Exploring the Validity of a Modified Version of the SES-SFV with Students Attending Northern Irish Universities

Ngozi Anyadike-Danes, Megan Reynolds, William F. Flack, Jr., Cherie Armour, Susan Lagdon

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Compared to US university students, far less is known about the scale of unwanted and non-consensual sexual experiences [USEs] faced by UK university students, particularly those in Northern Ireland [NI]. The Sexual Experiences Survey (Short Form [SEF-SFV]) is considered a popular tool for measuring USEs but has not been updated since 2007; there is some indication that additional perpetrator tactics may be more inclusive of students’ experiences and that certain scoring strategies may impact our understanding of data. This paper examines the USEs reported by 1033 students attending either of NI’s traditional universities. Participants completed a modified version of the SES-SFV that included two additional perpetration tactics: “ignorance of refusal” and “taken by surprise.” Sixty-three percent (n = 650) reported experiencing at least one USE, but this reduced to 53% (n = 546) without the new perpetrator tactics. Female and non-heterosexual students reported significantly more USEs than male and heterosexual students, respectively. “Taken by surprise” was highly endorsed (81%, n = 525) and the most commonly endorsed tactic. Whilst dichotomous scoring is the most straightforward, continuous scoring affords greater analytical opportunities whilst still retaining frequency of USEs. “Taken by surprise” may be a relevant addition but further mixed-methodological research is required to assess its validity among larger and more diverse samples. SES-SFV scoring options should be also validated using male and mixed-gender samples, particularly categorical scoring to ensure current construction is reflective of the wider student experience.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)114-125
Number of pages12
JournalThe Journal of Sex Research
Issue number1
Early online date30 Sept 2022
Publication statusPublished online - 30 Sept 2022
EventSeen & Heard: Understanding and Responding To Unwanted Sexual Experiences among Students in Northern Ireland and Beyond - The Metropolitan Arts Centre, Belfast, United Kingdom
Duration: 28 Sept 202228 Sept 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Author(s). Published with license by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Author(s). Published with license by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


  • Sexual violence
  • University students
  • Northern Ireland
  • Survey methodology
  • History and Philosophy of Science
  • Gender Studies
  • General Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Heterosexuality
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Universities
  • Students
  • Female
  • Surveys and Questionnaires

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