Sexual assault can be defined as any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs by force or without consent of the recipient of the unwanted sexual activity. Falling under the definition of sexual assault is sexual activity such as forced sexual intercourse, child molestation, incest, fondling, and attempted rape. It includes sexual acts against people who are unable to consent either due to age or lack of capacity.

Definitions

Definitions below were adapted from Buffalo State College, Violence Intervention and Victim Advocacy (VIVA) Program.

  • Rape - Forced sexual intercourse without consent. Force can be physical; stated or implied threats that cause fear of immediate death or physical injury to self or others; or immediate fear of being kidnapped.
  • Stranger Rape - Forced or coerced sexual activities by a person or persons unknown to the victim.
  • Non-Stranger Rape - (formerly known as the subtypes below):
    • Acquaintance Rape - Is often incorrectly viewed as a consensual sexual encounter gone awry, rather than an act of violence. However, by definition, acquaintance rape is forced, unwanted sexual activity with a person the victim knows or recognizes.
    • Date Rape - This is another term used to describe acquaintance rape. It is a violation of body and trust. It is an act of violence by someone a survivor has dated or has just met.
    • Partner Rape - Forced or coerced sexual activities with a dating or live-in relationship.
    • Marital Rape - Forced or coerced sexual activities within a marriage.
    • Gang Rape - Forced or coerced sexual activities by two or more persons, known or unknown to the victim.
    • Child Sexual Abuse - Any contact or non-contact sexual act imposed upon a child, which can result in emotional, physical or sexual trauma

Sexual Violence Statistics

  • Nearly 1 in 5 women in the United States has been raped in her lifetime.
  • Approximately 1 in 71 men in the United States reported having been raped in his lifetime.
  • Nearly 1 in 2 women (45%) and 1 in 5 men (22%) experienced sexual violence victimization other than rape at some point in their lives.

Source: Black, M.C., Basile, K.C., Breiding, M.J., Smith, S.G., Walters, M.L., Merrick, M.T., Chen, J., & Stevens, M.R. (2011). The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS): 2010 Summary Report. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

State of Texas Statistics

In 2013, the state of Texas reported the following sexual assault data:

  • Number of incidents: 17,844
  • Number of victims: 18,612
  • Number of offenders: 18,812

The breakdown for our surrounding counties is as follows:

  • Fort Bend County: 255
  • Harris County: 2,069
  • Liberty County: 61
  • Montgomery County: 275
  • San Jacinto: 20
  • Walker County: 51
  • Waller County: 21

Source: Texas Department of Public Safety, Crime in Texas 2013

Strategies for Avoiding Sexual Assault

Adapted from the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault (TAASA) Strategies for Avoiding Sexual Assault brochure:

Even if you are cautious, you cannot be vigilant 24 hours a day. Although there is no perfect way to completely protect yourself against rape, the following ideas may help.

Assertive Behavior:

  • Awareness and assertive behavior may be your best defenses against becoming an “easy victim.”
  • Real anger instead of fear may not be expected by a would-be attacker and may throw him off-guard.
  • If approached by someone you sense to be a potential threat, try to stay out of reach.
  • Report suspicious or criminal activity to the police immediately.
  • If you feel you are in danger of being attacked, try to escape the situation by running away if you can.
  • Head for a well-lighted place where there are other people who may be able to help you.
  • Try in any way you can to attract attention to yourself. Scream “CALL 911!”
  • Trust your instincts. If a person, place, or situation makes you uneasy, leave or change it immediately.
  • Use common sense. If it seems risky, it probably is.

Reducing your risk on dates:

  • Find out more about your date. If he is someone you do not know, arrive separately and meet in a public place.
  • Be assertive. Speak up if a situation makes you uncomfortable. Make it clear that paying for a meal does not entitle him to anything else, or offer to pay your own way.
  • Don’t allow yourself to be isolated with someone you don’t know or trust.
  • Set your own limits and communicate these limits to your date
  • Trust your feelings. If someone doesn’t feel right or if you just feel pressured or frightened, listen to yourself.

Reducing your risk at home:

  • Make sure your home has a door viewer and a dead bolt lock.
  • Make sure all entrances are well-lighted.
  • Never hide a key over a door or in a flower pot or another obvious place.
  • Never put your first name on the mailbox or in the phone book and be cautious about revealing personal information over the phone or internet.
  • Never admit strangers or unwanted acquaintances to your home under any circumstance. Talk to them through the locked door.
  • Keep your blinds and curtains closed at night.

Reducing your risk at parties:

  • When you go to a party or club, go with friends. Arrive together, watch out for each other, and leave together.
  • Don’t leave your beverage unattended or accept a drink from an open container
  • Keep a clear head. Overuse of alcohol or drugs can decrease your awareness and make you more vulnerable.
  • Don’t leave with a stranger, no matter how attractive or persuasive he may be.

Reducing your risk in the car:

  • Always lock your car when leaving and entering it.
  • Look in the back seat before entering your car.
  • Have your keys in hand so you do not have to search for them.
  • If you are driving to another city, try and carry a cell phone that has a wide calling area so you can call for help if you are stranded
  • If you have car trouble, raise your hood, lock yourself in, and wait for the police or call for help, if you have a cell phone with you.
  • Do not stop to help a stranded motorist; use your cell phone or stop at the nearest phone and call the police.
  • If you suspect that someone is following you, drive to the nearest public place and blow your horn.
  • Keep your car well-serviced, with good tires, a spare and plenty of gas.

Reducing your risk on the street

  • When walking alone, act self-assured and confident that you know where you are going.
  • Walk on the traffic side of sidewalks, not close to alleyways and bushes.
  • If you suspect that someone is following you, cross the street, or walk quickly to a well-lit, well-populated location.
  • Wear sensible clothing and shoes which allow you to maneuver or run.
  • Don’t load yourself down with packages, bags, books, etc. You will appear vulnerable for attack.
  • Stay alert and aware. Turn around and look at whoever may be behind you.
  • If you walk or jog for exercise, try to vary your route or time on the street. Predictable behavior is risky.
  • If you feel uncomfortable walking alone to your car on campus, you can call campus police to have an officer escort you to your car.

Sexual assault occurs most frequently in the following places:

  • 34% in the victim’s home or yard
  • 20% in the perpetrator’s home or yard
  • 12% in someone else’s home or yard
  • 7% in the victim and perpetrator’s home or yard
  • 7% in rural area, woods, park, or campground
  • 5% in a car

Source:  Kilpatrick, D.G., Edmunds, C.M. & Seymour, A. (1992). Rape in America: A report to the nation. National Victim Center and Crime Victim’s Research and Treatment Center.

What to do if you are sexually assaulted
http://www.rainn.org/get-information/sexual-assault-recovery/tips-for-after-an-attack

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