Strangers in the night: Women's fear of sexual assault on urban college campuses

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Sexual assault and fear of assault plague women students on U.S. college campuses. This study investigates women's fear of sexual assault on campus, using findings from participant photography and open-ended interviews with 38 women students at two midwestern, urban universities. Personal, physical, and social cues for women's fear are described and explained. Three primary types of fear emerge: fear of stranger assault by surprise or entrapment; fear of strange people and places; and fear of incivil or norm-violating behavior. Disparities between fear and actual sexual assault support a model of fear as social control over women's use of public space. Recommendations address future research, campus planning, and crime prevention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)289-312
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Architectural and Planning Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Architecture
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Urban Studies


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