If Someone is Pressuring You

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If you need to get out of an uncomfortable or scary situation here are some things that you can try:

  1. Remember that being in this situation is not your fault. You did not do anything wrong, it is the person who is making you uncomfortable that is to blame.
  2. Be true to yourself. Don’t feel obligated to do anything you don’t want to do. “I don’t want to” is always a good enough reason. Do what feels right to you and what you are comfortable with.
  3. Have a code word with your friends or family so that if you don’t feel comfortable you can call them and communicate your discomfort without the person you are with knowing. Your friends or family can then come to get you or make up an excuse for you to leave.
  4. Lie. If you don’t want to hurt the person’s feelings it is better to lie and make up a reason to leave than to stay and be uncomfortable, scared, or worse. Some excuses you could use are: needing to take care of a friend or family member, not feeling well, having somewhere else that you need to be, etc.
  5. Try to think of an escape route. How would you try to get out of the room? Where are the doors? Windows? Are there people around who might be able to help you? Is there an emergency phone nearby?
  6. If you and/or the other person have been drinking, you can say that you would rather wait until you both have your full judgment before doing anything you may regret later.

What should I do if I am sexually assaulted?

After a Sexual Assault

It’s hard to know what to do, how to feel, or what your options are after a sexual assault. Please know that you’re not alone. Below are some things to keep in mind. If you are in immediate danger or seriously injured, call 911.

  1. Your safety is important. Are you in a safe place? If you’re not feeling safe, consider reaching out to someone you trust for support. You don’t have to go through this alone.
  2. What happened was not your fault. Something happened to you that you didn’t want to happen—and that’s not OK.
  3. Call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673).You’ll be connected to a trained staff member from a local sexual assault service provider in your area. They will direct you to the appropriate local health facility that can care for survivors of sexual assault. Some service providers may be able to send a trained advocate to accompany you.

When you call the National Sexual Assault Hotline, a staff member will walk you through the process of getting help at your own pace. You can also visitonline.rainn.org to chat anonymously. Hotline staffers can also provide information on topics you might have questions about, including:

Sexual assault is a crime of motive and opportunity. Ultimately, there is no surefire way to prevent an attack. If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual violence, it’s not your fault. You are not alone. Help is available 24/7 through the National Sexual Assault Hotlines at 1-800.656.HOPE, and online at rainn.org

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Safety Planning when someone is hurting you.

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For many people who have been affected by sexual assault, current and long-term safety can be an ongoing concern. Safety planning is about brainstorming ways to stay safe that may also help reduce the risk of future harm. It can include planning for a future crisis, considering your options, and making decisions about your next steps. Finding ways to stay and feel safer can be an important step towards healing, and these plans and actions should not increase the risk of being hurt.

Safety planning when someone is hurting you:

  • Lean on a support network. Having someone you can reach out to for support can be an important part of staying safe and recovering. Find someone you trust who could respond to a crisis if you needed their help.
  • Become familiar with safe places. Learn more about safe places near you such as a local domestic violence shelter or a family member’s house. Learn the routes and commit them to memory. Find out more about sexual assault service providers in your area that can offer support.
  • Stay safe at home. If the person hurting you is in your home, you can take steps to feel safer. Try hanging bells or a noise maker on your door to scare the person hurting you away, or sleep in public spaces like the living room. If possible, keep the doors inside your house locked or put something heavy in front of them. If you’re protecting yourself from someone who does not live with you, keep all the doors locked when you’re not using them, and install an outside lighting system with motion detectors. Change the locks if possible.
  • Keep computer safety in mind. If you think someone might be monitoring your computer use, consider regularly clearing your cache, history, and cookies. You could also use a different computer at a friend’s house or a public library.
  • Create a code word. It might be a code between you and your children that means “get out,” or with your support network that means “I need help.”
  • Prepare an excuse. Create several plausible reasons for leaving the house at different times or for existing situation that might become dangerous. Have these on hand in case you need to get away quickly.

Safety planning when someone is stalking you:

  • Tell someone you trust. Stalking shouldn’t be kept a secret. Tell your parents, loved ones, a trusted adult, or the local police to determine if a report can be made.
  • Be prepared to reach out. If possible, keep your cell phone charged and have emergency contact numbers programmed ahead of time. You may want to save these contacts under a different name. Memorize a few numbers in case you don’t have cell phone access in the future.
  • Change your routine. Be aware of your daily routine and begin to alter it overtime. Switch up the way you commute more often, taking different routes or different modes of transportation.
    Visit the Stalking Resource Center for more ways to stay safe.

