Milken Institute School of Public Health Poster Presentations (Marvin Center & Video)

Title

Assessing the Mental and Physical Health Impacts of Self-Defense Training for Young Women: A Critical Analysis

Poster Number

98

Document Type

Poster

Status

Graduate Student - Masters

Abstract Category

Prevention and Community Health

Keywords

Women; Sexual Assault; Self-Defense

Publication Date

4-2017

Abstract

Background: Women are continuously at risk of being sexually assaulted and even with more stringent laws and increased prevention efforts, the number of assaults has not significantly decreased in the past forty years. This study sought to examine effective and ineffective rape prevention techniques, determine the efficacy and benefits of women's self-defense training, understand perspectives opposing self-defense and sexual assault prevention programs, and determine whether a high school setting may be promising to help improve overall gender equality and women's health outcomes.

Methods: A literature review of peer reviewed research published after 1980 was performed in October 2016. The review only included papers available in English and with full-text availability.

Results: There were 57 studies examined for this paper. Overall, self-defense programs were found to be effective in reducing the rates of sexual assault and completed rape. The most effective techniques discussed were forceful physical resistance, non-forceful physical resistance, and forceful verbal resistance. Opposition against self-defense typically believed that women are either not strong enough or more likely to be injured if they fight against their attacker; both viewpoints were demonstrated to be untrue. The research also found that there were other benefits from these programs such as increased self-esteem and reduced rates of self-blame. Finally, the research demonstrated that self-defense programs could be effectively taught in high schools.

Conclusion: High school and college aged females alike face high rates of sexual assault and rape. Therefore, these programs should be taught in high schools as a prevention technique, improving both physical and psychological health outcomes in this vulnerable population.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Open Access

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Comments

To be presented at GW Research Days 2017.

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Assessing the Mental and Physical Health Impacts of Self-Defense Training for Young Women: A Critical Analysis

Background: Women are continuously at risk of being sexually assaulted and even with more stringent laws and increased prevention efforts, the number of assaults has not significantly decreased in the past forty years. This study sought to examine effective and ineffective rape prevention techniques, determine the efficacy and benefits of women's self-defense training, understand perspectives opposing self-defense and sexual assault prevention programs, and determine whether a high school setting may be promising to help improve overall gender equality and women's health outcomes.

Methods: A literature review of peer reviewed research published after 1980 was performed in October 2016. The review only included papers available in English and with full-text availability.

Results: There were 57 studies examined for this paper. Overall, self-defense programs were found to be effective in reducing the rates of sexual assault and completed rape. The most effective techniques discussed were forceful physical resistance, non-forceful physical resistance, and forceful verbal resistance. Opposition against self-defense typically believed that women are either not strong enough or more likely to be injured if they fight against their attacker; both viewpoints were demonstrated to be untrue. The research also found that there were other benefits from these programs such as increased self-esteem and reduced rates of self-blame. Finally, the research demonstrated that self-defense programs could be effectively taught in high schools.

Conclusion: High school and college aged females alike face high rates of sexual assault and rape. Therefore, these programs should be taught in high schools as a prevention technique, improving both physical and psychological health outcomes in this vulnerable population.