The New England Journal of Medicine just published the results of a rigorous study of first-year female students at three universities in Canada. About half (451) took a self-defense course and the other half (442) received the more common method of brochures about sexual assault. Participation in the self-defense course significantly reduced the risk of rape.
These findings are consistent with earlier studies that have found that girls and women who take self-defense are less likely to experience sexual assault. Jocelyn Hollander, University of Oregon, studied approximately 300 college students, about half of whom took a self-defense course and about half who didn’t, following up with them a year later. Stanford School of Medicine along with Lurie Packard Children’s Hospital and NO Means No Worldwide studied over 400 girls in Kenya before and 10 months after taking a self-defense course. In both cases, women and girls who had self-defense training experienced substantially lower rates of sexual assault. These findings are consistent with Sarah Ullman’s review of a decade of self-defense research that active resistance is effective in interrupting sexual assault.