Not just sticks and stones: Psychological abuse and physical violence among U.S. state senators

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July 15, 2022

Not just sticks and stones: Psychological abuse and physical violence among U.S. state senators

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Not just sticks and stones: Psychological abuse and physical violence among U.S. state senators (Picture: Cambridge)

In this study, we report results of a survey of U.S. state senators about their experiences  of psychological abuse, physical violence, and sexualized abuse and violence on the job, as well as gender differences among senators. Overall, our results indicate that more than 80% of state senators reported having faced abuse and violence, and women senators reported more physical violence than men. Moreover, we found differences in the factors that contributed to abuse and violence among women and men state senators. Most notably, women with higher levels of power (party or committee leaders) were more likely than other women to experience psychological abuse and sexualized abuse and violence, and Democratic women senators faced more sexualized abuse and violence than Republican women. The implications for continued service by state senators in the face of these experiences, the likelihood of attracting future candidates, and the implications for gender diversity in office are explored.  

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Resource type: 
Author: 
Rebekah Herrick and Sue Thomas
Publisher: 
Cambridge
Publication year: 
2022
Partner: 
Inter-Parliamentary Union