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Program Profile: Sexual Assault Risk Reduction Program

Evidence Rating: No Effects - More than one study No Effects - More than one study

Date: This profile was posted on April 06, 2015

Program Summary

A rape prevention program for college students, which was designed to teach about the prevalence of sexual assault, distinguish between rape myths and facts, identify risky situations, and teach techniques that women can use in a risky situation. The program was rated No Effects. The program had a small effect on self-efficacy, and a small mixed-effect on self-protective dating behaviors, but did not impact sexual victimization, sexual aggression, attitudes toward women, or rape empathy.

Program Description

Program Goals
The Sexual Assault Risk Reduction Program was a rape prevention program for college students. The program was designed to teach about the prevalence of sexual assault, distinguish between myths and facts about rape and rapists, describe techniques women can use to increase personal safety; and identify agencies that can assist victims of sexual assault. The overall goal of the program was to reduce the occurrence of sexual assault by increasing women’s use of self-protective strategies and enhancing women’s self-efficacy in responding to threatening situations.

Program Components
The original version of the program was approximately an hour in length. Participants were presented with statistics on the number of sexual assaults that occur on college campuses and the legal definition of rape, to ensure that everyone was working with the same definition. Participants were then asked to complete a rape myths and facts worksheet, after which the responses were discussed in a group setting. The characteristics and attitudes often exhibited by offenders were identified, and case examples of acquaintance rape were discussed. Participants were taught strategies to increase personal safety and informed of agencies that assist victims of sexual assault. Given that both women and men were involved in the program, men were provided with guidelines that were thought to be helpful in avoiding situations that may lead to rape.

The program was later modified. The new version of the program was longer and included additional components. The new program took place in groups of 15–20 women, and was broken up into two different sessions. Session I consisted of informing participants of the societal factors that foster violence, and discussing definitions, risk factors for sexual victimization, and the need to reduce women’s self-blame. Participants watched two videos entitled “I thought it could never happen to me” and “Keep your eyes open: Alternative solutions for stressful social situations.”  Additionally, there were also small- and large-group discussions. Session II included a 2 ½ hour self-defense course that was administered 1 week after the program. Finally, 3 months after program completion, participants attended a 1½ hour booster session to review strategies taught during the program. 

The program was modified again to comprehensively address two components: psychological barriers to resistance, and intentions to engage in self-protective behavior (i.e., addressing a woman’s ability to foresee risk and engage in risk-reduction behaviors). All other program components were the same as in the previously discussed protocol.

Program Theory
The Sexual Assault Risk Reduction Program was grounded in social learning theory, as it strove to increase women’s ability to identify risky dating situations (Gidycz et al. 2006). Social learning theory is the belief that behavior is learned from the environment through observational learning. The theory holds that individuals actively think about the relationship between their behavior and the consequences that result. Therefore, through aiming to prevent risky behavior by teaching the consequences of this behavior and teaching self-protective strategies to replace this behavior, women are more likely to identify risky dating situations (McLeod 2011). 

Evaluation Outcomes

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Across three evaluations of the Sexual Assault Risk Reduction program, no significant differences between the treatment and comparison groups were found for any of the behavioral measures. Although there were statistically significant differences for the rape-myth acceptance and protective-dating behaviors outcomes, these differences were small and were the only significant outcomes for the attitudinal measures.  Overall, the preponderance of evidence suggests that the intervention did not impact sexual assault for program participants. 
 
Study 1
Sexual Aggression (self-report by male subjects)
At the 9-week follow-up period, Gidycz and colleagues (2001) found no significant differences in perpetration between treatment and comparison males among those who had raped, among those who had moderate aggression experiences in adolescence, or among those who had no history of aggression.  

Sexual Victimization
At the 9-week follow up, no significant differences in victimization were found between the treatment and comparison women among those who were raped in adolescence, among those who had moderate victimization experiences in adolescence, or among women who had no victimization history.  

Rape Myth Acceptance
The treatment group participants displayed less rape-myth acceptance at the follow-up than the control group. This was a small, but statistically significant difference.  

