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Strategies for preventing sexual abuse

By Keener A. Tippin II

 

Although there is no way to become completely "assault proof," the following precautions are recommended to help guard your safety. Men must also examine their behavior and attitudes in order to avoid becoming a perpetrator, either knowingly or unknowingly.

For women:

* Be selective in your dating choice. Avoid men who exhibit the personal characteristics of a potential rapist. These include men who espouse violence, who demean and control women, and who are obsessed with guns, drugs and alcohol.

* Be independent and aware on your dates. Express opinions on where to go and appropriate places to meet.

* Be alert to behavior that often precedes a date rape, including attempts to take you to an isolated location, physical contact without your permission, and an overemphasis on sex talk and play. If this happens, try to get away from your date any way you can.

* Be especially alert to "rape hazards" like isolated places, first dates and weekend parties.

* Be assertive and say "No" if your date insists on unwanted sexual comments and touching. Terminate the date immediately if the man becomes physically or sexually aggressive.

* Avoid attending or staying late at parties where men greatly outnumber women. Don't be afraid to leave early because it might seem rude.

* Never remain at a party where you are the only female.

* Avoid excessive use of alcohol and drugs. Be able to get yourself home and do not rely on others to take care of you.

* If you are attending college, beware of parties where heavy drinking or drug consumption is likely to occur.

* Don't accept alcoholic or nonalcoholic drinks from anyone you don't know well and trust. If you accept a drink from someone, make sure it's a drink that comes in a sealed container and that you open the can/bottle yourself. Do not leave your drink unattended.

* Plan possible responses to threatening situations ahead of time so that you'll have an idea of what to do if you are attacked. If you choose to resist, select actions within your capabilities, resist early and aggressively, and use the moment of freedom gained to flee or to summon help.

* Remember that the most favorable moment for escape is during the first few seconds of attack.

* Have a well-prepared defense plan before you go out, in case your date becomes dangerous. It is important to remain calm and clearheaded when confronted with this situation.

* Try to talk your date out of the attack, using persuasion or deception -- anything that may prove effective.

* If you decide to resist physically, use any and all tactics, fair and foul, to allow you an opportunity to escape.

* If things start to get out of hand, be loud in protesting, leave and go for help. If it feels uncomfortable, leave quickly.

* Avoid secluded places where you are in a vulnerable position. This is especially critical at the beginning of a relationship. Be particularly cautious about inviting a guest to your home or accepting an invitation to your date's home. These are the most likely places where acquaintance rapes occur. Never walk home alone late at night when the campus is deserted.

* Examine your attitudes about money and power. If your date pays for the meal or the entertainment, do you feel indebted? If so, then pay your own way or suggest dates that do not involve money.

* Never blame yourself for a sexual assault. Rape is the fault of the attacker, no one else.

* In the aftermath of a sexual attack, get to a safe place or area. Call someone you trust -- a friend, relative, or teacher -- and tell about the assault.

* Contact your local rape crisis center. Refrain from eating, drinking, washing, douching, brushing your teeth and combing your hair.

* Seek medical help.

* Seek counseling by highly training therapists. Join a support group and share experiences.

* Remember, you alone must make the final decisions involving reporting the rape and pressing charges. However, by doing so you're not only helping yourself, you're also helping other potential victims.

* Memorize the telephone number of campus security. Write it down, and carry it at all times. At K-State, that number is 532-6412.

For men and women:

* Set sexual limits. It is your body and no one has the right to force you to do anything you don't want to do.

* Decide early if you would like to have sex. The sooner you communicate firmly and clearly your sexual intentions, the easier it will be for your partner to accept your decision.

* Do not give mixed messages; be clear. Be alert to other unconscious messages you may be giving through your clothing, tone of voice, eye contact and body language.

* If you are unsure of a new acquaintance, go on a group or a double date. If this is not possible, meet your date in a public place and have your own transportation home.

* Be sensitive to partners who are unsure whether they want to have sex. Your partner may be interested in some degree of sexual contact, but not intercourse.

* Accept your partner's decision. If you are receiving "yes" and "no" messages from your date, state your confusion and discuss it.

* Don't assume that a woman who dresses in a "sexy" manner or flirts wants to have sexual intercourse. Don't assume that previous permission for sexual contact applies to the current situation.

* Be aware that a man's size and physical presence can be intimidating to a woman. Many victims report that the fear they felt based upon a man's size and presence was the reason why they did not fight back or struggle.

* Don't allow yourself or other men to take advantage of someone whose judgment is impaired by drugs or alcohol. This behavior is also rape!

* Become aware. The K-State police department sponsors crime prevention programs to stress community awareness and interaction. The Women's Center also offers sexual violence and rape prevention programs in several formats adaptable to group size and composition. Educational programs to promote awareness of rape, acquaintance rape and other sex offenses are offered regularly in the residence halls, as part of Greek orientation, and as a part of freshman orientation courses available in the Colleges of Arts and Sciences, Business Administration and Education. The Women's Center staff also will prepare and present sexual violence prevention programs for any class. The Women’s Center staff also provides educational sexual violence prevention programs to student groups, organizations, residence halls, and Greek houses. In addition, self-defense courses for students are offered, free of charge, at the Women's Center.

For men:

* Never force yourself on a woman or attempt to coerce her to have sex with you, even if you think one or both of you deserve it. No one asks to be raped. No matter how she behaves, she does not deserve her body to be used in ways she does not want.

* If a woman is not consenting to sex, then it is rape. A woman who is mentally deficient is not capable of giving consent. It does not matter if the deficiency is mental or physical. A WOMAN WHO IS INTOXICATED CANNOT GIVE CONSENT. Having sex under these situations is rape.

* Intoxication is NOT a defense to rape. You are responsible for your actions, sober or not.

* Always hear "Yes" before sex.

* Be sensitive to women who are not sure they want to have sex.

* Not having sex, or not "scoring" does not mean you are not a real man.

For parents and women:

* If you are a parent, teach your teenagers traditional values of mutual respect; point out the dangers of peer pressure, drugs and alcohol. Serve as a role model.

* Discuss the dangers of dating and sexual assault with your teenage daughter to ensure that she has a high level of awareness before she goes away to college.

* Know your daughter's rights. Should she become the victim of sexual assault, and make sure she knows them as well.

* Consult FBI statistics on campus crime before choosing a college. K-State's campus crime statistics are on the Web at http://www.k-state.edu/studentlife/reportsandpolicies/

* Choose a college that is serious about sexual assault prevention and protection.

* Be certain your college can provide an escort service or special transportation after dark.

* Check whether your college has automatic-dial emergency phones at convenient locations. If not, insist that they be installed.

* Insist that college security personnel receive special training in rape prevention and how to deal with a victim.

Compiled from: "Friends Raping Friends. Could it Happen to You?" by Jean O'Gorman Hughes and Bernice Sandler and information provided by the Women's Center, Kansas State University.

 

August 2003