The Role of Psychological Barriers in Women’s Resistance to Sexual Assault by Acquaintances

Jeanette Norris, Tina Zawacki, Kelly Cue Davis, William H. George

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

4 Scopus citations


Women face complex cognitive challenges when faced with sexual aggression by male acquaintances. This chapter reviews the empirical and theoretical literature related to these psychological barriers to forcefully resisting sexual assault. We discuss how the psychological barriers are related to forceful and nonforceful resistance and to immobility. We also examine their relationship to contextual variables, especially alcohol consumption, and to emotional responses at the time of a sexual assault. We also consider how three individual difference variables-sexual victimization history, relationship-related factors, and sexual assertiveness-may predispose some women to experiencing psychological barriers. Finally, we discuss the implications of research findings for risk reduction programs and suggest directions for future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSexual Assault Risk Reduction and Resistance
Subtitle of host publicationTheory, Research, and Practice
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9780128053898
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018


  • Psychological barriers
  • Rape
  • Sexual assault
  • Sexual assault resistance
  • Sexual victimization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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