Safety planning when leaving the person hurting you:

  • Make an escape bag. Pack a bag that includes all important papers and documents, such as your birth certificate, license, passport, social security card, bills, prescription drugs, and medical records. Include cash, keys, and credit cards. Hide the bag well. If it’s discovered, call it a “hurricane bag” or “fire bag.” If you are escaping with children, include their identifying information as well.
  • Prepare your support network. Keep your support network in the loop. Let them know how to respond if the perpetrator contacts them.
  • Plan a destination. If you’re not going to stay with someone you know, locate the nearest domestic violence shelter or homeless shelter.
  • Plan a route. Then plan a backup route. If you are driving, have a tank of gas filled at all times. If you rely on public transportation, know the routes departure times. Many public transportation systems have mobile apps that update their schedules and arrival times.
  • Important Safety Note: If the dangerous situation involves a partner, go to the police or a shelter first.

If you are in a domestic violence situation and need help, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800.799.SAFE(7233). You can also visit their website to learn more about safety planning.

 

Protecting Your Friends and How to Respond to a Survivor

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You have a crucial role to play in keeping your friends safe. No matter what the setting, if you see something that doesn’t feel quite right or see someone who might be in trouble, there are some simple things you can do to help out a friend.

Distract. If you see a friend in a situation that doesn’t feel quite right, create a distraction
to get your friend to safety. This can be as simple as joining or redirecting the conversation: suggest to your friend that you leave the party, or ask them to walk you home. Try asking questions like: “Do you want to head to the bathroom with me?” or “Do you want to head to another party – or grab pizza?”

Step in. If you see someone who looks uncomfortable or is at risk, step in. If you feel
safe, find a way to de-escalate the situation and separate all parties involved. Don’t be shy
about directly asking the person if they need help or if they feel uncomfortable.

Enlist others. You don’t have to go it alone. Call in friends or other people in the area
as reinforcements to help defuse a dangerous situation and get the at-risk person home safely. There is safety in numbers.

Keep an eye out. Use your eyes and ears to observe your surroundings. If you
see someone who has had too much to drink or could be vulnerable, try to get them to a safe place. Enlist friends to help you. Even if you weren’t around when the assault occurred, you can still support a friend in the aftermath.

How to Respond to a Survivor

When someone you care about tells you they’ve been sexually assaulted or abused, it can be a lot to handle. A supportive reaction can make all the difference, but that doesn’t mean it comes easy. Encouraging words and phrases avoid judgment and show support for the survivor. Consider these phrases:

  1. “I’m sorry this happened.” Acknowledge that the experience has affected their life. Phrases like “This must be really tough for you,” and, “I’m so glad you are sharing this with me,” help to communicate empathy.
  2. “It’s not your fault.” Survivors may blame themselves, especially if they know the perpetrator personally. Remind the survivor, maybe even more than once, that they are not to blame.
  3. “I believe you.” It can be extremely difficult for survivors to come forward and share their story. They may feel ashamed, concerned that they won’t be believed, or worried they’ll be blamed. Leave any “why” questions or investigations to the experts—your job is to support this person. Be careful not to interpret calmness as a sign that the event did not occur—everyone responds differently. The best thing you can do is to believe them.
  4. “You are not alone.” Remind the survivor that you are there for them and willing to listen to their story. Remind them there are other people in their life who care and that there are service providers who will be able to support them as they recover from the experience.
  5. “Are you open to seeking medical attention?” The survivor might need medical attention, even if the event happened a while ago. You can support the survivor by offering to accompany them or find more information. It’s ok to ask directly, “Are you open to seeking medical care?”
  6. “You can trust me.” If a survivor opens up to you, it means they trust you. Reassure them that you can be trusted and will respect their privacy. Always ask the survivor before you share their story with others. If a minor discloses a situation of sexual abuse, you are required in most situations to report the crime. Let the minor know that you have to tell another adult, and ask them if they’d like to be involved.
  7. “This doesn’t change how I think of you.” Some survivors are concerned that sharing what happened will change the way other people see them, especially a partner. Reassure the survivor that surviving sexual violence doesn’t change the way you think or feel about them.

Continued Support
There’s no timetable when it comes to recovering from sexual violence. If someone trusted you enough to disclose the event, consider the following ways to show your continued support.

