The Enhanced Assess, Acknowledge, Act (EAAA) Sexual Assault Resistance Education Program is a program for first year enrolled university women that focuses on and prepares them for the statistical reality that a man they know may attempt to sexually assault them in a familiar social setting.
The program is designed to help women overcome the unique emotional and cognitive barriers associated with acquaintance sexual assault so that they have the ability to acknowledge risk early and are equipped with the skills to protect themselves.
The program consists of four 3-hour units delivered to small groups that involve mini-lectures, facilitated discussion, games and practice activities. The four units (Assess, Acknowledge, Act and Sexuality & Relationships) focus on improving women’s assessment of the risk of acquaintance sexual assault, developing problem-solving strategies, increasing resistance skills and encouraging sexual communication.
The program is designed to be delivered by two female facilitators that are seen as expert peers to the program participants. Facilitators must undergo an eight day training and dress rehearsal led by a qualified Campus/Community Trainer before delivering the program to participants.
The qualifying study was a randomized controlled trial conducted from September 2011 to February 2013. The study recruited 916 first-year female students from three Canadian colleges and randomly assigned them to an intervention or control group.
The intervention group received all four units of the EAAA program while the control subjects were invited by a research assistant to take, read and discuss brochures on sexual assault. All participants completed surveys at baseline, one week after program completion, six months after baseline, and twelve months after baseline in which they reported on completed rape, attempted rape, attempted coercion, coercion, and non-consensual sexual contact.
The benefits of the program occurred early and its efficacy was sustained throughout the one-year follow-up period. Relative to the control group, the intervention group showed significantly fewer completed rapes, attempted rapes, attempted coercion and non-consensual sexual contact.
Though an eighteen and twenty-four month follow-up is forthcoming, initial one-year results are important as the risk of sexual assault is highest during the first few years of college enrollment. The Blueprints committee has determined that the EAAA program is suitable for all racial, ethnic and sexual identity categories.