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What leads victims to resist? Factors that influence victim resistance in sexual assaults

Samantha Balemba (Department of Criminal Justice, Montana State University – Northern, Havre, Montana, USA)
Eric Beauregard (Department of Criminology, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada)

Journal of Criminal Psychology

ISSN: 2009-3829

Article publication date: 1 August 2019

Issue publication date: 1 August 2019




Victim resistance has been shown to have an important impact on the outcome of sexual assaults. Thus, the factors that affect a victim’s likelihood of various levels of resistance are relevant to consider, given the possibly detrimental effect these actions can have on crime outcome. While not intended to blame the victim in any way, it is important to examine the role the victim plays within a sexually coercive interchange in order to completely understand the sex crime event and, thus, be able to inform potential victims as to the patterns that increase resistance and, potentially, overall violence. The paper aims to discuss this issue.


Sequential logistic regression analyses were conducted on a sample of 613 sex offenses (incorporating both adult and child victims) to examine the individual and combined effects of offender lifestyle, disinhibitors, victim vulnerability, situational impediments and offender modus operandi on victim resistance levels.


Results suggest that indicators of offender mindset are significant, particularly the use of pornography prior to the crime, and affect victim interpretation and response to the offender’s actions during the course of the assault. Other relevant factors include the victim’s age and the degree of violence present in the offender’s approach and subsequent offending strategies.


This information would be helpful to incorporate into victim education programs so that past and future potential victims can better understand the criminal event and the causes and effects of their own actions within that event.



This work was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.


Balemba, S. and Beauregard, E. (2019), "What leads victims to resist? Factors that influence victim resistance in sexual assaults", Journal of Criminal Psychology, Vol. 9 No. 3, pp. 122-137.



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