A Qualitative Study on University Students' Perceptions Regarding Sexual Violence Perpetrated by Women Against Men

Leonor de Oliveira, Eunice Carmo, Daniel Cardoso, Nélio Brazão, Mária Viegas, Rita Vespasiano, Joana Carvalho

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sexual violence (SV) perpetrated by women against men is socially dismissed and underrepresented in research. The aim of the current study was to explore the perspectives of university students (women and men) on women-perpetrated SV against men.

A total of 19 undergraduate students were presented with a vignette describing a hypothetical situation of SV and interviewed.

A thematic analysis was performed, identifying four main themes: characters’ Features, sexual initiation Strategies, Consequences, and Motivations and Contexts. Participants endorsed gender stereotypes and victim-blaming narratives, but also challenged gender stereotypes and rape myths. Participants could identify violent sexual initiation strategies, could anticipate potential consequences of the abuse, and were able to imagine potential motivational and contextual factors that facilitated the abuse.

These results highlight the importance of providing adequate information regarding women-perpetrated SV and can inform preventative approaches targeting social norms that perpetuate the invisibility of this phenomenon. Recommendations for future research are discussed.

Policy Implications
Public policies that facilitate the training of professionals who contact with victims may help overcome the influence of rape myths that hinder appropriate intervention. Similarly, policies that support the prevention of SV in university contexts may contribute to translate the results from research into practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)446-464
Number of pages19
JournalSexuality Research and Social Policy
Issue number1
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Sept 2023


  • Rape myths
  • Sexual violence
  • Social scripts
  • Thematic analysis
  • University students


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