  • Check in periodically. The event may have happened a long time ago, but that doesn’t mean the pain is gone. Check in with the survivor to remind them you still care about their well-being and believe their story.
  • Avoid judgment. It can be difficult to watch a survivor struggle with the effects of sexual assault for an extended period of time. Avoid phrases that suggest they’re taking too long to recover such as, “You’ve been acting like this for a while now,” or “How much longer will you feel this way?”
  • Remember that the healing process is fluid. Everyone has bad days. Don’t interpret flashbacks, bad days, or silent spells as “setbacks.” It’s all part of the process.
  • Know your resources You’re a strong supporter, but that doesn’t mean you’re equipped to manage someone else’s health. Become familiar with resources you can recommend to a survivor, like the National Sexual Assault Hotline 800.656.HOPE (4673) and online.rainn.org.

survivor

 

How Can I Protect My Child From Sexual Assault?

Protection-of-Children-from-Sexual-Offences2Parents are surrounded by messages about child sexual abuse. Talk shows and TV news warn parents about dangers at school, in the home and on the Internet. Despite all the media coverage, parents don’t get much advice about how to talk to their children about sexual abuse and how to prevent it.

Talk to your children about sexuality and sexual abuse in age-appropriate terms.

  • Talking openly and directly abProtection-of-Children-from-Sexual-Offences1out sexuality teaches children that it is okay to talk to you when they have questions.
  • Teach children the names of their body parts so that they have the language to ask questions and express concerns about those body parts.
  • Teach children that some parts of their body are private.
    • Let children know that other people should not be touching or looking at their private parts unless they need to touch them to provide care. If someone does need to touch them in those private areas, a parent of trusted caregiver should be there, too.
    • Tell children that if someone tries to touch those private areas or wants to look at them, OR if someone tries to show the child their own private parts, they should tell a trusted adult as soon as possible.
  • All children should be told that it’s okay to say “no” to touches that make them uncomfortable or if someone is touching them in ways that make them uncomfortable and that they should tell a trusted adult as soon as possible.
    • This can lead to some slightly embarrassing situations, such as a child who then says they don’t want give a relative a hug or kiss! Work with your child to find ways to greet people that don’t involve uncomfortable kinds of touch.
    • Talking openly about sexuality and sexual abuse also teaches children that these things don’t need to be “secret.” Abusers will sometimes tell a child that the abuse is a secret. Let your children know that if someone is touching them or talking to them in ways that make them uncomfortable that it shouldn’t stay a secret.
    • Make sure to tell your child that that they will not get into trouble if they tell you this kind of secret.
  • Don’t try to put all this information into one big “talk” about sex.
    • Talking about sexuality and sexual abuse should be routine conversations.

Be involved in your child’s life.

  • Be interested in your child’s activities.
    • Ask your child about the people they go to school with or play with.
    • If your child is involved in sports, go to games and practices. Get to know the other parents and coaches.
    • If your child is involved in afterschool activities or daycare, ask them what they did during the day.
  • Talk about the media.
    • If your child watches a lot of television or plays video games, watch or play with them.
      • Many TV shows (for example, CSI or Law and Order) show sexual violence of different kinds.
      • Some video games (for example, Grand Theft Auto) allow the user to engage in sexual violence.

    • Use examples from TV or games that you have watched or played together to start up conversations about sexuality and sexual abuse.
  • Know the other adults that your child might talk to.
    • Children sometimes feel that they cannot talk to their parents.
    • Know the other trusted adults in your child’s life.

Be available.

  • Make time to spend with your child.
  • Let your child know that they can come to you if they have questions or if someone is talking to them in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable.
    • Be sure to follow up on this! If your child comes to you with concerns or questions, make time to talk to them.

 

When you empower your child to say “no” to unwanted touch and teach them that they can come to you with questions and concerns, you take critical steps to preventing child sexual abuse.

 

To learn more about child sexual abuse and talk to someone who can help, contact
1-800-656-HOPE or visit: online.rainn.org

 

Computer Safety

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Computer Safety

Below are some valuable ways to manage your personal information online, as well as tips for following safe browsing procedures.

Find a Safe Computer

Please take a moment to think about whether your computer is safe. This is particularly important if the person abusing you may have access to your computer.

If other people can access your computer, please take a moment to think about whether your computer is safe. This is particularly important if the person abusing you may have access to your computer.

