Current phase of the research:
A randomized controlled trial evaluation of the Enhanced AAA Sexual Assault Resistance program on three Canadian university campuses. Funded by 2011-2016 Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Operating grant. Co-investigators on the project are Paula Barata and Ian Newby-Clark at the University of Guelph, and Wilfreda Thurston and Misha Eliasziw at the University of Calgary. Recruitment of over 900 women has been completed and 12, 18, and 24 month follow-ups are in progress. See published open access protocol for more detail [BMC Women's Health.2013, 13:25. DOI: 10.1186/1472-6874-13-25].
This research is the culmination of research begun in 2004. The Basic Assess, Acknowledge, Act (AAA) program was developed based on Patricia Rozee and Mary Koss' (2001) review article which suggested a new direction for rape resistance education for women. The program was carefully developed to reduce woman-blaming/self-blaming attitudes and beliefs and is successful in achieving that goal (see Senn, Gee, & Saunders, 2008). The program was piloted, evaluated, and revised in 2005-2006 (CIHR Operating Grant). An enhanced version of the AAA program adding an emancipatory sexuality education unit (adapted from the Our Whole Lives Sexuality Education program) was then experimentally evaluated against the basic version of the AAA program and a no-program control (Ontario Women's Health Council Career Award). The basic program is effective in increasing women's perception of their personal risk, decreasing woman-blaming beliefs, increasing confidence that they could defend themselves against acquaintance and stranger sexual assault, and increasing their knowledge and application of effective self-defense strategies. Consistently across studies, the completed sexual assault rate for women who took the program was reduced by more than 50% of that experienced by women who did not, although there was insufficient power for traditional significance testing. The enhanced program also decreased time to detect danger in hypothetical scenarios. Most of these effects were maintained to three and/or six months (see Senn, Gee, & Thake, 2011 for more details). The Basic AAA program also has demonstrated promise with girls 16 years or older in high school (see Senn, 2012).
A reflection piece on the complex process of developing and evaluating the program while trying to maintain my feminist goals was published in Feminism & Psychology (Senn, 2011).
In collaboration with Dr. Anne Forrest, Director of Women's Studies a number of studies are in progress evaluating the effectiveness of our campus Bystander Initiative. See www.uwindsor.ca/bystander and the Psynopsis article we wrote (Senn & Forrest, 2013) for more detail about the Bystander Initiative.
I work with graduate and undergraduate students to publish their research findings whenever possible.