taught to believe that they are responsible for preventing an assault and to fear stranger assault. They learn to monitor where they go and what they wear and that if they are assaulted their behaviour has played a contributing factor. They have been taught to believe that they aren’t strong enough to fight back,” says Dusty Johnstone, UWindsor’s sexual misconduct response and prevention officer.

“Research has shown that these are beliefs are myths. We know that women are most commonly assaulted by men they know rather than strangers, and that women who fight back and use resistance strategies have a greater chance of escape. We believe that the traditional stereotypes that girls and women are socialized to believe are harmful, so we want to flip the script.”

Dr. Johnstone says the program is available free of charge to all women registered at the University of Windsor and will be offered in small groups beginning in October. For more information visit: http://www.uwindsor.ca/sexual-assault/FlipTheScript.