Sexual Assault PamphletBy: Neetha Devdas, M.A.
Sexual assaults are common in the United States, and probably more so than most people believe. Statistics indicate that approximately 1 in 4 women and 1 in 33 men will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. It is commonly understood, however, that these statistics are only accurate when taking into account how many assaults are reported. So, in reality, the numbers may be much higher.
What is Sexual Assault?
The U.S. Department of Justice defines sexual assault as crimes that include sexually based felonies besides rape and attempted rape. Sexually based felonies are unwanted sexual contacts such as fondling and touching. It is also important to note that oral, anal, or vaginal penetration without consent is also considered sexual assault.
What is Rape?
Definitions vary from state to state. However, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics in the United States Department of Justice, rape is defined as:
“Forced sexual intercourse including both psychological coercion as well as physical force. Forced sexual intercourse means penetration by the offender(s). Includes attempted rapes, male as well as female victims, and both heterosexual and homosexual rape. Attempted rape includes verbal threats of rape.”
The majority of victims know their perpetrator. It is very dangerous to think that a rapist is simply a stranger waiting in a dark alley for you. It is more likely that a rapist is an acquaintance of some sort.
Sexual Assault Statistics
- Anywhere from 1 in 4 to 1 in 6
- American women have been the victims of an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime
- Every 2 minutes, someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted
- Sexual assault is one of the most underreported crimes, with 60% still being left unreported.
- 80 to 90% of survivors know their perpetrator
- 4 in 10 take place at the victim's home.
- 2 in 10 take place at the home of a friend, neighbor, or relative.
How To Determine If You Have Been Assaulted
- Often victims are unsure if they have been assaulted. The most important thing to remember is, if you were incapacitated at the time, did not give verbal consent, felt coerced or pressured, were afraid for your life, were threatened, or said “no,” “stop,” or otherwise indicated through nonverbal actions that you were not interested in having sexual relations with another person, than it is possible that you were assaulted.
- Remember that it is possible to initiate or engage in sexual activity with another individual and then change your mind and want to stop. Your partner should respect your wishes and stop if you indicate through verbal or nonverbal means that you want to stop. If you engaged in sexual activity and then indicated in some way that you did not want to continue, and you were still forced to continue, then it is likely that you were assaulted.
- It is sometimes difficult for men and women to admit that they have been assaulted because they may be feeling ashamed, embarrassed, or may be blaming themselves for unwanted sex. However, just know that when it comes to sexual assaults, it is never the victims’ fault. Perpetrators of sexual assaults commit a violent crime when they choose to sexually assault someone. It is never your fault.
What To Do If You Have Been Assaulted
- Get to a place where you feel safe.
- Contact someone whom you feel safe with and ask them to help you. If you do not know who to call, you can always contact the Lubbock Rape Crisis Center at (806) 763-7273.
- It is important not to shower, douche, use the bathroom, or change your clothes. In case you want to file a police report these things should be avoided so that evidence can be collected.
- Go to your nearest emergency room. It is really important for you to seek medical attention in case you sustained any injuries (whether you are aware of them or not), to get tested for STDs, and in order to get evidence in case you want to file a police report. The Lubbock Rape Crisis Center also has specially trained Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE nurses) who can come out and see you through the process themselves.
- Remind yourself that the assault is not your fault.
Common Reactions To Sexual Assault
It is common for victims to experience a range of physical and emotional symptoms following an assault and even for a while afterwards. Common problems include the following:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Changes in appetite
- Mood swings that include sadness and irritability
- Feelings of shame and humiliation
- Nightmares and flashbacks (intense memories of the assault)
- Hypervigilance (heightened sense of vigilance over fearful stimuli)
- Feelings of helplessness
Facts About Sexual Assault and College Women
- According to the Department of Justice, college women are typically at a higher risk for being victims of sexual assault than non-college women their age.
- Sexual assaults are the most underreported crimes in America.
- Most sexual assaults on college women are committed by someone that the woman knows
- 80-90% of survivors know their perpetrator
- Many women do not report the assault because it was someone that they knew, they were not physically assaulted, they were not forced with the threat of a weapon being used.
