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UWindsor prof lauded for work to prevent sexual violence against young women

A newly awarded research chair at the University of Windsor could help prevent sexual violence among younger girls and women. That's the hope of Psychology and Gender and Women's Studies professor Charlene Senn.

Charlene Senn's work addresses initiatives have failed to stop perpetration of sexual violence

University of Windsor professor, Charlene Senn, has been awarded a prestigious Canada Research Chair. The funding will go toward researching sexual violence against young women and girls. (Tom Addison/CBC)

A newly awarded research chair at the University of Windsor could help prevent sexual violence among younger girls and women.

That's the hope of Psychology and Gender and Women's Studies professor Charlene Senn.

Her first priority is hiring a post-doctorate fellow who can adapt a training course for girls as young as 14.

"The program that I developed that is effective was developed for first-year women in university, and yet we know that about 50 per cent of all of the women who experience a rape are raped by the time they are 18, which is a shocking statistic," said Senn. 

"So it's really important to go younger."

Her initiative is called the Enhanced Assess Acknowledge Act Education Program and it's geared toward first-year university students, because it is a period of time where students face the highest risk for sexual assault. 

"We need to provide young women with the best knowledge and skills so that they can face that eventuality if that does occur and be better able to effectively detect risk, and act quickly and effectively to be able to get out of that situation with the least amount of harm as possible," said Senn. 

Hear more from Prof. Senn on CBC's Windsor Morning:

A Canada Research Chair is a prestigious and financially rewarding recognition for university professors. And Professor Charlene Senn now has one. She has already decided how she's going to spend the money, at least in the first year. 7:53

Senn said her work addresses the fact that initiatives have failed to stop perpetration of sexual violence. 

The prestigious Canada Research Chair will bring Senn $1.4 million in funding over seven years for that research. The University of Windsor now has eight research chairs, each in a different area of study. 

Senn said the funding is most helpful because it can be adaptive.

"As new things become available as we find out new information I can do another small study with this money," she said.