If you have any reason to think that your computer may not be safe due to Spyware, Keystroke Logging, Viruses, or someone monitoring your computer use in some other way, please consider finding a safer computer in your area and accessing the National Sexual Assault Online Hotline from there.

If you need help finding a safer computer try these places:

Find your local library:

  • Library Locator can help you to find a local public library that may have computers with free internet access.
  • Public Libraries.com can help you to find a local public library that may have computers with free internet access.

Find a community computer center:

 

Edit Privacy Settings on Facebook

Review steps you can take to manage your personal information on Facebook.

 

Log in to your Facebook account. Browse to the right and click the Account tab.

 

Once you click Account, the following selections will appear:

 

Click on Account Settings

 

From here you can modify any of your account settings. For example, you can go to Password and click Change. You can then create a more secure password for your account. You can also select a Security Question that makes it more difficult for someone to change your account log in. Scroll to Privacy and click Manage.

 

It is recommended that your settings do not allow account access to everyone. Try to maintain it to friends only, as indicated above. Once you have modified your privacy settings to your liking, click Apply These Settings. If you want to choose specific information that is viewable or blocked, you can click Customize Settings. The screenshot is indicated below.

 

Ideally, you should set these to be visible to Friends Only for privacy purposes. Once you have set your preferences, you can return to any page.

 
Return to My Account page and click Account Security.

 
Your Facebook page and account are now secured to the preferences that you have selected, and will offer you a greater level of privacy, if you have chosen to do so. Remember, it is always recommended that you limit the people that can access your information on ANY type of social networking site. Allowing access to only trusted friends and creating strong account security is a good first step.

Click Change and you can be notified of any account activity.

 

 How to Edit Privacy Settings on Twitter

Review steps you can take to manage your personal information on Twitter.

 

Sign into your account by going to Twitter.com, browsing to the right and clicking theSign In tab.

 

Input your login info.

Once you login, click on your Twitter screen name to reveal a drop down menu and the following will appear:

 

Click on Settings.

 

From here you can edit and modify a number of account settings. Scroll down and you will find areas you can edit privacy settings such as Tweet Location, Tweet Privacy, andHTTPS ONLY.

 

 

  • Adding a location to your Tweets can leave you exposed to predators. If you choose to check this box, please make sure you are aware of who is following you and feel comfortable with them knowing where you are.
  • When you protect your Tweets you are prohibiting them from being seen by the public. This is a good option if you only want to tweet to a specified group of people.
    NOTE: Tweets posted prior to protecting your Tweets may still be publicly visible in some places.
  •  Selecting HTTPS ONLY will help protect your account information by using a secure connection where possible to keep things encrypted.

Blocking a user on Twitter
Blocking a user on Twitter will prevent them from following you and mentioning/replying to you in Tweets. Twitter does not notify a user when you block them. Please be aware that if you don’t protect your Tweets, they will still be visible to the users you block.

To block a user:

  • Go to the profile page of the person you wish to block.
  • Click the person icon (see below).
  • Select Block from the options listed in the drop-down menu.

 

 

Remember, it is always recommended that you not only limit the people that can access your information on ANY type of social networking site, but that you limit the information you provide.

Choosing options like protecting your tweets or hiding your location are good practices, but even better is to share no unnecessary personal information on social networking sites that you would be uncomfortable being seen publicly. Limiting the personal information you share is the best way to maintain your privacy online and stay out of potentially dangerous situations.

Clear History/Cache on Mobile Devices

Quick steps to clear your browsing history on iPhone and Blackberry mobile devices.

 

iPhone

 

SelectSettings, then Safari.
Choose Clear History, then confirm Clear History.

 

Blackberry
Press Browser then select History.
Choose what time frame you wish to delete and click the red X.
Your browsing history is now deleted.

Clear History/Cache on Firefox for PC

Quick steps to clear your browsing history on Firefox (for PC).

From an open Firefox browser, click Tools.

 

Click Options and the following box pops up.

 

Within the drop down box Firefox will select which option you would like.
From there, click the Clear Recent History link.

 

Once you have selected which Time Range to Clear, click the link for Remove Individual Cookies.
Click Remove All Cookies to clear all of the cookies within your browser.

 

Clear History/Cache on Firefox for Mac

Quick steps to clear your browsing history on Firefox (for Mac).

 

Click on Firefox on the top and select Preferences.

