Violence Against Young Women

Compared to other women in Canada, young women (15 to 24 yrs.) are at the greatest risk of experiencing violence both within and outside of intimate relationships. Learn from research and evaluations related to statistics on the incidence and prevalence of violence against secondary school and college and university females, technology based violence, the consequences of violence including trauma, and dating violence prevention, campaigns and bystander education programs. Review strategies to increase women’s safety on campuses such as inclusive safety audits and sexual violence policies and response protocols.

Bringing in the target audience in bystander social marketing materials for communities: Suggestions for practitioners.
Strategies for engaging target audiences in developing bystander social marketing campaigns are identified using the Know Your Power campaign as a case study.

Bystander Sexual Violence Education programs for high school, college and university students
Learning Network Brief 09
This Learning Brief describes the bystander approach for preventing sexual violence including its effectiveness and promising strategies for future bystander education programs. The brief also highlights three promising programs and campaigns.

Crossing the Line: Sexual Harassment at School
This report, developed by the American Association of University Women (AAUW), highlights the issue of sexual harassment, including cyber-harassment, in middle schools and high schools across the U.S. based on a national survey conducted in 2011. Almost 2000 students in grades 7 to 12 were surveyed on their experience with sexual harassment in school and its impact. Students were also asked to provide recommendations on how schools can respond to and prevent sexual harassment. The results of the survey indicated that nearly half of the students surveyed had experienced some form of sexual harassment with the majority stating it had a negative impact on them. Girls were more likely than boys to experience sexual harassment and their experiences were more physical and intrusive. More than half of the students stated they had witnessed sexual harassment more than once during the school year; however very few reported it. Some examples of recommendations to reduce sexual harassment in school included: designating a person students can talk to; providing online resources; allowing students to report anonymously; and enforcing sexual harassment policies and punishing harassers.

Developing a Response to Sexual Violence: A Resource Guide For Ontario's Colleges and Universities
This 2013 guide was developed by the Ontario Women’s Directorate in collaboration with the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, with input from organizations, associations and individuals in the postsecondary and violence against women sectors. The user-friendly guide provides information about sexual violence and assists colleges and universities in developing formal sexual violence policies and response protocols. It includes helpful tools, including a sample statement of roles and responsibilities for campus groups and templates for sexual violence policies and protocols, local services listing, and campus safety alerts.

Enquête sociale et de santé auprès des enfants et des adolescents québécois 1999
This report highlights the results of the Social and Health Survey for Children and Quebec Adolescents conducted in 1999. The purpose of the survey is to determine the prevalence of aspects of health and wellbeing of children and adolescents in Quebec. The survey examines the magnitude of various social phenomena that can impact a child’s or adolescent’s wellbeing (e.g., violence, contraceptive behaviour, custody and access) including various risk and protective factors. Topics focus on the following areas: individual characteristics of youth (e.g., demographics; physical and mental health; psychosocial issues such as behaviour problems and violence); living environment (e.g., family characteristics and relationships; health of parents; child custody); and network of belonging (e.g., school violence; social network; social support; social environment including neighbourhood safety and violence). This report is written in French.

Impact of Sexual Harassment Victimization by Peers on Subsequent Adolescent Victimization and Adjustment: A Longitudinal Study
This study examined gender differences in the prevalence and types of sexual harassment experienced by students in grade 9 and how it impacted relationship victimization and psychological adjustment years later. A total of 1734 students from 23 schools were surveyed when they entered grade 9 and again at the end of grade 11. Results indicated that sexual harassment was common among boys (42%) and girls (44%) with girls experiencing more sexual jokes, comments, and unwanted touching and boys experiencing more homosexual slurs or receiving unwanted sexual content. Girls who experienced sexual harassment had an elevated risk of self-harm, suicidal thoughts, maladaptive eating, early dating, substance use and feeling unsafe at school. Boys reported similar impacts except for dieting and self-harming behaviours. Students who experienced sexual harassment in grade 9 were more likely to report victimization by peers and dating partners at the end of grade 11 compared to students who did not experience sexual harassment.

Infographic on Violence Against Young Women
The Learning Network created an infographic in conjunction with the Issue 6: Violence Against Young Women newsletter.  The infographic depicts statistics on violence against female secondary school students, college and university students, missing or murdered Aboriginal women and girls, self-reported victimization and police-reported violence against women in Canada.

