What do you know...

About Sexual Assault?

In practiceIt's any unwanted sexual contact. Rape, acquaintance rape, incest, forced sodomy, sexual assault with an object, unwanted fondling, and verbal threats are all considered to be sexual assaults.

About Rape?

Rape is forced sexual intercourse. "Force" includes physical force and psychological coercion. Vaginal, oral, or anal penetration; attempted rape; and same-sex and opposite-sex rape are all defined as rape.

About Acquaintance Rape?

That's a person forcing, coercing, or manipulating someone they know into having sex against their will. Acquaintance rape is four times more common than stranger rape.

About Consent?

This is an affirmative decision—indicated clearly by words or actions—to engage in mutually acceptable sex. Nobody can give consent—legally or morally—if they are drunk or high. Are you qualified to determine whether or not somebody is legally drunk?

And nobody can give consent—legally or morally—if they are frightened, physically or psychologically pressured or forced, intimidated, unconscious, mentally or physically impaired, beaten, threatened, isolated, or confined.

Facts and Stats You Need

Ninety percent of college women who are victims of rape or attempted rape know their assailant. The perpetrator is usually a classmate, friend, boyfriend, or ex-boy-friend.

College women are most vulnerable to rape during the first few weeks of their first and second year.

Seventy-five percent of male students and 55 percent of female students involved in acquaintance rape have been using drugs or drinking.

Source: Sampson, Rana. Acquaintance Rape of College Students, Problem-Oriented Guides for Police; Problem Specific Guides Series No.17, August 7, 2003. (http://www.cops.usdoj.gov)

Sexual Assault: Fact and Fiction

Fiction: Sexual assaults happen only in dark, isolated places.

Fact: Almost 60 percent of sexual assaults on college campuses happen in residence halls. (FBI statistic)

Fiction: Rape victims are always women.

fact: Men can be raped. One in six men will experience a sexual assault in their lifetime
(National Institute of Justice statistic) . Even so, more than 90 percent of reported sexual assaults are committed by men against women.

Fiction: By going to someone's room or house, you assume the risk of sexual assault.

Fact: No you don't. The responsibility for sexual assault rests with the offender. Even if you voluntarily enter someone's room, and even if you consent to some sexual activity, you have not, by extension, consented to all sexual activity.

Real Rape Prevention: What Would That Look Like?

It would consist of preventing rapists from committing the crime. Most rape prevention consists of teaching potential victims to avoid the crime. So what we call "rape prevention" is really "rape risk reduction."

In every situation of rape, rape is never the victim's fault, no matter where they go, how they dress, or what they think. Nobody asks to be raped; nobody deserves to be raped.

Less Than Perfect Risk Reduction: What We've Got

The following is a list of precautions that MAY reduce the risk of rape. It includes actions you can take to avoid sexual assault by both strangers and people you know, but of course no such list can eliminate rape.

Defend your territory. You control your own body. You have every right to initiate or refuse sex, to set limits on sex, to say "no" at any time, and to change your mind about sex.

Go with your gut. If you feel vaguely uncomfortable, or if your intuition says you are not safe, trust your intuition. Get out of the situation, no matter how foolish you might look. Intuition is pretty accurate, and if you're wrong, so what?

Stay alert. Always know where you are, where you're going, who's ahead of you and who's behind you. Look people in the eye, and let them know you see them. Pay attention to odd behavior.

Assertive vibes—Know what you want. Speak your mind clearly; when you say "no," say it forcefully. When you say "yes," make sure you understand what you are agreeing to. Walk confidently and with purpose. Look like you know where you are going, even if you are lost.

Stay in control—Stay sober. If you drink, drink in moderation. Consider paying your own way on first dates, so there are no unspoken "obligations." Know where you are going, and always have enough cash for a cab or a phone call. Set up a buddy system with a friend.

Power punch. Take a self-defense class. You don't have to get a black belt; just learning basic kicks and punches is useful and empowering. Look for a course that emphasizes avoidance and escape as well as self-defense, such as R.A.D. (Rape Aggression Defense) offered by Case Protective Services.

In Case housing. Make sure your door is locked when you go to bed and when you leave the room to do laundry, make a phone call, etc. Don't prop room or hall doors open. Find out who's at the door before you open it. Be aware of "tail-gaters"—people who enter the building behind you. Don't be embarrassed about refusing to let a stranger in. Insist that all unaccompanied guests use outside phones to gain access.

At the Spot, at a party, or at an off-campus bar. Go to parties with friends, and leave with friends. Keep an eye on your drink and get your own refills. Don't accept pre-mixed drinks; date rape drugs are odorless and colorless. Watch your friends. Intervene if it looks like a friend is in danger. When the party's over take a shuttle, or call security for an escort.

Source: Cleveland Rape Crisis Center