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An exploratory study on the beliefs about gender-based violence held by incoming undergraduates in England

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A growing body of research indicates that gender-based violence is a public health problem for UK universities. To date, there is a paucity of knowledge about beliefs regarding gender-based violence among UK university students and how receptive they are to help change university culture by participating in prevention programmes. This article uses findings from the first cross-sectional study in England that measured beliefs, including rape and domestic violence and abuse (DVA) myth acceptance, and readiness for change. A survey was given to 381 incoming undergraduate students attending a university in the South West of England. The findings suggest that men endorse rape and DVA myths more than women. Rape myths were associated with DVA myths and further analyses indicated that the subscales He didn't mean to and It wasn't really rape predicted DVA myths. Denial of the problem of sexual violence and DVA was predicted by myth endorsement but assuming responsibility for change was not. These findings provide insight into the particular myths held by incoming undergraduates and how they operate together to scaffold gender-based violence in university settings. Rape and DVA myths need to be targeted in the development of effective prevention programmes in English Universities.

Key Messages

• Rape and DVA myths need to be targeted in effective prevention programming in English universities.

• Incoming undergraduate men endorse rape myths and DVA myths more than women and rape myths are associated with DVA myths.

• Denial of the problem of sexual violence is related to rape and DVA myths and these are significant predictors of denial.
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Document Type: Research Article

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Publication date: December 2017

More about this publication?
  • The Journal of Gender-Based Violence (JGBV), is the first international journal based in Europe to show case the work of scholars across disciplinary and topic boundaries, and from a range of methodologies.

    The journal acknowledges both the breadth of gender-based violence (GBV) and its links to gendered inequalities. It aims to continue to document the voices and experiences of victims and survivors of GBV, to publish work regarding those who perpetrate GBV and of the varied and complex social structures, inequalities and gender norms through which GBV is produced and sustained. The journal recognises the intersection of gender with other identities and power relations, such as ethnicity, nationality, sexuality, faith, disability and economic status.

    JGBV will publish high quality papers that contribute to understanding of GBV, policy, and/or activism, on sexual violence, domestic abuse, ‘honour’-based violence, prostitution, trafficking and/or reproductive violence and abuse in a wide range of intimate, familial, community and societal contexts.

    The editors invite interest from scholars working across the social sciences and related fields including social policy, sociology, politics, criminology, law, social psychology, development and economics, as well as disciplines allied to medicine, health and wellbeing.

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