Female university students who completed 12 hours of training on resisting sexual assaults experienced far fewer rapes and attempted rapes, according to a new Canadian study.

The study involved 893 female Canadian students who were either given the training -- known as the Enhanced Assess Acknowledge Act Sexual Assault Resistance Program (EAAA) -- or formed a control group where they were asked to read brochures.

One year later, those who took the EAAA had experienced 46 per cent fewer completed rapes (5.2 per cent versus 9.8 per cent) and 63 per cent fewer attempted rapes (3.4 per cent versus 9.3 per cent) than the control group.

Charlene Senn, a University of Windsor women’s studies professor and notable sexual assault expert, was the lead researcher in the study, which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

"What this means in practical terms is that enrolling 22 women in the EAAA resistance program would prevent one additional rape from occurring,” Senn said.

Sarah Oszter, 24, took the program during the second year of her psychology and criminology degree at the University of Windsor, in order to get class credit.

“The greatest thing that I took away was the self-defence training,” she said, adding she learned physical methods to get a person off of her in the event of a sexual assault.

Oszter said she also learned how common sexual assault is on university campuses, and skills such as how to spot the body language of someone who may be in danger.

“Whether it’s a woman or a man,” she said, “I think somebody should always step in if somebody looks like they’re in danger.”

Oszter said she also learned while the resistance training focused on how women can prevent assault, rape is not the victim’s fault so men also need training.

The chance of a woman being assaulted during four years at university is estimated at between 20 and 25 per cent over a four-year period, according to the study.

The study involved students and researchers from the University of Guelph, the University of Calgary and the University of Windsor.

Here is a summary of the four units taught during EAAA, as outlined in the journal article:

  • Assess: This unit focused on improving women’s assessment of the risk of sexual assault by male acquaintances and developing problem-solving strategies to reduce perpetrator advantages.
  • Acknowledge: This unit assisted women in more quickly acknowledging the danger in situations that have turned coercive, explored ways to overcome emotional barriers to resisting the unwanted sex, and practiced resisting verbal coercion.
  • Act: This unit offered instruction about and practice of effective options for resistance, including two hours of self-defence training based on Wen-Do Women’s Self-Defence.
  • Sexuality and Relationships: This unit provided sexual information, including the slang and scientific terms for a wide range of possible sexual activities, safer-sex practices and strategies for sexual communication.