Rape Empathy
There were no significant differences at follow-up between the treatment and comparison groups in terms of rape empathy.  

Attitudes Towards Women
At the 9-week follow up, no significant differences were found between the treatment and comparison groups in terms of attitudes toward women.    

Study 2
Sexual Victimization
Gidycz and colleagues (2006) found no significant differences in sexual victimization between the treatment and comparison groups at the 3-month and 6-month follow-up periods.  

Self-Efficacy
No differences were found between the treatment and comparison groups at the 3- and 6-month follow-up periods in terms of self-efficacy. The study authors found that regardless of which group study participants were assigned to, women experienced significant increases in self-efficacy between the pretest and the 6-month follow-up.  

Protective Dating Behaviors
Significant, yet small differences were found between the treatment and comparison group participants in terms of protective dating behaviors. Treatment group participants revealed significant increases in self-protective behaviors across pretest, the 3-month follow-up, and the 6-month follow-up periods. Comparison group participants did not exhibit change in reports of self-protective behavior over time.  

Study 3
Sexual Victimization
Orchowski and colleagues (2008) found small differences between the treatment and comparison conditions at the 2-month follow-up period in terms of sexual victimization. However, no significant interactions were found between program participation and sexual victimization over the 4-month interim.  

Self-Efficacy
Although self-efficacy scores among program participants were higher than those in the placebo-control group at both the 2-month and 4-month follow-up periods, these differences were not statistically significant.  

Protective Dating Behaviors
A statistically significant main effect was found for protective dating behaviors. Participants in the placebo-control group reported lower levels of self-protective behaviors compared with participants in the treatment group at the 2-month and 4-month follow-up periods. 
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Evaluation Methodology

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Study 1
To investigate the impact of the Sexual Assault Risk Reduction program, Gidcyz and colleagues (2001) conducted a randomized controlled trial on a large college campus in Ohio. The study sample was 1,108 college students. The sample included 300 men and 808 women, which was demographically composed of Caucasian (93 percent), African American (5 percent), Asian (1.3 percent), Hispanic (0.6 percent), and Native American (0.1 percent) participants.

To determine program impact, the following outcome measures were used: Rape Myth Acceptance Scale, Rape Empathy Scale, Attitudes Toward Women Scale, and the Sexual Experiences Survey. The Rape Myth Acceptance Scale was used to determine the degree to which participants believed rape myths. The Rape Empathy Scale was used to assess the degree to which participants empathized with rape victims or offenders. The Attitudes Toward Women Scale was used to measure participants’ attitudes regarding the rights and roles of women. The Sexual Experiences Survey was used to measure the number of experiences of sexual aggression in men and sexual victimization in women.

All participants received and completed all 4 measures at the beginning of an academic quarter and then participated in either the prevention program or the control program. The control program consisted of a brief handout on sexual assault. Following completion of the treatment program or the control program, participants completed an evaluation form. Nine weeks after completion, participants in both programs returned to complete the 4 measures once again. 

The study authors analyzed sexual victimization for women during the 9-week follow up as a function of their victimization history and participation in the treatment program. To do so, the level of victimization was categorized into three groups: no history of sexual victimization (no items on the scale were endorsed), moderate sexual victimization (items assessing unwanted sexual experiences other than rape), and rape (physical force or threats of force were used to coerce the woman into sexual intercourse).  Additionally, the study authors analyzed sexual aggression for men during the 9-week follow-up period as a function of perpetration history and participation in the treatment program. The level of aggression was also categorized into three groups: 1) none, 2) moderate, and 3) rape. 

Study 2
To investigate the impact of the modified Sexual Assault Risk Reduction program, Gidycz and colleagues (2006) conducted a randomized controlled trial at a medium-sized midwestern university. Participants included 500 undergraduate women who were recruited from a psychology department participant pool. The vast majority of women were 18 or 19 years old, and in their 1st or 2nd year of college. The demographic composition of participants consisted of Caucasian (93 percent), African American (3 percent), Asian American (3 percent), Latina (1 percent), and other (1 percent). Participants were randomly assigned to either the risk reduction program (n= 234) or the wait-list control group (n=266). Following random assignment into the two groups, participants completed the outcome measures and were assessed for a history of sexual victimization. 

