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Understanding Women’s Experiences of Non-consensual Violence in Sex

Lucy Snow (Mohawk College, Canada)

‘Rough Sex’ and the Criminal Law: Global Perspectives

ISBN: 978-1-80117-929-4, eISBN: 978-1-80117-928-7

Publication date: 7 November 2022


This chapter will seek to add insight on the lived experiences of women subjected to non-fatal, non-consensual violence in sex (NCVS) by men.

The chapter will draw on primary research conducted by the author in the Spring and Summer of 2020, comprising in-depth interviews with eight women and a survey of 84 women, all of whom had experienced NCVS, often from multiple perpetrators. It will summarize the acts to which women were subjected (often life-threatening in nature), the long-term impacts on women, and the ways in which men minimized and re-packaged their violence. It will make the case that NCVS – often dismissed as ‘rough sex gone wrong’ – is a particularly insidious form of violence against women and girls.

The chapter will highlight how women’s sense-making processes around NCVS are often hampered by legal definitions of sexual violence, which left women wondering ‘what category to put it in’. Using Fricker’s (2007) concept on ‘epistemic injustice’, it will emphasize the need for a ‘shared tools of social interpretation’ (p. 6) around NCVS, alongside any legal changes, and the importance of campaigns like We Can’t Consent To This in giving language to women’s often unspoken experiences.



Snow, L. (2022), "Understanding Women’s Experiences of Non-consensual Violence in Sex", Bows, H. and Herring, J. (Ed.) ‘Rough Sex’ and the Criminal Law: Global Perspectives (Feminist Developments in Violence and Abuse), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 133-149.



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