Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Key Findings 2/5

This research was carried out between August 2009 and March 2010. During this time NUS conducted a literature review and a national online survey of 2058 women students’ experiences of harassment, financial control, control over their course and institution choices, stalking, violence, and sexual assault. Only current students were asked to fill in the survey, and questions were only asked about students’ experiences whilst studying at their current institution. This report summarises the headline findings from this research.

Women students’ perceptions of safety
•More than one third of respondents reported that they sometimes felt unsafe when visiting their university or college buildings in the evening. This is in notable contrast to perceptions of safety during the day when 97 per cent of students always or mostly felt safe.
•Women were most likely to feel unsafe in the evening at their institution because of concerns that they were likely to be harassed or intimidated.
•Students in halls of residences reported feeling unsafe because of concerns with security breaches.

Prevalence of violence and harassment
•Women students reported experiences of a range of unwanted behaviour during their time as a student, ranging from ‘everyday’ verbal and non-verbal harassment, to serious episodes of stalking, physical and sexual assault.
•One in seven survey respondents has experienced a serious physical or sexual assault during their time as a student.
•Over two thirds of respondents (68 per cent) have experienced some kind of verbal or non-verbal
harassment in and around their institution. This kind of behaviour – which includes groping, flashing and unwanted sexual comments – has become almost ‘everyday’ for some women students.
•12 per cent of respondents reported being subject to stalking.
•More than one in ten has been a victim of serious physical violence.
•16 per cent have experienced unwanted kissing, touching or molesting during their time as a student,
the majority of which has taken place in public.
•Seven per cent have been subject to a serious sexual assault, the majority of which occurred in
somebody’s home.
•One in ten victims of serious sexual assault was given alcohol or drugs against their will before the attack.
•A small number of student women (two per cent) reported that their finances have been controlled by family members or a partner, or that their educational choices have been influenced using threats or violence.

Profile of perpetrators
•The majority of perpetrators of stalking, sexual assault and physical violence were already known to
the victim.
•Men were the majority of perpetrators of stalking (89 per cent) and physical violence (73 per cent).
•Students were the majority of perpetrators in most categories, the majority of whom were studying at the same institution as the respondent. The exception to this rule was in the category of physical violence where just under half of offenders were students (48 per cent).
•Respondents were most likely to report that the perpetrator was a student at the same institution in the case of stalking; 60 per cent were students and 49 per cent of those were at the same institution.

Reporting levels and factors influencing reporting
•Reporting levels were low across all categories surveyed. Respondents were most likely to report
stalking to somebody at the institution (21 per cent), and victims of serious physical violence were most likely to report the incident to the police (17 per cent).
•Students who had been subjected to a less serious sexual assault were least likely to report either to the police or to the institution (two per cent).
•The most common reason overall for not reportingwas that students did not feel that what had
happened was serious enough to report.
•The most common reason for not reporting serious sexual assault was that the victim felt ashamed or
embarrassed; 43 per cent also thought they would be blamed for what had happened, and one in three
thought they would not be believed.
•Women students in all categories were most likely to report or discuss what had happened to them with friends or family; 80 per cent of stalking victims had done so.
•More than four in ten victims of serious sexual assault had told nobody about what had happened
to them.

The impact of stalking, violence and sexual assault on women students
•Respondents reported a range of different consequences of violence, stalking and sexual assault on their health, experience of learning, confidence and relationships, with the most common consequence in any category being deterioration of mental health.
•Experiences of stalking, violence and sexual assault can negatively affect a student’s education; one in four victims of serious sexual assault stated that their studies had been affected by the incident, and one in seven victims of serious physical assault reported that their attendance had suffered.
•Approximately one quarter of stalking victims reported that the obsessive behaviour they had been
subjected to had affected their mental health, studies and relationships. Furthermore, students in this
category were more likely to report concerns if the behaviour had persisted for more than three months.
•Women who have been victims of serious sexual assault reported the most significant impact in nearly every area. Just under two thirds (63 per cent) said that their relationships had been affected,
approximately half (49 per cent) reported issues with their mental health, and more than one in ten (12 per cent) said there had been consequences to their physical health. 13 per cent had considered leaving their course.
•Women students also commonly reported a loss of confidence, and feeling increased fear as a consequence of being a victim of violence.

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