The study “Sexual Violence at the Lisbon Academy - Prevalence and Perception of Students”, was conducted by the Lisbon Academic Federation (FAL) between 2018 and 2019 with the “observant cooperation” of three institutions that work to support victims of violence: the Portuguese Victim Support Association (APAV); Break the silence; and Alternative Women’s Union and Response (UMAR).

In the introduction of the study, FAL explains that its objective is to “approach the theme of sexual violence on the student population of its territorial scope” - the Lisbon metropolitan area - and that it intended to do so by analysing three dimensions: the students’ perception of what constitutes or does not constitute sexual violence; the feeling of security and perception of risks associated with higher education attendance; and the prevalence with which situations of violence occur.

From the 18-question survey, which was addressed to 1,052 students aged between 17 and 30, it was found that many students had been victims of sexual violence at least once.

Physical sexual violence, which involves abuse, coercion and rape, is one of the crimes with the fewest reported cases, yet 34.2 percent of the students surveyed identified experiencing related crimes, of which 12.2 percent stated that these crimes had occurred to them more than once.

The answers to the questions, which can be grouped into three domains - physical, emotional, or sexual harassment - also reveal that situations of emotional violence have the highest prevalence among college students.

Being the subject of provocative comments of a sexual nature, or experiencing discomfort are the emotionally impacted sexual harassment situations addressed in the survey, which were already experienced by about 80 percent of the students.

Most (61.4 percent) also stated that they had already been the victim of sexual harassment, either in person, with exhibitionism, for example, or receiving unwanted sexual contact, messages or photographs. For 38.1 percent these situations happened more than once.

The study also indicates that 89 percent of the students never told or reported having been victims of sexual violence and when they did, they mainly addressed the police (39.53 percent) or friends and family (about 35 percent).

Only 11.63 percent of the cases were reported to the higher education institution.

The perpetrators were found to be mostly acquaintances (32.58 percent) or students’ colleagues (23.29 percent), but also included non-teaching staff from the institutions (16.74 percent) and teaching staff (2.18 percent) and friends (11.44 percent).