Fear to Retaliation: The Most Frequent Reason for Not Helping Victims of Gender Violence


  • Patricia Melgar University of Girona
  • Gemma Geis-Carreras University of Girona
  • Ramon Flecha University of Barcelona
  • Marta Soler University of Barcelona




Second Order of Sexual Harassment, Solidarity Networks, Gender-Based Violence, Help, Witnesses


When faced with situations of gender-based violence, one becomes exposed to risk in giving support to the victim (van Reemst, Fischer, & WC Zwirs, 2015, Hamby, Weber, Grych, & Banyard, 2016; Liebst, Heinskou & Ejbye-Ernst, 2018). This form of violence, second order of sexual harassment (SOSH), occurs when people who support victims of gender-based violence experience violence themselves because of this positioning (Vidu et al., 2017; Flecha, 2021). There is little research on the subject. Through a quantitative study carried out with 1541 Spaniards over 18 years of age, we provide, for the first time, quantitative evidence of the incidence of SOSH in the responses of people who have been aware of a situation of gender-based violence. Our results show that SOSH is an important obstacle; 40% of people who did not offer help in the case of gender-based violence did not do so for reasons that correspond to SOSH.

We concluded that the fear of suffering SOSH can condition people’s reactions in the environment, thereby limiting the possibility of female victims of violence receiving help.


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2021-05-17 — Updated on 2021-07-30

How to Cite

Melgar, P., Geis-Carreras, G., Flecha, R., & Soler, M. (2021). Fear to Retaliation: The Most Frequent Reason for Not Helping Victims of Gender Violence. International and Multidisciplinary Journal of Social Sciences, 10(2), 31–50. https://doi.org/10.17583/rimcis.2021.8305