What You Need to Do When a Sexual Assault is Happening

According to the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network,  someone is sexually assaulted every two minutes. Now I don’t know about you, but that is a very startling statistic for me. To think that we live in the most civilized nation in the world and have stats like that. Even more shocking, it is estimated that 60% of all rapes and sexual assaults go unreported. Sexual assault is one of the most unreported crimes in our nation. Because of this, it is estimated that only about 6% of rapists will ever spend a day in jail. That’s a stat that we need to raise drastically. We need to make sure that all of these animals spend a long time behind bars.

How you present yourself

Be careful about how you dress. Wearing flashy jewelry or revealing clothing will attract attention, especially if you are alone. The point isn’t to completely refrain from wearing any clothing like this, just consider where you’ll be going, the time of day, what kind of neighborhood you’re in, and whether you will be traveling with trusted friends or alone.

Many sexual assaults are committed by someone who the victim knew. It’s important for you to set the tone and dictate to others how you expect them to treat you. Let others know acceptable and unacceptable ways of treating you. It’s OK to be friendly and polite but at the first sign of unacceptable behavior, be firm and make it very clear what your boundaries and guidelines are.

Also, your body language is important. It’s important to understand what messages you are sending to others. Attackers will choose their victim based on who they feel will be an easy target. Make yourself appear confidant and walk with a sense of purpose. Keep your head up and maintain eye contact to keep from appearing timid. The main thing is to avoid looking like a helpless victim, or easy prey.

Be aware of your surroundings

Always be aware of your surroundings, including any people lingering nearby. This means be aware of and identify possible places where you are vulnerable and an attacker can hide and surprise you. Bushes, large vehicles, trash dumpsters or behind buildings. Avoid these areas whenever possible, if not then be vigilant and ready. Choose a path that puts either obstacles or distance between you and an attacker.

Also, avoid talking on your cell phone while walking to and from your vehicle. This tells a potential attacker that you are preoccupied and not paying attention to your surroundings. Even though you may feel safer because you are talking to someone, it’s a distraction and it makes you a target. Instead, carry your phone in your hand so that you can call 911 at the first hint of trouble. If possible, avoid walking alone, especially at night. There is safety in numbers so try to stay in a large group.

Trust your instincts

Women are very intuitive, so trust your intuition, don’t ignore it. There is no penalty for being overly cautious, but the consequences for being careless can be devastating. If you feel a situation might be unsafe then it probably is. Learn to recognize the messages that your body is sending you; goose bumps, heightened heart rate, or just a strange feeling that something isn’t quite right. Don’t allow yourself to feel “silly” or “paranoid”. If you feel uncomfortable about a situation listen to your intuition, it’s one of your most powerful self defense mechanisms that you have. Never be afraid of offending someone because you choose to walk on the opposite side of the street or waited for the next elevator. Trust your gut and go with it.

If you are ever the victim of a sexual assault or rape, it is very important to immediately report the crime to the police. Tell a friend or family member so that it is not kept a secret. There is a much better chance of convicting the rapist if the crime is reported immediately. Do not bathe, shower, or douche. The natural reaction of most rape victims is to clean themselves up because they feel dirty. Don’t do it until you have gone to the hospital and been checked out by a doctor. The doctor can collect all the evidence needed to help prosecute the crime. No matter what the circumstances leading up to your rape, don’t ever think it was your fault. If you did not freely consent on your own, while totally aware of what you were doing, you were raped.