What is sexual assault?
Sexual assault and abuse is any type of sexual activity that you do not agree to, including:
- Inappropriate touching
- Vaginal, anal, or oral penetration
- Sexual intercourse that you say no to
- Attempted rape
- Child molestation
Sexual assault can be verbal, visual, or anything that forces a person to join in unwanted sexual contact or attention. Examples of this are voyeurism (when someone watches private sexual acts), exhibitionism (when someone exposes him/herself in public), incest (sexual contact between family members), and sexual harassment. It can happen in different situations: in the home by someone you know, on a date, or by a stranger in an isolated place.
Rape is a common form of sexual assault. It is committed in many situations on a date, by a friend or an acquaintance, or when you think you are alone. Educate yourself on date rape drugs. They can be slipped into a drink when a victim is not looking. Never leave your drink unattended no matter where you are. Attackers use date rape drugs to make a person unable to resist assault. These drugs can also cause memory loss so the victim doesn't know what happened.
Rape and sexual assault are never the victim fault no matter where or how it happens.
What do I do if I have been sexually assaulted?
- Get to a safe place.
- Don't bathe, shower, douche, change your clothes, eat, drink, smoke, urinate, brush your teeth, gargle or anything else that might destroy or wash away evidence, including evidence of a drug facilitated sexual assault.
- Seek medical attention for injuries, sexually transmitted infections, HIV and possible pregnancy.
- Contact the police department where the assault occurred if you wish to make a police report.
- If you are unsure about making a police report at this time, evidence can still be collected up to five days following the assault and held for up to 90 days while you decide about reporting.
An Advocate is available 24 hours-a-day to accompany you through all medical, legal and court procedures. An Advocate is someone who has received specialized training in the dynamics of sexual violence and is knowledgeable about assisting victims through the aftermath of a sexual assault. Advocates can provide emotional support and information to you and your significant others, as well as explain your options. All services are free and confidential, and are available regardless of when the assault occurred or whether a victim reports the crime.
How can I lower my risk of sexual assault?
There are things you can do to reduce your chances of being sexually assaulted. Follow these tips from the National Crime Prevention Council.
- Be aware of your surroundings who is out there and what's going on.
- Walk with confidence. The more confident you look, the stronger you appear.
- Know your limits when it comes to using alcohol.
- Be assertive don't let anyone violate your space.
- Trust your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable in your surroundings, leave.
- Don't prop open self-locking doors.
- Lock your door and your windows, even if you leave for just a few minutes.
- Watch your keys. Don't lend them. Don't leave them. Don't lose them. And don't put your name and address on the key ring.
- Watch out for unwanted visitors. Know who's on the other side of the door before you open it.
- Be wary of isolated spots, like underground garages, offices after business hours, and apartment laundry rooms.
- Avoid walking or jogging alone, especially at night. Vary your route. Stay in well-traveled, well-lit areas.
- Have your key ready to use before you reach the door, home, car, or work.
- Park in well-lit areas and lock the car, even if you'll only be gone a few minutes.
- Drive on well-traveled streets, with doors and windows locked.
- Never hitchhike or pick up a hitchhiker.
- Keep your car in good shape with plenty of gas in the tank.
How can I help someone who has been sexually assaulted?
You can help someone who is abused or who has been assaulted by listening and offering comfort. Go with her or him to the police, the hospital, or to counseling. Reinforce the message that she or he is not at fault and that it is natural to feel angry and ashamed.