The results themselves have filled a gap in relevant research on violence by confirming the introductory statement above, namely, that female students are affected to a higher than average extent by incidents of sexual violence, based on their age and their life circumstances. At the same time, an evaluation of the quantitative and qualitative data clearly shows that, contrary to the facts, the myth of the anonymous male perpetrator attacking women in public spaces in the dark stubbornly persists. The reality – that serious sexual assaults are carried out principally by individuals well known to the victim from their close circle of friends – is thus ignored by the women at the expense of their own safety. This may account for the result that, when assaulted by someone they know, female students often feel partly responsible for it and therefore tend to be reticent to tell anyone about what happened.
Overall, the project´s progress and its outcomes had a significant impact on different aspects:
Research: The elucidation of the research topic with regard to the nature of gender-based violence, stalking and female students’ fear of crime, the establishment of a broad and representative database for this topic, and a comprehensive explanatory model for the topic (including both transnational and culturally specific interpretations).
Research network: The establishment of and participation in a topic-based scientific network of European and US researchers, aimed at discussing, embedding and disseminating the results of the project.
Practice/professionals: The project made an important contribution to raising the awareness of different groups of professionals (stakeholders within the universities as well as those beyond, such as support services, police and the justice system) – in some cases for the first time ever. It got a new discourse going at universities, based on the quantitative and qualitative data available, and prompted the design and implementation of prevention and intervention programmes for reducing victimisation and supporting female student victims.
Universities: The launch of the survey highlighted the question of whether academic institutions, as students’ temporary educational and living environment, should feel responsible for such personal experiences and contribute actively to the prevention of sexual assault in any form. The response of the students to the survey showed that they value such a commitment by the university very highly. This perception enhances the general feeling of well-being at university for students.
Female students: Both the survey itself and the reported outcomes contributed to a greater awareness of a problem thus far largely neglected. It also brought to light the existing and widespread incidents of sexual violence as well as the need for adequate help from the university as an important player