Key Best Practices for Effective Sexual Violence Public Education Campaigns: A summary.
Key best practices for sexual violence public education campaigns are identified within the context of framing the issue of sexual violence as an issue of gender inequality; applying social norms theory on how to change behavior; and the value of engaging bystanders. Elements of effective social marketing campaigns are identified and campaign message considerations are discussed.

Measuring violence against women: Statistical trends
This report from Statistics Canada uses the most current police-reported and self-reported data to describe the prevalence and severity; risk factors; impacts; and responses to violence against women in Canada. This report also contains information on dating violence, violence against girls and violence that occurs outside of the intimate partner context.

METRAC: Campus Safety Audits Services
In 1989, the Metropolitan Action Committee on Violence Against Women and Children (METRAC), in partnership with the Council of Ontario Universities (COU), developed a guide for conducting campus safety audits. The goal is to audit all levels of campus life (e.g., physical environment, policies, resources, services, social dynamics) by conducting a gender-aware, anti-oppressive and intersectional analysis. The audit includes input from members of the campus community, including perspectives of those who may feel more vulnerable to violence (e.g., women, visible minorities, people with disabilities and deaf issues). Audit findings inform recommendations for responding to and preventing multiple forms of violence.

Model Campus Stalking Policy
This 2016 document provides examples of stalking policies intended for schools to adapt and implement on their campuses.

Natalie Novak - Learning from her Parents
Twenty year old Natalie, the daughter of Dawn and Ed Novak, was murdered by her ex-boyfriend while attending university. Seven years later, her parents share their understanding of this preventable tragedy and their mission to end violence through video.

Not Alone – The First Report of the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault
In 2014, the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault had a national conversation with thousands of people regarding sexual assault and women on campus.  This report outlines the first set of action steps and recommendations developed in response to this national discussion.  The first steps identified include: identifying the problem using campus climate surveys; preventing sexual assault and engaging men; effectively responding when a student is sexually assaulted; and increasing transparency and improving enforcement.

Prevalence and Characteristics of Sexual Violence, Stalking, and Intimate Partner Violence Victimization — National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, United States, 2011.  Surveillance Summaries
Published in September 2014, this report describes the most recent U.S. data on sexual violence, stalking, and intimate partner violence victimization and the characteristics of victimization. The report summarizes the second year of data collection from the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, a national random-digit-dial telephone (landline and cellular) survey of the non-institutionalized English- and Spanish-speaking U.S. population aged ≥18 years.  The lifetime prevalence rates and the occurrence over the past 12 months are presented for each form of surveyed violence.  Limitations of the survey and recommendations suggested by the findings are presented.

Preventing and Reducing Violence Against Young Women on Post-secondary Campuses: A Best Practices Guide
This Best Practices Guide was developed through the CampUS Safety Project, initiated by Interim Place and the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM).  The CampUS Safety Project is a two year project which began in 2012 with the purpose of enhancing opportunities for UTM to actively prevent and reduce violence against young women and support measures to address violence against young women on campus.  The project was funded by Status of Women Canada.  Using a gender-based analysis, the CampUS Safety Project engaged young people attending UTM and UTM staff to get their thoughts on campus safety and young women’s perceptions of safety; the prevalence of violence against women both on and off campus; and how UTM can prevent and reduce violence against young women.  This Guide provides best practices and recommendations based on the experience of the CampUS Safety Project.

Preventing Teen Dating Violence: An Evaluation of the Teen Violence Prevention Program
In 2011, the Canadian Women’s Foundation published a report on an evaluation of four best practices in dating violence/healthy relationships curricula used in Canadian schools: 1) Saltspring Islands’ Respectful Relationship Program; 2) The Fourth R (based in London, Ontario); 3) Making Waves/Vague par vague (based in New Brunswick); and 4) Healthy Relationships for Youth (based in Antigonish, Nova Scotia). The purpose of the evaluation was to assess whether these programs have an impact on youth in the long-term and whether participants found the information useful and have used the skills they learned in either their own relationships or to help friends and/or family. The results indicated that the majority of students felt they gained a significant amount of knowledge after completing the program; the materials were useful, informative, and relatable; including youth or peer facilitators was a major benefit of the programs; many of the students used the skills they were taught in their dating relationships and to support family and/or friends; and student participants felt that the programs had long-term benefits such as developing relationship and conflict resolution skills, becoming more confident, staying out of trouble, making the right choices, and learning how to get out of an unhealthy relationship.