 

Select the Privacy tab, and the following appears:

 

Choose the setting to manage your browsing history.
From here, you can also clear your recent history or remove individual cookies for further security.
The following screen-shots will walk you through this process.

 

Click Clear Recent History and select the time range to clear.

 

Click Remove individual cookies and select Remove All Cookies.

 

Select either Remove Cookie to remove individual cookies or Remove All Cookiesto clear all of your cookies.

 

To turn off Remember Passwords for Sites, simply click the check box next to it. If you want to keep it on, but set up exceptions for sites that you want to retain saved passwords for, then you can set that up through the Exceptions button on the right.

 

 

 

Clear History/Cache on Internet Explorer

Quick steps to clear your browsing history on Internet Explorer.

 

On an Internet Explorer 7 browser page, click on Tools.

 

Scroll down and click Internet Options and the following box will appear:

 

Click Delete and the Delete Browsing History menu will appear.

 

You can also set a specific time frame that you would like Internet Explorer 7 to save or delete browsing history.

 

 

Clear History/Cache on Safari

Quick steps to clear your browsing history on Safari.

 

lick Safari and scroll to Preferences.

 

On the General tab.

 

Click the Security tab and choose whether to block or allow cookies.

 

Once all settings have been set, go to History and scroll to Clear History.

 

To clear the cache, go to Safari and scroll to Empty Cache.

 

Click the Empty button and you are now ready to go.

 

Adult Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse

Survivors of childhood sexual abuse experience an array of overwhelming and intense feelings. These may include feelings of fear, guilt, and shame. Abusers have been known to tell children that it is the fault of the child that they are abused, shifting the blame away from the abuser, where it belongs, and placing it on the child. Along with this, abusers may threaten or bribe the child into not speaking up; convincing the child that he or she will never be believed.i The reaction of a survivor’s friends and family to the disclosure of the abuse also has the potential to trigger immense feelings of guilt, same and distrust, particularly if those individuals denied that the abuse was taking place, or chose to ignore it.

While each individual’s experiences and reactions are unique, there are some responses to child sexual abuse that are common to many survivors:—i

  • Low self-esteem or self-hatred
  • Survivors may suffer from depression
  • Guilt, shame and blame
    • Survivors may feel guilt or shame because they made no direct attempt to stop the abuse or because they experienced physical pleasure
  • Sleep disturbances / dblue ribbonisorders
    • Survivors may have trouble sleeping because of the trauma, anxiety or may directly be related to the experience they had as a child; children may be sexually abused in their own beds.
  • Lack of trust for anyone
    • Many survivors were betrayed by the very people they are dependent upon (family, teachers etc.) who cared for them, who insisted they loved them even while abusing them; learning to trust can be extremely difficult under these circumstances.
    • 93% of victims under the age of 18 know their attacker.—-ii
  • Revictimization
    • Many survivors as adults find themselves in abusive, dangerous situations or relationships.
    • Woman who were sexually assaulted before the age of 18 [are] twice as likely to report being raped as adults.—-iii
  • Flashbacks
    • Many survivors re-experience the sexual abuse as if it were occurring at that moment, usually accompanied by visual images of the abuse. These flashes of images are often triggered by an event, action, or even a smell that is reminiscent of the sexual abuse of the abuser.
  • Dissociation
    • Many survivors go through a process where the mind distances itself from the experience because it is too much for the psyche to process at the time. This loss of connection with thoughts, memories, feelings, actions or sense of identity, is a coping mechanism and may affect aspects of a survivor’s functioning.
  • Sexuality / Intimacy
    • Many survivors have to deal with the fact that their first sexual encounter was a result of abuse. Such memories may interfere with the survivor’s ability to engage in sexual relationships, which may bring about feelings of fright, frustration, or being ashamed.

Adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse often adopt coping mechanisms (or survival strategies) to guards against feelings of terror and helplessness that they may have felt as a child. These past feelings can still have influence over the life and present behavior of an adult survivor. Here are some common coping mechanismsi:

  • Grieving / Mourning
    • Many things were — childhood experiences, trust, innocence, relationships with family members. The survivor may feel a deep sadness, jealousy, anger or longing for something never had.
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
    • The abuse of substances can act as an escape from the intense waves of feelings, the terror and helplessness.
  • Disordered Eating / Eating Disorders
    • Compulsive control of food intake can be a way of taking back control over the body that was denied during the abuse.
  • Self-injury
    • There are many ways survivors have coped with the feelings that can cause emotional or physical injury on the self. Burning or cutting are some ways for a survivor to relieve intense anxiety, triggered by memories of the abuse

 

Treatment—i
In most instances, the survivor never discussed the abuse with others while it was occurring. In fact, many survivors do not remember the abuse until years after it has occurred, and may never be able to clearly recall it. Usually, after being triggered by a memory, this individual learns how, as an adult, to deal with the effects of the abuse.

