What is Sexual Assault?
Sexual Assault occurs anytime a person is forced, coerced, and/or manipulated into unwanted sexual activity. This includes rape, incest, child sexual assault, ritual abuse, date and acquaintance rape, statutory rape, marital or partner rape, sexual exploitation, sexual contact, sexual harassment, exposure, and voyeurism.
If You Are A Victim of Sexual Assault
Go to a safe place. Call someone you trust for emotional support. If you are a resident of the tri-county area, please contact PAR’s 24 hr. hotline at (843) 745-0144.
Do not shower. Valuable evidence of the assault remains on your body and clothes. Do not eat, drink, smoke, comb your hair, shower, urinate, defecate, or douche before going to the emergency room. However, if you have already done these things, please don’t let this stop you from seeking medical care. Also, do not change clothes after the assault. Take a change of clothes with you to the emergency room. However, if you have already changed, place the clothes you were wearing during the assault in a paper bag and take them to the hospital with you.
Seek medical attention.** A doctor or nurse can check for injuries that may not be visible. Hospital staff can also treat you for possible STDs and provide medication to prevent pregnancy (Emergency Contraception). Hospital staff may also perform a rape exam to collect evidence.
If you believe you were given a date rape drug wait to urinate until you arrive at the hospital. However, if you can’t wait, collect your first urine in a clean container with a lid and take it to the emergency room or police station with you. Also, be sure to tell the emergency room personnel your symptoms and that you believe you were given a date rape drug so they can take the necessary samples.
**If you chose to go to the hospital, all victims of sexual assault in Charleston, Berkeley, and Dorchester Counties must respond to MUSC’s Downtown Adult ER.
Victims of sexual violence also have the choice to . . .
Report the sexual assault to the police or make an Anonymous Report. Remember that making a report does not mean that you must press charges.
Seek counseling. You have been through a traumatic experience and may need help dealing with your feelings. PAR advocates can refer you to professionals in your area that specialize in helping victims of sexual assault.
It’s Not Just StrangersMost parents tell their children to “Beware of strangers.” Unfortunately, when it comes to rape, you’re in much greater danger from people you know than people you don’t. Studies show that four out of five rapes are committed by someone the victim knows. These men are generally dates, friends of friends, or friends of relatives – men you know but don’t know very well. You are likely to feel yourself in an awkward position: for most women the tendency is to trust acquaintances because they trust the friend or relative who introduced them.
If you have gone out with someone a couple of times, or known someone for a while at work or school, they probably don’t fit the stereotype of a brute lurking in the shadows waiting to jump you. You are likely to want to dismiss any feelings that make you uncomfortable by telling yourself that you are “just being silly.” If you get a “feeling” that someone is not to be trusted, don’t ignore it! He may try to talk you into going somewhere or doing something which is not quite appropriate to your relationship, make suggestive remarks, or appear unannounced at your house “just to talk” or to “see how you are doing.”
It may seem hard to follow through on a vague sense of uneasiness: “After all, he is a friend of so and so’s” or “He’s such a nice guy, this can’t be happening.” In these situations, pay attention to your instincts. If you are uneasy, do something about it. Don’t allow someone to assume or force a relationship which you don’t want.
Many women say they don’t know anyone who would commit a rape. Young women, in particular, often feel immune from rape, but the Association of American Colleges has reported that gang rapes after fraternity parties occurred every week on some campuses. Other researchers found that one in three college males said they would commit rape if they knew they could get away with it. Clearly, rape is a crime committed by affluent people as well as by poorer, less privileged members of our society.
What Should You Do?
When they first become uncomfortable because of a man’s behavior, many women are reluctant to react strongly. They don’t want to be rude or make a scene; they want to deny their discomfort, make excuses for him “He’s just drinking, he doesn’t mean anything really”, and deny what’s happening. But if a man is aggressive, hostile (even though smiling), and clearly disregarding your wishes, follow your instincts. What can you do when the threat becomes real – when the man begins to openly advance on you?
If others are nearby, speak loudly and firmly “Keep you hands off me!” or “I don’t know you! Why are you following me?”
If no other people are visible but may be within earshot, shout for help. Be clear: “Help! Rape!” (Yelling “Fire” may be more effective since most people will respond quickly to that.)
If no one is near enough to help you, quickly decide if running will help. Where can you go? Can you run that far? If so, do it.
If you are in a house or apartment, try to get out and reach someone else’s door while shouting for help.
If your attacker is armed, don’t try to disarm him or forcibly resist him. Stay alive. There are times when resistance is not possible, and though it is hard to accept, you must realize that there may be nothing you can do until after the fact.
Myths and Facts about Sexual Assault
Women who wear seductive clothing are asking to be raped.
No woman ever wants to be forced into having sex, no matter how she is dressed.
Many women falsely report rapes to get back at men.
Usually the opposite is true. Rape often goes unreported because women feel embarrassed, ashamed or afraid they won’t be believed. Studies have found that the number of false reports are not statistically relevant. It is more likely that a victim will recant due to pressure from others, or fear of reporting, than it is they will falsely report a rape.
Rape only happens to single women who aren’t careful.
All types of people (men, women and children) are attacked, in all types of circumstances.