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Young women see sexual assault as normal: US study

Many girls who are sexually assaulted may not see themselves as victims, according to a new US study that found most young women do not report acts of sexual violence because they regard them as “normal”.

Sociologist Heather Hlavka at Marquette University, US analysed forensic interviews conducted by Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) with 100 youths between the ages of three and 17 who may have been sexually assaulted.

The findings reveal that girls and young women rarely reported incidents of abuse because they regarded sexual violence against them as normal. According to the Rape, Abuse; Incest National Network (RAINN), 60 per cent of sexual assaults are not reported to police, researchers said.

Hlavka found that the young women experienced forms of sexual violence in their everyday lives including: sexual harassment, objectification, and abuse. Often times they rationalised these incidents as normal.

During one interview, referring to boys at school, a 13 year-old girl states: “They grab you, touch your butt and try to, like, touch you in the front, and run away, but it’s okay, I mean…I never think it’s a big thing because they do it to everyone.”

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