Psynopsis - Using Social Psychology to Make a University Campus a Safer Place
This article, in the Winter 2013 issue of Psynopsis, describes the effectiveness of bystander education in preventing sexual assault and discusses the process of implementing the Bystander Initiative at the University of Windsor.

Report on the AAU Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct
This 2015 report provides selected results for five questions investigated by the Association of American Universities: 1) How extensive is non-consensual sexual contact? 2) How extensive is sexual harassment, stalking and intimate partner violence? 3) Who are the victims? 4) To whom do students report or talk about the incidents? 5) What is the campus climate around sexual assault and sexual misconduct?

Safer Women...Safer Everyone: A Video about Safety on Campus
The Metropolitan Action Committee on Violence Against Women and Children (METRAC) created an education video for the Council of Ontario Universities that showcases the Campus Safety Audit process. The purpose of the audit is to make colleges and universities safer for women and other vulnerable groups.

Safety Planning Across Culture & Community: A Guide for Front Line Violence Against Women Responders
This guide was developed to help professionals who support survivors of woman abuse broaden their approach to safety planning by including more specific factors and considerations relevant to women with differing social locations.  The guide outlines: 1) general risk identification and safety planning with women who are victims of violence in an intimate relationship; 2) risk identification with women across culture; immigrant and refugee women; older women; sex workers; younger women; women with disabilities; lesbian, bisexual, and queer women; and trans people; and 3) resources available to survivors of woman abuse.  The guide was created by the Community Coordination for Women’s Safety and the Ending Violence Association of BC.

Sexual Assault Policies on Campus: A Discussion Paper
This 2014 discussion paper, developed by METRAC, highlights promising practices and challenges in institutional policies on sexual assault committed by and against post-secondary students in Canada.  The paper provides a “snapshot” review of sample sexual assault policies on campuses and illustrate gaps and inconsistencies in how the issue is treated.  A literature review identifies helpful practices in reporting, investigation and adjudication and determines future steps for improvement.

Sexual Harassment and Related Behaviours Reported Among Youth from Grade 9 to Grade 11
This paper describes a study on the nature and role of abuse and sexual harassment in Grade 9 and Grade 11. Over 1800 students from 23 high schools in Ontario completed a questionnaire about their experiences of abuse and sexual harassment, both as a victim and as a perpetrator. Results indicated that girls are more often victimized than boys, and boys are more often the perpetrator of sexual harassment. The frequency of abuse and harassment reduced over time; however students who reported more harassment by peers in grade 9 were more likely to be a victim of harassment in grade 11, especially in romantic relationships.

Sexual violence prevention: The role of stages of change.
Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 25 (1) 111-135.
This article discusses the utility of applying the Transtheoretical Model of Behavior Change to sexual violence prevention and education and uses the Bringing in the Bystander program as a case study. Examples of specific measures to quantify readiness for change to be used in sexual violence prevention and education programs are offered.

Sexuality and Romantic Relationships in the Digital Age
This is the fifth report from the survey of Young Canadians in a Wired World (MediaSmarts, 2014).  Over 5,000 students in grades 4 through 11 from all provinces and territories across the country completed the survey.  The report summaries survey responses with text and graphs. Limited contextual analysis is provided.  Topic areas include using the internet as a resource on sexuality and relationships, managing relationships online, pornography, and sexting.  Included is the finding that forwarding sexts is highly gendered (p. 25).

Statistics Canada: Internet use by individuals, by selected frequency of use and age
Statistics Canada used the Canadian Internet Use Survey (CIUS) to measure household access to the Internet. This table breaks down individual Internet use by frequency of use and age. Results of the survey revealed that in 2005, 2007, and 2009, the most frequent users of the Internet at home were individuals 34 years and under.

Status of Women Canada – Engaging Young People to Prevent Violence against Women on Post-Secondary Campuses: The Ontario Projects
Learning Network Brief 10
In 2012, Status of Women Canada provided 21 Canadian organizations with 2-year funding to promote equality and reduce gender-based violence on college and university campuses. All projects build partnerships and collaboration between campus and community stakeholders, identify factors associated with violence on campus, and develop responses to gender-based violence within their campus community. This brief describes the seven Ontario-based projects.

Student Safety in Nova Scotia: A Review of Student Union Policies and Practices to Prevent Sexual Violence
commissioned a report that provides an overview of sexual assault on Nova Scotia campuses, discusses the role that student leadership can play in building a culture of prevention and intervention around sexual assault, and provides recommendations aimed at placing student leaders as change agents on campus.  Student union leaders and university staff across six campuses were interviewed as well as off-campus health experts.

