The presence of sexual violence in neighborhoods erodes feelings of safety for women—but not men

January 10, 2018, Case Western Reserve University
The presence of sexual violence in neighborhoods erodes feelings of safety
Dana M. Prince. Credit: CWRU

Feelings about the frequency of rape or other forms of sexual assault in a neighborhood are significantly tied to women's—but not men's—perceptions of its safety, according to new research.

However, both men and women report feeling less safe in their based on the presence of other violence, including weapon-based fights, robberies, muggings and gang fights.

"Our results indicate that men can become more aware of how women feel about what contributes to and threatens their safety," said Dana M. Prince, an assistant professor at the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University and a co-author of the study. "Sexual and gendered violence affects all people, and everyone can be partners in ending ."

Neighborhoods play a key role in the behavior and development of people, previous studies show, and some conditions—such as crime, segregation, poverty and disorder—can have on health.

"Feeling unsafe, especially in and around your home, can erode physical and mental health," Prince said. "When women carry around fears of , it harms their well-being."

The study, published in the Journal of Community Psychology, was based on interviews with nearly 350 adults in nine neighborhoods in a major American city with high rates of poverty, unemployment and crime. Participants were asked how often particular crimes occurred in their neighborhood in the past six months.

"Our results could mean men are less aware of sexual , or perhaps they do not feel comfortable reporting that it makes them feel less safe—perhaps both—while women tend to be socialized early on to be aware of the possibility of sexual attack," said Prince.

Explore further: New study examines sexual violence against college women with disabilities

More information: Erin E. Hoffman et al. Neighborhood sexual violence moderates women's perceived safety in urban neighborhoods, Journal of Community Psychology (2017). DOI: 10.1002/jcop.21917

Related Stories

New study examines sexual violence against college women with disabilities

May 15, 2017
Patterns of sexual violence and intimate partner violence aimed at female college students with a mental health-related or behavioral disability and the health effects of this abuse are presented in a new study published ...

Study finds higher rates of sexual violence among bisexual women

November 15, 2017
While sexual harassment and sexual violence have been pervasive problems for women over the course of history, a recent study has uncovered that bisexual women specifically experience sexual violence more often than straight ...

Study links child abuse, high school dropout

December 1, 2017
Children who have been victims of violence are more likely to drop out of high school before graduation than their peers, according to a new study co-authored by a Duke scholar.

Timely research on barriers for male victims of sexual violence

December 21, 2017
As the #metoo conversation continues, another group of victims is being recognized: men. A recently published paper in the American Journal of Men's Health shows that some men who have experienced sexual violence are hesitant ...

Researchers find campus sexual violence significantly affects academics

September 6, 2017
Sexual assault on a college campus can cause a considerable number of physical and emotional issues for the victim. While much needed programs, and past studies, have predominately focused on the mental health effects of ...

Recommended for you

Intensive behavior therapy no better than conventional support in treating teenagers with antisocial behavior

January 19, 2018
Research led by UCL has found that intensive and costly multisystemic therapy is no better than conventional therapy in treating teenagers with moderate to severe antisocial behaviour.

Babies' babbling betters brains, language

January 18, 2018
Babies are adept at getting what they need - including an education. New research shows that babies organize mothers' verbal responses, which promotes more effective language instruction, and infant babbling is the key.

College branding makes beer more salient to underage students

January 18, 2018
In recent years, major beer companies have tried to capitalize on the salience of students' university affiliations, unveiling marketing campaigns and products—such as "fan cans," store displays, and billboard ads—that ...

Inherited IQ can increase in early childhood

January 18, 2018
When it comes to intelligence, environment and education matter – more than we think.

Modulating molecules: Study shows oxytocin helps the brain to modulate social signals

January 17, 2018
Between sights, sounds, smells and other senses, the brain is flooded with stimuli on a moment-to-moment basis. How can it sort through the flood of information to decide what is important and what can be relegated to the ...

Baby brains help infants figure it out before they try it out

January 17, 2018
Babies often amaze their parents when they seemingly learn new skills overnight—how to walk, for example. But their brains were probably prepping for those tasks long before their first steps occurred, according to researchers.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.