A longitudinal perspective on women’s risk perceptions for sexual assault
Much effort has been directed toward developing effective rape prevention programs. Genuine prevention programs must be directed toward men; programs directed toward women are really deterrence programs.1 However, until effective programs for men are developed, there is a continuing need to fmd strategies for empowering women to reduce their chances of victimization. Recent research has begun to address the question of how women recognize cues associated with the risk of an assault. One aspect of this work has been a focus on cognitive processes related to risk perception2. However, unless a woman believes that she is at risk it is unlikely that she will engage in vigilance strategies that alert her to danger cues in a particular situation. Many sexual assaults are committed by acquaintances, often in contexts where women’s past experiences indicate they are in safe situations, i.e., dates Thus, the present study examines women’s general belief that they are at risk for sexual assault, premised on the assumption that if they do not believe they are at risk they will not engage in risk-reducing behaviors.
KeywordsSexual Assault Risk Perception Sexual Victimization Sexual Aggression Future Victimization
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