This front page explains what the research is about, how the survey is structured, what happens to the data collected and how that data is stored.  It will take a couple of minutes to read but is important in ensuring that you, as a potential survey respondent, can provide informed consent to participate in this research.  Thank you for reading.


What is this research about?

My name is Dr Natasha Mulvihill and I am Senior Lecturer in Criminology and a researcher in the Centre for Gender and Violence Research.  

I am conducting this anonymous online survey to understand individual experiences of ‘rough sex’.  I am interested specifically in experiences which you felt at the time, or felt later, were not consensual.

There is no agreed definition for ‘rough sex’.  It is a term used in the media and informally in discussion.  I am interested specifically here in unwanted, non-consensual 'rough sex'.

Non-consensual ‘rough sex’ can occur during otherwise consensual sex. For example, a poll conducted in the UK for the BBC (see found that more than a third of 2,002 women sampled aged between 18 and 39 had experienced unwanted slapping, choking, gagging or spitting during consensual sex.

Applied in a non-consensual context, the term ‘rough sex’ is therefore problematic as it might better be identified as physical or sexual assault.  The phrase ‘rough sex’ is used to initiate this research because it is a common cultural reference point, but its limitations are recognised.  There is a question on the appropriateness of this phrase in the survey.

Who can participate?

For this survey, I would welcome responses from anyone aged 18 or over, based in the UK, of any gender or sexuality, who has had one or more experiences of unwanted 'rough sex'.  Your response is anonymous. 

The survey is structured as follows.

  • Part 1: 6 statements ensuring informed consent to participate in the survey
  • Part 2: There are 9 questions asking about your age, gender, ethnicity etc.  These are multiple choice, with the option to add your own answer if you cannot find it in the list provided
  • Part 3: There are 10 questions asking about your experience, your reflection on what happened and what changes you would like to see, for example: to raise awareness, to secure justice or to support others who have had a similar experience

The survey may take around 10-20 minutes to complete, but it may take less or more time, depending on how much you wish to write.  You have the option to save and return to the survey, before submitting.

If you are at risk of ongoing harm, please note the support services listed below.  If you are concerned about online tracking or deleting your web history, please see: or Covering your tracks online - Victim Support

What happens to the data that I provide and what if I decide later that I do not want to participate?

The survey is anonymous, so I do not collect any identifying or contact details.  Only I, as the lead researcher, will have access to the full dataset.

I have two aims in collecting this data:

  • First, I would like to analyse and write (in academic journals, academic blogs, media or professional/practitioner sites or trade journals) about the experiences of survey participants, to raise awareness about harmful experiences in relation to ‘rough sex’.
  • Second, I would like to discuss the findings with relevant professionals.  This might include police, prosecutors, policy-makers or sexual violence educators, for example.  This would be to explore how awareness and professional practice could be improved.  For example, to improve the way police respond to individuals who report assault or other harms in the context of sex that began as consensual.  I hope to secure funding to produce practitioner briefings, which can be disseminated free online for use in training.

In all of these publications, I will directly quote extracts from the survey responses.  Direct voices are always powerful in communicating participants’ experiences.

If you have provided any potentially identifying details in your responses (e.g. places, names of people, names of organisations), I will be careful to edit these out first.

Participation in this survey is entirely voluntary.  You may start to complete this survey and then exit at any time, without submitting your answers.

You also have the right under the 2018 Data Protection Act to remove your data from this survey dataset at any time.

Practically, this would be hard to do because the responses are anonymous.  Therefore, I offer at the start of the survey for you to provide a codeword, which you could quote at a later date, should you wish to submit a request to formally remove your data.  Such requests can be submitted to me at:

However, please note, that it will not be possible to retrospectively remove extracts used from your responses if a publication has already been released.  It would, however, be possible to ensure that your responses were not used in any future publications, planned and written after you submitted your data withdrawal request.

The completed and anonymous survey responses are saved in a secure folder on the University of Bristol server.  You are also given the option in the consent form of agreeing or disagreeing to your anonymised responses being summarised and deposited in the Bristol Data Archive (see: Accessing data in data.bris | Staff | University of Bristol).  This is a repository for other researchers to apply to access and re-analyse study data.


I am not collecting any identifying or contact details and only I, as the lead researcher, will have access to the full dataset.

However, if you tell me that you or somebody else are at risk of serious harm and you also provide me with contact details, then I would have to report that to a relevant authority.


Recalling and recounting difficult experiences can cause emotional distress.  Sometimes, we do not realise we will become upset until we start thinking about an event, writing about it, or reflecting on it afterwards.

You are free simply to exit and not submit a response. I have also included a function to save and return to your response, if needed.

I would also signpost you to the following services should you need further support:

What if I want to read the publications that come out of this research?

Any publications, including practitioner briefings, as well as updates on the project, will be added to my University of Bristol profile page once published.  This is available here: Natasha Mulvihill — University of Bristol

How long is the survey open for?

The survey was launched on 7 February 2022 and will close in early May 2022.

It is planned that related publications will follow from Autumn 2022 into 2023.


Thank you for your interest in this research.

Would you like to proceed to Part 1: Informed Consent? Required