In light of domestic violence resurfacing at the forefront of many of our conversations, researchers at Georgia State University (GSU) has created an intervention program in hopes to lower the rates of sexual violence on college campuses.
As stated in the study led by Laura F Salazar, PhD, associate professor of Health Promotion and Behavior at GSU, “recent research has shown that 80 percent of female victims of sexual violence reported that their first rape occurred before the age of 25 years, 2.8 percent of female college students reported either a completed rape or attempted rape in the previous six months, which equates with an incidence rate of 5.6 percent per year.”
As a means to combat the issue of sexual assault, Salazar created a bystander-model-based training program called RealConsent. RealConsent, a Web-based approach to sexual violence prevention, specifically targets college men and urge them to intervene and take responsibility in life-threatening incidents.
Along with her team, Salazar surveyed 215 male students between the ages of 18 to 24 to assess their attitudes towards sexual consent. Following completion of the survey, participants were directed to complete either the RealConsent program or received training from a comparison program. Researchers instructed subjects to complete a post-intervention survey and a six-month follow-up.
As Salazar wrote, RealConsent had two primary goals: (1) to increase prosocial intervening behaviors that reduce risk for sexual violence perpetration (eg, expressing disapproval when a peer is verbally disparaging toward women, attempting to stop a peer who tries to be coercive/violent) and (2) to prevent sexually violent behaviors toward women.
Those who participated in RealConcent were more likely to intervene and less likely to engage in sexual violence. Additionally, subjects reported:
- Greater legal knowledge of sexual assault
- A better understanding of effective consent
- Less rape myths
- More compassion for rape victims
- Less hostility toward women
- Greater intentions to intervene
- Less comfort with other men’s inappropriate behaviors