- Less than 5% of attempted rapes and rapes are reported to law enforcement officials or University administrators.
Common Myths About Rape
- Myth: Rape is about sex
- Reality: Rape is a violent crime that is meant to gain power and control over another individual.
- Myth: Victims kind of “ask for it” by the way they act or what they wear.
- Reality: It is never the victim’s fault. A perpetrator is committing a violent crime against another person. The perpetrator is the sole person to blame.
- Myth: If a person does not resist or fight back, it is not rape.
- Reality: Many victims do not fight back or resist because they are afraid, unconscious, or unsure about what to do. When faced with a situation in which you are being violated and a violent crime is being committed against you, it is impossible to know how you may react.
- Myth: Men cannot be raped and women are never perpetrators.
- Reality: Both men and women can be victims and perpetrators. Most commonly what we hear is the opposite. However, the reality is that nobody is immune from being a victim of a sexual assault.
- Myth: Only certain “types” of people are raped.
- Reality: There is no common “type” of victim. The sometimes scary aspect of sexual assaults is that anyone can be a victim. It does not matter if a person is young or old, attractive or unattractive, sexually active or not. Anyone can be victimized.
- Myth: Rapists are usually strangers who attack you when you least expect it.
- Reality: While there are individuals that are strangers to their victims, the vast majority of rapes (80-90%) are committed by someone victims’ know.
- Myth: Anyone could prevent a rape if they wanted to.
- Reality: Sometimes the threat of physical force, the use of weapons, or simply the fact that the perpetrator has power over the victim prevents victims from being able to stop the assault. Remember that rape is a violent crime and not something easily stopped.
- Myth: Many people who claim to be raped are really just upset that they had sex with a person and later regretted it.
- Reality: Research shows that approximately less than 2% of reports of rape are false. The vast majority are legitimate reports.
- Myth: If someone has sex with a partner once than they cannot claim rape in the future.
- Reality: Sexual assaults occur when a person does not consent to sexual activity. Just because a person previously wanted to have sex with someone does not mean they are always willing to have sex.
- Myth: Rape is a “passionate” crime.
- Reality: Rape is and always will be a violent crime.
Drugs Facilitated Sexual Assault
Sometimes perpetrators will use drugs to cause the sexual assault victim to experience diminished capacity, meaning the victim passed out, became unconscious, fell asleep, or somehow became incapacitated. Drugs are also sometimes used to prevent victims from remembering the incident. Victims often blame themselves for their assaults because they do not remember the assault or they feel guilty for drinking or doing drugs. It is incredibly important to understand that if someone does not give consent to have sex then it is rape.
Common drugs used in sexual assaults include:
Look and Duration
Various colored and flavored liquids. Duration of effects are dependent on amount ingested.
(i.e. ruffies, roach, rope)
Small white pill that can be dissolved in liquids. Can become effective within 30 minutes and can remain in a person's system for 8 or more hours.
(i.e. liquid ecstasy, grievous, bodily harm, Georgia homeboy)
Clear odorless liquid or white crystal-like powder. Can become effective within 15 minutes and can last for approximately 3-4 hours. Stays in a person's system for 10-12 hours.
Has bitter taste but can be easily placed into a strong alcoholic drink without notice. Can become effective within and hour of indestion and lasts for 6 hours. Stays in a person's system for 24 hours.
Note: GBL is difficult to detect because victime may appear normal but will not have any memory of the time period in which they were drugged.
(i.e. K, Special K, Kit Kat)
Liquid that is placed is drinks. Can take effect within 1 hour (most likely shorter) and lasts for up to 3 hours. Stays in a person's system for up to 48 hours.
(i.e. X, E, XTC, Roll)
Small pill, powder, or liquid placed in drinks.
Sexual assaults are possibly one of the least reported and most misunderstood violent crimes. It is important to remember that victims of sexual assaults are never to blame for what happens to them. The reality is that the perpetrator chose to commit a very violent crime against an individual. Regardless of whether or not the victim fought back, screamed, or said “no,” if there was no consent, then a sexual assault has been committed.
Rape, Abuse, & Incest, National Network
Lubbock Rape Crisis Center
Students Against Sexual Assault (TTU)