Academic journal article College Student Journal

Evaluating a Peer-Led, Theatrical Sexual Assault Prevention Program: How Do We Measure Success?

Academic journal article College Student Journal

Evaluating a Peer-Led, Theatrical Sexual Assault Prevention Program: How Do We Measure Success?

Article excerpt

This study investigated the effects of a co-educational, theatrical, peer-facilitated sexual assault prevention program at a large mid-western university. Additionally, the study compared results based on two different measurement tools (the Rape Myth Acceptance Scale (RMAS) and the Sexual Beliefs Scale (SBS)). Methods: Pre-test post-test experimental design was used. Results: Pre- and post- intervention scores were not significantly different on the RMAS, while there were significant differences on three of the five SBS subscales. Participants were less likely to believe women enjoy force and women engage in token refusals to sex after the intervention. However, participants were slightly but significantly less likely to agree "no means stop" post-intervention. Males were more likely than females to endorse rape-supportive values as measured by the RMAS and four of the SBS subscales. Conclusions: The results of this study highlight the need for sexual assault prevention programming that accurately reflects the ambiguity of sexual situations while reinforcing that sexual assault is unequivocally wrong.

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Rape is a prevalent problem in American culture today (Sochting, Fairbrother, & Koch, 2004). Defined as a nonconsensual event involving threat or use of force to penetrate the victim's anus or vagina (United States Department of Justice, 2000), it is estimated that between one in three and one in six women will experience rape or an attempted rape in their lifetimes (Mahoney, Shively & Traw, 1986; Muehlenhard & Linton, 1987; Szymanski, Devlin, Chrisler & Vyse, 1993, United States Department of Justice, 2000). Data from the National Health and Social Life Survey (Michael, Gagnon, Laumann, & Kolata, 1994) indicate that one in five women has been forced to do something sexual at some time in their life. The United States Department of Justice reported that 266,770 rapes and sexual assaults occurred in the United States in the year 2000 (United States Department of Justice, 2002).

Although many individuals believe that rape is most commonly committed by a stranger, it is far more likely that the perpetrator will be an acquaintance (United States Department of Justice, 2000). Estimates of the percentage of rapes committed by an acquaintance range from 50% to 99%, with many of those being committed by a boyfriend or date (Bridges, 1991; Kopper, 1996; United States Department of Justice, 2000). It is difficult to accurately estimate the number of acquaintance rapes that take place because the crime is rarely reported to authorities (Szymanski et al., 1993). In fact, Koss (1985) found that only 5 % of victims reported the attack to the police. These statistics imply that many victims of acquaintance rape are not receiving support and counseling while many perpetrators are not being prosecuted for their crimes.

Unfortunately, college women seem to be particularly vulnerable to acquaintance rape (Choate, 2003). In fact, several national surveys (e.g., Koss, Gidycz & Wisniewski, 1987, Koss & Oros, 1982) and numerous single campus studies (e.g., Aizenman & Kelley, 1988; Douglas et al., 1997; Miller & Marshall, 1987; Muehlenhard & Linton, 1987; Smith, White, & Holland, 2003) have reported alarming rates of acquaintance rape among college student populations. Gidycz, Coble, Latham and Layman (1993) and Gidycz, Hanson and Layman (1995) found that between 18% and 21% of college women reported that they were sexually assaulted during a single academic quarter. Furthermore, 7% of these women indicated that they had experienced either an attempted rape or a rape. Further, women who experienced prior dating violence were at greater risk for revictimization throughout their college years (Smith et al., 2003). This may partially be explained by the fact that college and university women fall into the age range that is most susceptible to acquaintance rape: 16 to 24 years old (Benson, Charlton, & Goodhart, 1992). …

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