Thursday, December 22, 2016

Research method, Scope of the research, Structure of the report and Terminology 5/5

Research was carried out between  August 2009 and March 2010. This consisted of a review of existing research and statistics about violence against women in the UK, public policy approaches in the field, studies of gendered violence in student communities in other countries such as the United States, and surveys of attitudes towards victims of crime.
Between November 2009 and January 2010, NUS asked women students in both further and higher education to complete an online survey about their perceptions of safety and their experiences of harassment, stalking, financial abuse, violence and sexual assault. The survey was developed after extensive research into best practice with regard to surveys of violence against women (further information about this is provided in Appendix A) and in particular draws on questions used in the National College
Women Sexual Victimization Study.7 It was also developed in consultation with a number of organisations and individuals with expertise in the area, including, but not limited to, Refuge, Women’s Aid,
Rape Crisis and Amnesty International UK. 2058 valid responses to the survey were received. Partial responses were accepted and, as a result, percentages given throughout the report refer to the base for that question, which differs depending on the question. The demographic profile of survey participants is provided in Appendix B, and base rates for each question are listed in Appendix A.
Quantative data from the survey were analysed using SPSS, and the qualitative data were coded by hand. A group of critical readers provided advice and feedback on the analysis of data and presentation of findings.

Scope of the research
The survey covers both further and higher education, including women currently studying in higher education institutions, colleges, work-based learning, sixth-form colleges and adult learning providers. Women studying in all four countries of the UK, including international students, and aged between 16 and 60, participated in the survey.
The survey included questions about:
• perceptions of safety;
• unwanted verbal and physical sexual harassment;
• control over finances needed to be a student;
• control over choice of course or institution;
• stalking;
• physical violence;
• sexual assault.
Students were not asked about any experiences prior to their becoming a student, since the intent was to take a snapshot of current students’ experiences in their present place of study. Neither were students asked about emotional or psychological abuse. Nonetheless, a number of participants did use open text boxes to tell us about such experiences. Details about question wording and definitions are provided in Appendix A.
The survey did not ask about violence experienced by male students. Whilst we recognise that male students have a heightened risk of being a victim of violent crime, and can be subject to the full range of behaviour surveyed in this research, the primary aim of this research was to explore women students' experiences, focusing particularly, although not exclusively, on men's behaviour towards women and the impact of gendered violence on women.
This report outlines headline findings from the survey. Further analysis will be carried out on the data to explore differences between experiences for women from different backgrounds, including women from different ethnic groups, women of different sexual orientations, trans women and disabled women. This will be published in due course.

Structure of the report
Following a summary of the key findings and recommendations, the analysis of survey findings is
presented in six chapters. In these chapters we consider:
• women students' perceptions of safety;
• the prevalence of harassment, stalking, violence and sexual assault against women students;
• the profile of offenders – who perpetrates violence against women students;
• factors influencing reporting – which crimes women report to their institution and the police; reasons for not reporting; experiences of reporting;
• the consequences of violence for women students;
• recommendations to support women victims and prevent further violence.
The appendices include a list of headline survey questions, details of the survey participant profile,
response rates for individual questions, and information about the survey design.

Violence against women is a global phenomenon which affects women from all sections of society and of all ages. Violence against women can be defined in a number of different ways, but is generally understood as gendered violence experienced by women, which can include physical, sexual, emotional, psychological and financial abuse, as well as threatening, coercive and controlling behaviour. In this survey, we asked questions about verbal and non-verbal harassment, stalking, physical violence, financial abuse and sexual assault experienced by women students, and whether
that behaviour was perpetrated by men or women.
Throughout this report we use the term victim to describe respondents who reported being subject to
harassment, stalking, violence and sexual assault. We use this term as it is the most widely-used term in the criminal justice system, whilst recognising that many women who have experienced different forms of harassment and violence against women may not describe themselves in these terms, and that some prefer to describe themselves as survivors.
There is no strict definition of the term sexual harassment, but it is commonly understood to describe unwelcome behaviour of a sexual nature. In this report, we use the expression to describe the behaviours listed in Appendix A, which are those we asked students to tell us about.

The terms perpetrator and offender are used interchangeably throughout the report to describe the
person responsible for incidents reported by students.
Institution is used to refer to educational institutions or learning providers in the further and higher education sectors.

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