Sexual Assault: How to Prevent It and How Bystanders Can Help

Sexual Assault - Prevention and Response


Sexual assault occurs when a person sexually touches another person without that person’s consent, or physically forces a person to engage in a sexual act against their will. It is a form of sexual violence which includes attempted rape, rape, groping, vaginal, anal or oral penetration, child sexual abuse or the torture of the person in a sexual manner.

What To Do If You Are Raped

Knowing what to do if you are raped in order to ensure your safety, preserve evidence, do not brush your teeth, bathe or change clothes until medical professionals have had a chance to properly collect evidence, to increase the likelihood that the rapist is successfully prosecuted. Even though evidence might be the last thing on your mind directly after a rape, it is something you will likely think about for a long time to come; so taking steps now can help you out in the long run.

The most important thing to do after a rape is ensure your own safety and get medical attention. The first obvious step is to find a safe environment away from the attacker. This could be your home, car or a hospital. Wherever you choose to go, consider calling a friend to come with you to offer moral support. What has just happened to you is not your fault and you do not need to go through it alone.  Once you are safe, ensure you get medical attention – whether you feel you have been hurt or not. Call the police or 911.

Sexual Assault Prevention Tips:

Tips for Partying Smart

  1. Stick with your friends.
  2. Make a plan before you go out. Set up checkpoints or code words to make it easy for you and your friends to stay connected.
  3. If your drink is out of your sight, even for a few seconds, get a new one. Spiking a drink with a date rape drug can happen quickly.
  4. Don’t share drinks.
  5. Don’t drink from punch bowls or open containers.
  6. Always keep your cell phone charged and on you. You never know when you’ll need it.
  7. Make sure you always have a ride home or a plan to walk home with a friend or roommate.
  8. Trust your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right to you, leave and get to a safe place immediately.

 Tips for Dating Smart Sexual Assault - No Means No

  1. Know your limits—and let your date know them right from the start.
  2. Trust your gut. If you feel uncomfortable, leave.
  3. Stay in control. Alcohol is the most common date-rape drug. In fact, alcohol is involved in 75 percent of all sexual assaults reported.
  4. Tell a friend where you are going, especially if you’re going out on a first date or a blind date.
  5. Avoid secluded places until you know your date better.
  6. Always charge your cell phone and keep it on you.
  7. Always carry enough money to take a taxi home.
  8. Pay attention to what you hear. A person may have a bad reputation for a reason.

Active Bystander Intervention

Everyone has a role to play in preventing sexual assault. There are many different ways that you can step in or make a difference if you see someone at risk. This approach to preventing sexual assault is referred to as “bystander intervention.”

The key to keeping your friends safe is learning how to intervene in a way that fits the situation and your comfort level. Having this knowledge on hand can give you the confidence to step in when something isn’t right. Stepping in can make all the difference, but it should never put your own safety at risk. One of the most effective methods of preventing sexual assault is bystander intervention.

How Bystanders Can Help

We have some tips on how to look out for buddies and keep them safe. There are also many steps you can take to reduce the risk of sexual assault.

How to Intervene

  • Recognize when to intervene. Some people might be concerned that they are being encouraged to place themselves in jeopardy to stop crimes in progress. This is not the case. There are many situations and events that occur prior to a sexual assault that are appropriate for intervention.
  • Active bystander intervention encourages people to watch for those behaviors and situations that appear to be inappropriate, coercive and harassing.

Help Someone In TroubleStop sexual assault

When choosing what form of assistance to use, there are a variety of ways to intervene. Some of them are direct, and some of them are less obvious to the perpetrator:

  • Make up an excuse to get him/her out of a potentially dangerous situation.
  • Let a friend or co-worker know that his or her actions may lead to serious consequences.
  • Never leave his/her side, despite the efforts of someone to get him/her alone or away from you.
  • Use a group of friends to remind someone behaving inappropriately that his or her behavior should be respectful.
  • Take steps to curb someone’s use of alcohol before problems occur.
  • Call the authorities when the situation warrants.

Understand how to safely implement the choice. Safety is important in active bystander intervention. Usually, intervening in a group is safer than intervening individually. Also, choosing a method of intervention that de-escalates the situation is safer than attempting a confrontation. However, there is no single rule that can account for every situation. Remember to use good judgment and always put safety first.

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