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Sexual Assault

Sexual assault is considered to be any unwanted sexual contact or action. It is a crime that may be physical or non-physical and is achieved by force, threats, bribes, manipulation, pressure, or violence. Committed by strangers, and more frequently, family and friends, sexual assault includes rape, attempted rape, child molestation, incest, sexual harassment, voyeurism, and exhibitionism.

Myths and Facts about Sexual Assault
  • Victims have done something to cause an assault or rape.
  • Victims rarely know their attackers
  • Most reported rapes are fabricated.
  • Most rapes involve guns or knives.
  • Most date rapes occur spontaneously when things get "out of control."
  • Victims of rape are usually dressed provocatively or are particularly attractive.
  • Most rapes are inter-racial.
  • Most rapes occur in deserted buildings, empty parking lots, etc.
  • Rape is an act of sexual passion.
  • If you are raped, always submit, never fight back physically.
  • If the attacker and victim are drunk, the attacker cannot be charged with rape.
  • No one chooses or deserves to be a victim of sexual violence.
  • In half of all reported rapes, victims have known their assailant. Acquaintance rape is known to be an under-reported of crime.
  • It has been shown that only 2% of reported rapes or sexual assaults are unfounded, the same percentage as other felonies.
  • Rapists more typically use threats or physical force to accomplish the rape.
  • In one study, most date rapists indicated that they expected forced sexual activity as an outcome.
  • Victims are not chosen based on looks or dress but on perceived vulnerability.
  • FBI statistics show that almost 3/4 of sexual assaults is between persons of the same race.
  • Most rapes occur in the victim's home. The next most common location is in a car.
  • Rape is an act of violence, domination, or control.
  • In general, studies have shown that those who respond quickly with active resistance are more likely to avoid being raped. Rapists are looking for someone who is vulnerable, an easy target, and who will not fight back.

Rape is defined as the crime of forcing someone to submit to sexual intercourse. It is one form of sexual assault and can take many forms, including date rape, acquaintance rape, marital rape and stranger rape. Rape is not sex – rather it is a crime motivated by the attacker’s need to control, humiliate and harm.

According to one survey, almost 133,000 women were the victims of rape or attempted rape each year. Women raped by someone they knew constituted 55 percent of the reported rapes, and 45 percent were by strangers. Yet, rape is a seriously under-reported crime. It is important for the victim to know it is not her fault. Her immediate need is survival. Her short-term need is to be safe and to recover – to develop coping mechanisms and a network of support – an emotional action plan.

The “Date Rape Drug”

Rohypnol, generically called flunitrazepam, is known for its abuse as a "date rape" drug. Rohypnol is prescribed as a sleeping pill in countries outside of the United States. Rohypnol use has been reported on every inhabited continent. It is often used in conjunction with other drugs. It is usually taken orally, but can be snorted. The most common pattern of use is by teenagers and young adults as an alcohol extender in an attempt to create a dramatic "high" most often in combination with beer, or as a drug to incapacitate a victim before a sexual assault. It is also often used in combination with other drugs, such as heroin, cocaine, and alcohol.

Common names for Rohypnol include the following: rophies, roofies, R2, roofenol, Roche, roachies, la rocha, rope, rib, circles, Mexican valium, roach-2, roopies, and ropies. A similar drug is known as clonazepam (Klonopin in the U.S. and Rivotril in Mexico.)

Safety Tips and Taking Action

To keep yourself safe in an unfamiliar place, it’s important to be mindful of your situation at all times and reduce your risks.

  • Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Trust your instincts – if a situation feels uncomfortable – take the safest exit.
  • Don't allow yourself to be isolated with someone you don't know or trust.
  • Lock all car doors, especially when traveling alone.
  • Request a security escort to your car – don’t hesitate and don’t apologize!
  • Think about the level of intimacy you want in a relationship, and clearly state your limits.
  • 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 or rape crisis center. The quicker you report this, the more likely the attacker will be caught.
  • Your body and the area where the attack occurred are a crime scene. Preserve all physical evidence. Don't shower, bathe, change clothes, douche, or throw any clothing away unless advised by the police or rape counselor.
  • Go to a hospital emergency room for medical care immediately. Bring a change of clothing, as the clothes you were wearing during the attack may be kept for evidence.
  • Don't go alone if you can help it. 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 the attack was last night, last week, or years ago.
  • Do not accept blame for being an innocent victim.
  • For referral to local resources, call the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN). www.rainn.org; toll-free 1-800-656-HOPE (4673). This non-profit organization provides the only national toll-free hotline for victims of sexual assault. The hotline provides referrals 24 hours a day. It does not provide direct counseling. Every call is confidential and no records of individual callers are saved.
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