Sexual Assault

Sexual Assault
September 23, 2010 Kim Goldman

Sexual assault is any unwanted sexual contact or sexual intention committed by force, threats of violence, bribes, manipulation, pressure or violence. It includes rape and attempted rape, child molestation and incest. Sexual assault is a crime of violence, anger and control. Assailants can be strangers, acquaintances, friends or family members.

Research indicates that 1 out of every 3 women, 1 out of every 9 men, and 1 out of every 4 children is sexually assaulted.

If you have been sexually assaulted

  • Go to a safe place and call someone you trust. If you don’t want to tell someone you know right now, call the RAINN Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.
  • Preserve the evidence. Do not change anything about the scene where the assault occurred. Do not wash any part of your body, comb your hair or change your clothes. If you must change your clothes, put them in a plastic bag.
  • Get medical attention as soon as possible. It is important to be examined medically to detect injury and for possible protection against sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Think about reporting the assault to the police. Telling the police does not mean that you have to prosecute.
  • If you do want to prosecute, it is essential to have a rape exam at a hospital emergency room soon after the assault. To increase your options later, this exam is recommended, even if you are unsure about prosecuting.
  • Remember, the assault is not your fault.

How you might feel

Following a sexual assault, you might feel:

  • Shock
  • Embarrassment
  • Shame
  • Guilt
  • Disbelief
  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Nothing at all

These feelings are all normal reactions to a violent crime.

Take These Precautions

  • First and foremost, think ahead of time about how you would react if you were assaulted.
  • Trust your feelings. If you feel that you are in danger, you probably are.
  • Walk confidently. Be aware of your surroundings. · Stay in well lighted areas.
  • If you find yourself in danger, yell “FIRE.”
  • Check your car before getting in. Keep doors locked and windows up. Before approaching your car, look underneath it at a distance. Sometimes attackers lay underneath the car.
  • Do not pick up hitchhikers.
  • Learn to defend yourself.
  • Do not stop to assist stalled drivers. Drive on and call the police. Do not accept assistance if your car is stalled. Tell anyone who offers help to call the police.

Facts and Myths About Sexual Assault

Myth: Rape is sex
Fact: Rape is not sex. It is a crime motivated by a need to control, humiliate and harm. Rapists use sexual violence as a weapon to hurt and dominate others.

Myth: Women ask to be raped.
Fact: The way people look, act or dress does not invite sexual assault. Victims are selected because they appear vulnerable. Sexual assault is an act of violence.

Myth: Rapists are lonely, sexually unfulfilled men.
Fact: Studies of convicted male rapists indicate that more than 60% were married and virtually all had normal sexual relationships with women at the time they committed the assault.

Myth: Boys and men cannot be sexually assaulted.
Fact: Almost as many boys as girls will be sexually assaulted by age eighteen. One in nine men will be sexually assaulted as an adult.

Myth: No one can be sexually assaulted against her or his will.
Fact: Most adult victims, even those who are not phusically harmed, fear injury and death during a sexual assault. Children who are assaulted are often confused, unable to question the power and authority of the abuser, and do not know how to get help.

Advice for Guys

  • Think about whether you really want to have sex with someone who doesn’t want to have sex with you; how will you feel afterwards if your partner tells you he or she didn’t want to have sex.
  • If you are getting a double message from a woman, speak up and clarify what she wants. If you find yourself in a situation with a woman who is unsure about having sex or is saying “no”, do not go any further.
  • Be sensitive to a person who is unsure whether or not they want to have sex. If you put pressure on them, you might be forcing them.
  • Stay in touch with your sexual desires. Ask yourself if you are really hearing what she wants.
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