Risky residences: An exploratory study of sexual violence in university halls of residence
Sexual violence within university populations is a well-known problem, however relatively little is known about the experience of sexual violence among New Zealand university students. There is even less known about women‟s experiences of sexual violence occurring in university halls of residence. This thesis addresses this gap in knowledge and understanding. Influenced by feminist perspectives and adopting a qualitative framework, this research employed semi-structured face-to-face interviews with four victims/survivors of sexual violence in university halls, and six key informants who work with students living in student accommodation or at the wider university. This study found that sexual violence occurring in halls had devastating impacts for women, affecting their personal, emotional, social and academic worlds. Further, this study also found that women were unlikely to disclose through formal channels such as the Police, but disclosure to informal supports was common. As well as this, data suggested that responding to sexual violence in this context is complex, as the needs of both alleged victims and alleged perpetrators must be carefully balanced. This complexity has meant that current responses to sexual violence are in many ways reactive rather than proactive and need to be comprehensively developed to respond to the unique challenges provided within the university environment. The findings from this study support the development of robust sexual violence response processes and the widespread delivery of education about sexual violence among university students, as well as for those charged with managing students‟ welfare.