Love Doesn't Have To Hurt
All About Sexual Assault – The Basics
· Sexual assault is “sexual contact without consent.”
· It is important to ask for consent before going further sexually with someone – one cannot assume that his/her partner is “giving signals” that it’s OK.
· There are varying degrees of assault, but assault is still assault – consent must be given when engaging in physically intimate acts.
· As a relationship progresses from the first kiss on, it’s important to continue asking for permission to take the next steps that follow the first kiss.
· Part of being in a successful relationship is knowing the other person’s zones of comfort.
· Body language is not an accurate indicator of a person’s feelings. A person can’t rely on the “look” that his/her date is giving to gauge feelings and desires.
· When in doubt, ask your date how he/she is doing- it’s the best way to know how he/she is feeling. Even asking your date for permission to kiss him/her is the recommended course of action.
· Gender roles can be defied in the world of dating – it’s perfectly acceptable for a woman to assert herself and ask for a kiss, or for a man to make sure it’s okay to kiss his date before taking any action. Both genders appreciate it when their dates are considerate of how they feel.
· Generally, men feel that asking a woman for a kiss shows lack of masculinity. However, women find this gesture romantic and respectful.
· Not asking if it’s acceptable to go further with your partner sexually can result in sexual assault, even among those who feel that they would never be the type to commit a sexual assault.
· Sexual assault is a vile and horrifying experience for anyone to think about or experience. Men tend to struggle to see the horror in sexual assault. These are advised to think of male-on-male assault and the disgust that it invokes in them each time any kind of assault is addressed in their presence.
· Many victims of assault tend to not seek out help because they fear their ordeals will be made public to others or they see getting help as a sign of weakness. Both of these statements are false.
· Rape crisis centers, assault coalitions and crisis hotlines are excellent sources of support for victims of sexual assault and their friends/family members.
· Many assailants tend to blame the victim in a sexual assault situation because the victim is portrayed as having “asked for it” or was labeled a “tease” by the assailant. Many non-involved parties will also side with the assailant because he doesn’t seem like the kind of person that would ever assault someone – or they don’t want to believe that the person could be capable of such behavior.
· If you know someone who has been sexually assaulted, it’s important to help them seek out the proper resources and to let him/her know that you will always be there to assist in any way possible.
· When someone concedes to engaging in an intimate behavior because he/she fears the repercussion from resisting the assailant’s advances, it is NOT considered consent.
· Assailants also use diversionary tactics to get their way, i.e. reverting to an approved form of intimacy and then trying again to move further after the partner is comfortable and unassuming.
· The word “rape” has been replaced with “sexual assault” in most parts of the United States. However, the two terms are not synonymous with one another. The differences are as follows:
o Rape is sexual intercourse of any kind that is committed without a person’s consent and is done so in a violent manner.
o Sexual assault is used as a legal term for rape but also involves non-intercourse sexual acts. This term is used in cases where an individual is incapable of consent.
· Sexual assault traumatizes the victim as well as the victim’s close friends and family. Many victims and their family members and loved ones don’t seek out the help they need.
· There is not a 100% foolproof method to “prevent” sexual assault. No one is capable of this – not the victim, his/her family or his/her loved ones. However, awareness can help to prevent sexual assault from occurring.
· Sexual assault can be man-woman, woman-man, woman-woman and man-man. Assaults with multiple assailants can also occur. Victims or assailants do not fit into any one particular mold.
· A man’s girlfriend, wife, mother, sister or co-worker can be a victim. In this regard, sexual assault can hit close to home for many men.
· Sexual assault can be seen by men as the “’not my problem’ problem.”
· Males commit the vast majority of sexual assaults. Even in non-heterosexual assaults, men tend to be the assailants.
· 10-20% of men are victims of sexual assault in their lifetime.
· According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “one in six women …experience an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime.”
· The following tools can be used if you are in an uncomfortable situation that may be headed towards a potential sexual assault:
o End a date with someone who doesn’t show you respect. It’s just that simple.
o Use “weapons” derived from the clothing and jewelry you wear in the event you are faced with a physical threat
o Self-defense tools such as pepper spray, mace, safety whistles, etc. may prove effective in the event of an attempted sexual assault.
