2012-2013 MARTIN WESLEY SERIES
Department of Psychology, Women's Studies
Sexual violence is much more prevalent than the average person thinks it is and is most likely to be committed against women by men they know. The rates of sexual assault in Windsor as a city and the University of Windsor as a campus are no better or worse than other Canadian or American cities of similar size; between 18 and 24 % of women on campus will be sexually assaulted before they graduate. At least 30 years of research has helped us to understand the impact of the experience on women, the social environments that support men’s perpetration of sexual violence, and the male attitudes and behaviour that are related to higher risk of perpetration. Past research has also identified the many barriers for women in recognizing danger signs in social situations from men they know and to their successful defense against sexual violence. A cognitive ecological model of this process permits better understanding and identification of areas where intervention may be fruitful. This presentation brings together a series of research studies conducted over the past seven years to develop an effective intervention for women that strengthens their ability to defend themselves against sexual violence by men they know (and those they do not). Research on a newer parallel initiative conducted with colleagues is also presented. These studies explore the possibilities of educating male and female students to interrupt the wider social norms that support sexual assault as well as intervene in behaviour they witness that is known to increase the risk of sexual violence.
Reception to follow