Sexual assault is an issue of major public health and social concern worldwide. Sexual assault is defined as “any sexual act, attempt to obtain a sexual act, unwanted sexual comments or advances, or acts to traffic a person’s sexuality, using coercion, threats of harm or physical force, by any person regardless of relationships to the victim, in any settings, including but not limited to home and work” (World Health Organization [WHO], 2002). According to the National Violence Against Women Survey (NVAWS), 1 out of 6 women and 1 out of 33 men have been the target of an attempted or completed sexual assault (Tjaden & Thonennes, 2000). The increasing numbers of sexual assault cases coupled ...view middle of the document...
Therefore, this review will address the challenges and how these challenges could be dealt in order to provide an effective therapy.
The Elaboration Likelihood Model (Petty and Cacioppo, 1986) and Eagly and Chaiken’s (1992) model of attitude-change are examples of theories used generally in educational interventions that have been applied to sexual assault intervention programs (^^). These theories suggest that education can change rape-supportive attitudes and that attitude change will lead to decreased sexual assault (Brecklin & Forde, 2001); but this assumption remains largely untested (Repucci, Land & Haugard, 2001). There is currently no evidence that changing these attitudes will reduce the incidence of sexual perpetration or sexual victimization. It is important to keep in mind that reserachers were only measuring a participant’s intent; in no way study were any of the intended behaviours actually required to be carried out or measured by the researchers. Only one study actually attempted to measure behavioural effects of a sexual assault prevention program with a mixed-sex audience and the results were disappointing; that is, the program was not found to have an effect on self-reported rates of sexual aggression or victimization among the participants during a 2-month follow up period (Gidycz, et al., 2001).
The majority of published studies on sexual assault intervention are targeted at mixed-sex college student audiences. Although the rationale for mixed-sex programming is being challenged, Holcomb, Sarvela, Sondag, and Holcomb (1993) content that mixed-sex programs might reduce the negative consequences of blame by addressing the shared responsibility for sexual assault prevention by both men and women. The primary goal of all mixed-sex programs is to prevent sexual assault by jointly exposing men and women to psycho-educational programming. There is currently no evidence that changing behavioural attitudes will reduce the incidence of sexual perpetration or sexual victimization. Therefore, current programs have also begun to use the risk recognition and reduction models to guide program development.
However, in an effort to investigate the permanence of change, researchers have begun to institute follow-up sessions of varying lengths of time as part of their research design. In one study (Heppner, Good et al., 1995), men demonstrated more of a rebound toward their pre-program attitudes than women at a 2-month follow up.
Therefore, currently no intervention program for mixed-sex audiences has demonstrated long-term and significant attitude or behaviour change among the program participants. It could be assumed that in mixed-sex programs one sex may benefit at the expense of the other sex. Thus, development of single-sex programs has been given further attention.
According to one review of college-based intervention programs, fundamentally all evaluations report favourable outcomes (Breitenbecher, 2000). The effectiveness of sexual...