Sexual Assault Prevention
The Truth About Rape
Rape is about power, control, and anger. Think about the unthinkable. Don't mask the facts about rape with myths and stereotypes. The truths are:
- Rape is an act of violence. It is an attempt to control and degrade using sex as a weapon.
- Rape can happen to anyone - children, students, wives, mothers, working women, grandmothers, the rich and poor, and boys and men.
- Rapists can be anyone - classmates, co-workers, a neighbor or delivery person, ugly or attractive, outgoing or shy, often a friend or family member.
- Rapists commit their crimes again and again until they are caught.
Use Your Head
- Be alert! Walk with confidence and purpose.
- Be aware of your surrounding - know who's out there and what's going on.
- Don't let alcohol or other drugs cloud your judgment.
- Trust your instincts. If a situation or place makes you feel uncomfortable or uneasy, leave!
- Make sure all doors (don't forget sliding glass doors) and windows have sturdy, well-installed locks, and use them! Your doors should be locked at all times, even when you're inside your home. Install a wide-angle peephole in the door. Keep entrances well-lit.
- Never open your door to strangers. Offer to make an emergency call while someone waits outside. Check the identification of any sales or service people before letting them in. Don't be embarrassed to phone for verification.
- Be wary of isolated spots - apartment laundry rooms, underground garages, parking lots, and offices after business hours. Walk with a friend, co-worker, or security guard, particularly at night.
- Know your neighbors, so you have someone to call or go to if you're scared.
- If you come home and see a door or window open, or broken, don't go in. Call the police from a public phone or a neighbor's home.
- Avoid walking or jogging alone, especially at night. Stay in well-traveled, well-lighted areas.
- Wear clothes and shoes that give you freedom of movement.
- Be careful if anyone in a car asks you for directions - if you answer, keep your distance from the car.
- Have your key ready before you reach the door - home, car, or office.
- If you think you're being followed, change direction and head for open stores, restaurants, theaters, or a lighted house.
In Your Car
- Park in areas that will be well-lighted and well-traveled when you return.
- Always lock your car - when you get in and when you get out.
- Look around your car and in the back seat before you get in.
- If your car breaks down, lift the hood, lock the doors, and turn on your flashers. Use a Call Police banner or flares. If someone stops, roll the window down slightly and ask the person to call the police or a tow service.
- Don't hitchhike, ever. Don't pick up a hitchhiker.
When the Unthinkable Happens
How should you handle a rape attempt? It depends on your physical and emotional state, the situation, and the rapist's personality. There are no hard and fast, right or wrong answers. Surviving is the goal.
- Try to escape. Scream. Be rude. Make noise to discourage your attacker from following.
- Talk, stall for time, and assess your options.
- If the rapist has a weapon, you may have no choice but to submit. Do whatever it takes to survive.
- If you decide to fight back, you must be quick, determined, and effective. Target the eyes or groin.
Report rape or any sexual assault to the police. The sooner you tell, the greater the chances the rapist will be caught.
- Preserve all physical evidence. Don't shower, bathe, change clothes, douche, or throw any clothing away until the police or rape counselor says it's okay.
- Go to a hospital emergency room or your own doctor for medical care immediately.
- Don't go alone. Ask a friend or family member to go with you or call a rape crisis center or school counselor.
- Get counseling to help deal with feelings of anger, helplessness, fear, and shame caused by rape. It helps to talk to someone about the rape, whether it happened last night, last week, or years ago.
- Remember, rape is not your fault. Do not accept blame for being an innocent victim.
If Someone You Know Has Been Raped
- Believe her or him.
- Don't blame the victim.
- Offer support, patience, and compassion to help the rape victim work through the crisis, heal, and emerge a survivor.
Taking a Stand
Ask a Neighborhood Watch group, school, employer, church, library, or civic group to organize a workshop on preventing rape. Make sure it addresses the concerns of both men and women.
If you see a TV program or movie that reinforces sexual stereotypes and sends the message that women really like to be raped, protest. Write to the station, the studio, or the sponsors. On the other side, publicly commend the media when they do a great job in depicting the realities of rape.