It is important to speak with someone, whether it be a friend or counselor, about the abuse and past and current feelings.

Community health centers, mental health clinics and family service centers may have counselors who have worked with survivors before. They may also be able to refer you to a self-help group.

If you are an adult dealing with the effects of childhood sexual abuse, please remember that you are not responsible for the abuse and that you are not alone. You can overcome the effects the abuse may have on your life. Please call the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800.656.HOPE) or visit the Online Hotline. It’s never too late to get help.

i—Adult Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse. Dr. Carol Boulware, MFT, Ph.D. 2006.http://www.psychotherapist.net/adultsurvivors.html

ii—-U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. 2000 Sexual Assault of Young Children as Reported to Law Enforcement. 2000.

iiiExtent, Nature, and Consequences of Rape Victimization: Findings From the National Violence Against Women Survey. U.S. Department of Justice: Office of Justice Programs: National Institute of Justice. 2006. http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/nij

 

This product was supported by grant number 2009-D1-BX-K023 awarded by the Office for Victims of Crime, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this product are those of the contributors and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Acquaintance Rape

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Definition:

Acquaintance assault involves coercive sexual activities that occur against a person’s will by means of force, violence, duress, or fear of bodily injury. These sexual activities are imposed upon them by someone they know (a friend, date, acquaintance, etc.).

Key Reminders:

  • A prior or current relationship or previous acts of intimacy are insufficient indicators of consent.
  • Verbal consent must be obtained both in each instance of sexual intimacy and as the level of sexual intimacy increases (e.g., moving from kissing to petting, from petting to oral sex, from oral sex to intercourse or anal sex, etc.).
  • Like other forms of sexual assault, acquaintance assault is motivated by a need to control, to humiliate, and to harm.

Obstacles to Coping & Recovery:

  • Common social myths (e.g. the attack was incited through suggestive dress or intimate acts such as kissing)
  • Fear of:
    1. Retaliation
    2. Subsequent harassment
    3. Future harm
    4. Harassment from family and friends of the person responsible for the assault
  • Returning to a normal routine (this is especially the case if the assailant is a part of the victim’s daily routine)
  • Family/friends may blame the survivor, or, worse, they may support the assailant.

NOTE: Despite the violation and reality of physical and emotional trauma, victims of acquaintance assault often do not identify their experience as sexual assault. Instead of focusing on the violation of the sexual assault, victims of acquaintance rape often blame themselves for the assault.

Physical & Emotional Reactions:

  • Sleeping and eating disturbances
  • Mood swings
  • Feelings of humiliation and self-blame
  • Nightmares
  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Fear
  • Helplessness
  • Substance abuse
  • Suicidal ideation/behavior, self-harm
  • Depression

Continued Trauma:

Because the perpetrators are known to their victims and are often someone with whom they socialize, victims of acquaintance sexual assault often have to encounter their assailants after the rape. Fear of such encounters can cause increased distress and humiliation for the victims.

Prevention:

In order to prevent acquaintance sexual assault we all need to be aware of the three stages of acquaintance rape so that, whenever possible, we can avoid or prevent such an event from occurring.

Three Stages of Acquaintance Rape:

  1. Intrusion- Attempt by the offender to violate the victim’s personal space and level of comfort. May draw close by revealing personal information or through “accidental” touches and stares.
  2. Desensitization- Occurs when the victim feels comfortable with the offender and has come to regard intrusive actions as no longer or, at least less, threatening. The victim of the desensitization may feel uneasy but convinces himself or herself that the feeling is unfounded.
  3. Isolation- The offender uses the victim’s trust to isolate him or her from others.

Social Norms:

Social norms put pressure on many of us to be polite and passive. Relying on these norms, many victims of such assaults may suppress feelings of fear and discomfort in an attempt not to offend. Acquaintance assault prevention demands that we set aside such social norms and listen to our instinctual sense of fear and discomfort.

Learn more about the laws in your state through RAINN’s state database.