In Their Own Words: A Content-Analytic Study of College Women’s Resistance to Sexual Assault


The purpose of this study was to utilize a mixed methodological approach to better understand the co-occurrence of perpetrator tactics and women’s resistance strategies during a sexual assault and women’s reflections on these experiences. College women were recruited from introductory psychology courses and completed both forced-choice response and open-ended survey questions for course credit. Content-analytic results of college women’s written responses to an open-ended question suggested that women’s resistance strategies generally mirrored the tactics of the perpetrator (e.g., women responded to perpetrator verbal pressure with verbal resistance). However, there were some instances in which this was not the case. Furthermore, a number of women expressed a degree of self-blame for the sexual assault in their responses, as well as minimization and normalization of the experience. These findings suggest that sexual assault risk reduction programs need to directly address victims’ self-blame as well as create an atmosphere where societal factors that lead to minimization can be addressed.


Psychology, Prevention Innovations Research Center Pubs

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Journal of Interpersonal Violence


Sage Publications

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