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Harassment and bullying in the theatre industry special report: Sexual assault

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Introduction and analysis Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Useful resources

Following the wide-ranging and ongoing allegations of harassment and abuse in the entertainment industry and beyond, The Stage carried out a survey to determine the scale to which this has affected, and continues to affect, theatre and the performing arts professionals.

It was also intended to investigate whether there were any parts of the industry particularly hard hit.

It was distributed to a database of registered users in November 2017 and was carried out over a 10-day period by 1,755 people with 1,050 people completing all key questions.

It collected the data of those who work, have previously worked, or are training to work in theatre.

Multiple rape incidents and serious sexual assaults reported

Sexual assault is defined as intentional sexual conduct without consent. It is a criminal offence and can be committed by men and women. It is the most serious category in The Stage’s survey.


Sexual assault: the numbers

Eight percent of respondents (81 individuals) to the question on harassment said they had been sexually assaulted.

Sexual assault includes rape, and there were several individual incidences of rape reported to the survey.

Worse for performers and creatives

One in 10 performers and 11% of creatives who told of their experiences said they had been sexually assaulted in the workplace.

Some performers said this had occurred during rehearsals for intimate scenes. Others described situations in which co-workers or fellow performers used seniority or star power to force unwanted sexual contact on others.

Respondents also said they had experienced behaviour they would class as sexual assault following social occasions with colleagues or at parties.

Of those that said they had been sexually assaulted, 11% were students at the time.

Some respondents detailed incidences of sexual assault that occurred when they were under 18.

Little or nothing done about reports of sexual assault

The survey asked respondents about their experiences of reporting inappropriate behaviour. Of those that said they reported incidences of sexual assault, just one out of five saw action taken as a result.

Of respondents that had been sexually assaulted, 64% did not report the behaviour at all. Some said they felt too scared to report it because of the impact it could have on them professionally.

Women made up 67% of the total respondents who said they experienced sexual assault, with men making up 31% and the remaining 2% identifying as gender variant.

Introduction and analysis Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Useful resources

Click here for all The Stage’s coverage of harassment in the theatre industry and advice on who to contact if you or someone you know has been a victim

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