Student perspectives on the normalisation of sexual assault within Huddersfield


Statistics show the increasing threat Sexual Assault (hereafter referred to as SA) poses within contemporary society. The student population is disproportionately affected by SA, yet there is limited research on students’ attitudes surrounding the topic within the UK. This study aims to address gaps in current research on SA, by using qualitative methods to understand student attitudes towards the normalisation of SA within two different geographical settings. Focus groups were conducted with a total of 15 participants, with themes emerging around ‘excuses’, ‘risk’ and ‘acceptance’. All three themes were found to contribute to the normalisation of SA, with feminist perspectives, crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED) and alcohol influencing the themes, and supporting the findings generated from the literature review. SA was found to be overall normalised within the student population, more so in a nightclub setting (hereafter referred to as a club) than an outdoor university setting (University Plaza). The research both generated ideas towards why SA has become more normalised and what can be done to combat the normalisation of SA. However, more research needs to be conducted into student attitudes towards SA across the UK to make the results more generalisable to the student population, identifying at-risk settings and negative attitudes towards SA. The research is integral not only to shaping future interventions but also to identifying current interventions that are failing or why certain interventions are not already in place which is extremely problematic. It aims to tackle SA successfully, improving the safety of students and the general public.


Sexual Assualt, Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design, Gender Scripts, Feminist Theory

How to Cite

St. Barbe, K. M., (2023) “Student perspectives on the normalisation of sexual assault within Huddersfield”, Fields: journal of Huddersfield student research 9(1). doi:


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Katie Margaret St. Barbe (University of Huddersfield)





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This article has been peer reviewed.

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