The evaluation of campus-based gender violence prevention programming: What we know about program effectiveness and implications for practitioners.
An overview of campus-based gender violence prevention programs is offered including risk reduction/self-defence; empathy building; rape awareness/attitude changing; and bystander programs. Summary of findings of available evaluations is offered as well as implications for prevention programming.

The Hunting Ground: Action Toolkit
This 2016 toolkit created by Futures Without Violence empowers key audiences – students, parents, alumni, faculty, advisors and administrators – with strategies for addressing sexual violence on campus.  The toolkit was created as a response to the documentary The Hunting Ground.

The Incidence and prevalence of woman abuse in Canadian university and college dating relationships
This paper presents incidence and prevalence data of woman abuse in Canadian university and college dating relationships. Over 3000 students (both men and women) from 44 colleges and universities across the country completed the questionnaire. Results indicated that 27% of women attending college or university had experienced sexual abuse in a dating relationship, 22% had experienced physical abuse, and 79% had experienced psychological abuse.

The Red Flag Campaign
The Red Flag Campaign launched in Virginia in October 2007.  The purpose of the campaign is to address dating violence on college campuses.  The campaign was created using a ‘bystander intervention’ strategy that encourages campus community members to speak up when they see warning signs or ‘red flags’ for dating violence.  The campaign is a project of the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance and was created by college students, college personnel, and community victim advocates.  The campaign includes posters, a website, and a campus planning guide.

Using social psychology to make a university campus a safer place.
Psynopsis, 35 (1) 61-62)
Lessons learned from the implementation of the sexual violence prevention program “Bringing in the Bystander” at the University of Windsor are discussed. The program has been developed into a university credit course. Challenges to institutionalization of the program are identified.

Violence Against Young Women
Learning Network Newsletter 6
We are pleased to release Issue 6 of the Learning Network e-newsletter – Violence Against Young Women. We are especially grateful to Dawn and Ed Novak for their reflections on their daughter Natalie’s preventable murder, featured in our Learning From Lived Experience segment. This Issue also includes infographics on violence against young women, the consequences they experience, resources, gaps, and promising prevention and education initiatives. Please be sure to complete the brief evaluation survey found on the last page of the newsletter.

Violence and Accessibility: Increasing Safety for Women with Disabilities On Campus
This 2012 Violence and Accessibility report was developed by Springtide Resources with the purpose of initiating conversations among university and college administrators, faculty and staff about the experiences of women with disAbilities on campus. Seventeen young women with disAbilities, who attended or were currently attending a college or university, participated in focus groups to discuss their experience with violence on campus and the barriers they faced when accessing services. These women provided several recommendations, aimed at college and university services, VAW organizations in the communities, and fellow students, for preventing violence on campus, improving accessibility to supports and services, promoting open discussions, and enhancing campus safety.

What It Is
What.It.Is. is a quiz game aimed at youth that explores issues of sexual violence. Specifically, the game tests your knowledge while providing information on definitions, myths, and realities of sexual violence; the needs, rights and concerns of survivors; how to support a friend who has experienced sexual violence; and available supportive services. The game is offered in both English and French and can be played online or on mobile phones.

What Their Stories Tell Us: Research findings from the Sisters In Spirit initiative
In 2005, the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) received funding from the Status of Women Canada to create the Sisters in Spirit Initiative. The purpose of the Sisters in Spirit Initiative was to identify the number of Aboriginal women and girls who had gone missing or who had been killed; understand the root causes, circumstances and trends around this violence; and address why this violence occurred without any support or intervention from the Canadian justice system. As of March 31, 2010, the Sisters in Spirit Initiative identified 582 cases of missing or murdered Aboriginal women and girls. The research findings attributed the impact of colonization, state policies, and intergenerational trauma to the violence experienced by Aboriginal women and girls and highlighted the need for policy, programs and services to address these issues in order to prevent future violence.

When can I help? A conceptual framework for the prevention of sexual violence through bystander intervention.
A conceptual framework is offered for identifying the range of opportunities where bystanders may intervene in cases of sexual violence ranging from reactive situations (after an assault has occurred); situations before an assault has occurred; as well as proactive situations where no risk to victim is present. Implications for program development, research and evaluation are discussed.