The outcome measures included the Sexual Experiences Victimization Survey, the Self-Efficacy Scale, the Self-Protection Against Rape Scale, and, if applicable, the Post-Assault Questionnaire. The Self-Efficacy Scale is a 7-item self-report scale that measures confidence in assertive resistance to sexually threatening advances. The Self-Protection Against Rape Scale was used to measure participants’ willingness to use resistance in threatening dating situations. Finally, the Post-Assault Questionnaire was given to women in both groups who were assaulted during the follow-up periods. The questionnaire asked about the assault and their response to the assault.

During both the 3-month and 6-month follow-up sessions, participants completed these outcome measures again and completed the Sexual Experiences Survey with regard to their experiences during the interim period. These measures were used to analyze the differences between the treatment group and wait-list control group on sexual victimization, self-efficacy, protective dating behaviors, and sexual communication.

Study 3
To investigate the impact of another modified version of the program, Orchowski and colleagues (2008) conducted a randomized controlled trial at a medium-sized midwestern university. Participants included 31 women enrolled in psychology courses, predominately 18–19 years old, and in their 1st or 2nd year of college. The demographical composition of the participants was Caucasian (96 percent), African American (3 percent), Asian American (0.3 percent), and other (0.7 percent). Participants were randomized into the treatment group or a placebo-control group. The placebo-control group protocol focused on vaccine-preventable diseases, was the same length as the prevention program, and included a booster session review of program material.

The following outcome measures were used: the Sexual Experiences Survey, Dating Self-Protection Against Rape Scale, and the Self-Efficacy Scale. Additionally, a set of questions was used at the 4-month follow-up period to measure how women’s use of self-protective strategies and self-defense tactics differed between groups.  

An analysis of variance was conducted to assess whether program participation was associated with increased levels of self-protective dating behaviors and self-efficacy in resisting potential attackers over the 4-month follow-up period, compared with the comparison condition.  An analysis was also used to examine the interactions among program participation, history of adolescent victimization, and experiences of sexual victimization over the 2-month follow-up period, and sexual victimization over the 4-month follow-up period. 
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Cost

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There is no cost information available for this program.
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Evidence-Base (Studies Reviewed)

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These sources were used in the development of the program profile:

Study 1
Gidycz, Christine A., Melissa J. Layman, Cindy L. Rich, Marie Crothers, Julius Gylys, Abigail Matorin, and Cecilia Dine Jacobs. 2001. “An Evaluation of an Acquaintance Rape Prevention Program: Impact on Attitudes, Sexual Aggression, and Sexual Victimization.” Journal of Interpersonal Violence 16(11)1120–38.


Study 2
Gidycz, Christine A., Cindy L. Rich, Lindsay Orchowski, Carrie King, and Audrey K. Miller. 2006. “The Evaluation of a Sexual Assault Self-Defense and Risk-Reduction Program for College Women: A Prospective Study.” Psychology of Women Quarterly 30 (2):173–83.


Study 3
Orchowski, Lindsay M., Christine A. Gidycz, and Holly Raffle. 2008. “Evaluation of a Sexual Assault Risk Reduction and Self-Defense Program: A Prospective Analysis of a Revised Protocol.” Psychology of Women Quarterly 32 (2): 204–18.

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Additional References

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These sources were used in the development of the program profile:

McLeod, Saul. 2011. “Bandura – Social Learning Theory.” Simply Psychology.
http://www.simplypsychology.org/bandura.html
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Program Snapshot

Gender: Both

Race/Ethnicity: Black, American Indians/Alaska Native, Asian/Pacific Islander, Hispanic, White, Other

Geography: Urban

Setting (Delivery): Campus

Program Type: Classroom Curricula, Victim Programs, Violence Prevention, Therapeutic Communities, Specific deterrence

Targeted Population: Victims of Crime

Current Program Status: Not Active