· The following dating tips may come in handy if you are looking to prevent a sexual assault from occurring:
o Create physical space between yourself and your date and make sure to assert yourself verbally regarding your need for space and your wish for him/her to respect your personal boundaries.
o Be prepared when going into potentially romantic situations – make your boundaries known early on and be prepared and on guard when going into situations. Remember, though – nothing can completely prevent a potential assault situation.
o Go on a group date with a group of respectful and trusted peers rather than a single date if it’s your first time going out with a potential suitor and you’re feeling uneasy.
o Go on a date during daylight hours to help create a safer environment. Also, go out to a public place with many others present, i.e. amusement park or sporting event, to help ensure a safe and non-pressuring environment.
o Drive yourself to the date location or have a trusted friend drop you off and pick you up. This helps you take matters into your own hands when it comes to beginning and ending the date on your terms.
o Pick a location close to your home area and “go dutch” so that you don’t feel you owe your date anything when the date is over.
o Make sure that both you and the other person don’t feel pressured in any way i.e. no “pity dates” and no pressure regarding who pays for what, whether or not you should kiss one another, etc.
o Avoiding alcohol and other drugs is the best bet – this helps eliminate some of the potential of being a victim or an assailant and doing something you would regret while under the influence of a substance.
o Use the “buddy system” at parties and social events – create a network of friends to support if they need it and to have around to support you in turn.
o If you have a cell phone, make sure it’s fully charged before you go out. If not, bring spare change or a calling card with you if you need to make a phone call.
o Carry with you a card that lists local emergency hotlines and important phone numbers
If you think you are in a relationship that may result in sexual assault or abuse:
· GET OUT! Trust your gut instinct.
· Confide in someone you trust – a professor, family member, friend or counselor
· Change any contact information (cell phone number, instant messenger screen name, email address, etc.) and privatize any of your social networking profiles so that the person cannot contact you
Statistics about Sexual Violence
· At least four in every 10 incidences involves non-married persons
· 60% of the participants in a 500-person survey of females 15-24 years of age were currently involved in an abusive relationship. All of the women experienced violence in a relationship at one point in their lives.
· More than half of assault victims know their assailant as a casual acquaintance at least and a significant other in many cases
· Those with partners that display jealous and controlling behaviors are more likely to be sexually assaulted, abused or stalked by their partners.
· One in six women in the U.S. will be a victim of sexual assault. One in five female college students will fall under this statistic.
Are You in an Abusive Relationship?
· Your partner criticizes you and puts you down, or you put down your partner and criticize him/her.
· Being in the relationship makes you feel less attractive and/or competent.
· You and your partner ignore one another and devalue one another
· You both have become separated from friends and family since beginning the relationship
· You call one another names and are dishonest with one another
· You both endure physical and mental abuse from one another and/or are forced to have sexual contact
Ways to spot a violent person:
Quick to get involved romantically
Tries to isolate you from family and friends
Places blame on others
Rigid sex roles
Excessive mood swings
Playful use of force with sex
Quick to get involved romantically
Ways to prevent emotionally abusive relationships:
· Keep the lines of communication open
· Don’t blame one another for personal problems and dilemmas
· Don’t allow feelings of frustration to manifest into feelings of anger and rage
· Show concern for one another
· Maintain eye contact when communicating with one another
· Maintain specificity and a positive demeanor in conversation
· Allow the other person to respond to what you have to say
· Show the other person that you understand his/her point of view
· “What do you know about dating violence?” by Berks Women in Crisis
· “May I Kiss You?” by Mike Domitrz
· Menandwomenallies.org publicity
· “What Men Can Do” and “Rape: A Men’s Issue” publicity from Mencanstoprape.org
· “Love, Sex, & Healthy Relationships” by The Commission on the Status of Women and The KU Women’s Center
· Brown University Health Education “Sexual Assault & Rape”
· “Surviving Sexual Assault” by Lara Long, Center4research.org