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Effectiveness of a Sexual Assault Self-Defense Program for American Indian Girls

NCJ Number
Journal of Interpersonal Violence Volume: 37 Issue: 15-16 Dated: 2022 Pages: NP13245–NP1326
Date Published
23 pages

The authors of this study examine the outcomes of a self-defense classroom curriculum for American Indian girls, in an attempt to reduce sexual assault and sexual harassment rates.


This study evaluated the effectiveness of a six-session (12-hour) empowerment self-defense classroom delivered curriculum (i.e., IMpower) among American Indian girls. Seventy four girls in one middle school and two high schools on an Indian Reservation in the Great Plains region of the United States received the intervention and completed a pre-test, and a post-test six months following the final program session. The administered surveys assessed the hypothesized intermediary (i.e., efficacy to resist a sexual assault, self-defense knowledge), primary (i.e., sexual violence victimization), and secondary (i.e., physical dating violence, sexual harassment) outcomes. One hundred eighty-one Native American girls in five middle schools and three high schools in a nearby city where there was no sexual assault prevention occurring completed surveys assessing sexual violence, physical dating violence, and sexual harassment victimization approximately six months apart, thus serving as a comparison to girls in the treatment condition on primary and secondary outcomes. Girls exposed to the IMpower program reported significant increases over time in efficacy to resist a sexual assault and knowledge of effective resistance strategies. Furthermore, propensity score analyses suggested that girls who received the IMpower program reported significantly fewer types of sexual assault and sexual harassment at follow-up compared to girls in the control condition. However, no effect was found for physical dating violence. These data suggest that empowerment self-defense is a promising approach in preventing sexual assault and sexual harassment among American Indian girls. Publisher Abstract Provided

Date Published: January 1, 2022