Risk Factors for Sexual Harassment in Public Places

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The aim of the study was to investigate risk factors for victimisation from sexual

harassment in public places. A questionnaire was completed by 591 female university students

in Finland. The mean age was 25.2 years (SD = 7.1). Nonverbal sexual harassment was found to

be the most common type of sexual harassment, followed by physical. The most common place

of victimisation was in a nightclub or bar, and the most common perpetrator was a stranger. The

most common single acts of victimisation were to be stared at with filthy looks and talked to in

an unpleasant sexual way. Victimisation from sexual harassment in public places was

significantly predicted by physical punishment during childhood, victimisation from peer

aggression at school, victimisation from verbal and physical intimate partner aggression, and low

self-esteem. When frequency of sexual harassment was controlled for, emotional distress caused

by sexual harassment correlated significantly with victimisation from verbal intimate partner 

aggression, victimisation from peer aggression at school, and a low self-esteem, suggesting

sensitisation to aggression. In this sample of Finnish university students, the levels of

victimisation from sexual harassment were low. Victimisation from other types of aggression

and low self-esteem were identified as possible risk factors for victimisation from sexual


Keywords. Risk factors, physical, verbal and nonverbal sexual harassment, public places.

Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)329–343
JournalTechnium Social Sciences Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Psychology

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