Public's attitudes to sexual consent
December 1st, 2018, YouGov

Public's attitudes to sexual consent

The End Violence Against Women Coalition commissioned YouGov to conduct research to explore the public's perception of sexual violence against women and girls.

Method and results

The project used both quantitative and qualitative methods. First, we ran an online survey with a nationally representative sample of up to 3,922 GB adults drawn from the YouGov panel. We then recruited people who took part in the survey to participate in three online focus groups (two with women and one with men). The participants represented a wide range of demographics and were from different locations, working status, marital status, and held various views which had been identified in the quantitative survey.

The survey results were explored in more detail during the focus groups and the overall findings showed that:

  • A third (33%) of people in Britain think it isn’t usually rape if a woman is pressured into having sex but there is no physical violence.
  • A third of men think if a woman has flirted on a date it generally wouldn’t count as rape, even if she hasn’t explicitly consented to sex (compared with 21% of women).
  • A third of men also believe a woman can’t change her mind after sex has started.
  • Almost a quarter (24%) think that sex without consent in long-term relationships is usually not rape.
  • 'Stealthing': 40% think it is never or usually not rape to remove a condom without a partner’s consent.
  • Around one in 10 people aren’t sure or think it usually or definitely isn’t rape if a man has sex with a woman who is very drunk or asleep.
  • There seems to be a generation divide as more than a third (35%) of over 65s think that in most cases it isn’t rape to have non-consenting sex with your wife or partner, compared to just 16% of 16-24s. Just over four in ten (42%) over 65s generally think that in most cases if a woman changes her mind halfway through but the sex continues, it isn’t rape. This is compared with just 22% of the 25-49s.
  • 60% of people think that free counselling services are available to victims of rape.

This research shows that confusion and myths about rape are still very common. It also reveals that victims won’t necessarily be given the support they need if the rape they experience isn’t understood as harmful or even as rape.


Client Testimonial

“The expert team at YouGov helped us develop a research programme which increased our understanding of attitudes which underpin the public’s response to sexual violence, attitudes which may have an impact on juries' decisions and the support victims get from their friends and family”

Rachel Krys - Co-director, End Violence Against Women Coalition

About the brand

End Violence Against Women is a leading coalition of specialist women’s support services, researchers, activists, survivors and NGOs working to end violence against women and girls in all its forms.

Solution delivered by: Custom Research (Political and Qualitative)