How to prevent a potential rape

It happens on streets, in cars, in schools, in parks, and in alleys. The rapist has no regard for age, race, or social status. Rape is not a selective crime. It is in most cases, random. Personal safety, however, must begin with the individual. Help protect yourself by taking the steps to protect yourself from sexual assault.

Safety at Home

  • Replace or re-key locks when you move into a new home or apartment. Install a door viewer and a 1-inch deadbolt lock and use them. Look before opening your door to anyone.
  • Keep doors locked at all times and instruct children never open your door to anyone.
  • Require all strangers to show identification. If you haven’t called for a repairman, don’t let one inside. Leave him waiting outside and call his place of business to verify his reason for being in your area.

Rape Risk Reduction

Rape is the fastest rising violent crime in America. What can we do to prevent this crime from happening to you? Listed below are safety tips for you to follow that can reduce your risk of assault and/or rape:

  • Secure your car and home. Keep a large flashlight, a cell phone, a map of the city you are in, and $5 to $10 with you when in a car. The flashlight can be used as a light or weapon; the phone is to call for help; and the money is for car emergencies only (e.g., new windshield wipers or gas). Always keep your doors and windows locked and evaluate the effectiveness of the locks. Never open your door to a stranger and never tell them you are alone.
  • Avoid unsafe situations and strangers. If you are being followed, go to the nearest police or fire department, or any place where several people will be (convenience stores, gas station, etc.) Walk in groups at night.
  • Flee if you are in a potentially dangerous situation. Yell or scream to attract attention. Carry a whistle that will make a loud noise.
  • Engage in passive or active resistance. Passive resistance is to think and talk your way out of a situation. Active resistance is to react immediately to startle your attacker. Use any available item (hairspray, keys, purse, etc.) as a weapon.
  • Think! Keep using your mind to think of alternative actions for escape.
  • You are responsible for your own safety. Call your local police department or rape crisis center and set up a schedule for a law enforcement officer to speak to your employees or neighbors.
  • Don’t let a stranger inside your home to use the phone; make the call for him.
  • Never admit that you or a neighbor are home alone.
  • Women living alone should use only initials on mailboxes and in telephone listings.
  • Leave outside lights on at night, and keep lights on in more than 1 room.
  • If you receive an obscene phone call just hang up and don’t react.

Safety Tips While Walking

  • When possible, avoid walking alone. Walk with someone, or walk in areas where other people are near.
  • Stay in well-lighted areas, away from alleys, bushes, and entryways.
  • Avoid shortcuts through parks, vacant lots, and other deserted places.
  • Don’t hitchhike or accept rides from strangers.
  • If a driver stops to ask you directions, avoid getting near the car.
  • If you are being followed, go to the nearest business or residence for help.
  • If you are harassed by the occupants of a car, simply turn and walk the other direction. The driver will have to turn around to follow you.
  • Hold your purse close, not dangling, and avoid carrying extra money or valuables on your person.
  • When you return home, have your door key ready so that you can enter without delay.
  • Don’t walk or jog at night wearing headphones. You need to be able to hear someone driving up or walking up behind you.

Above all, be aware of the people around you. Be aware of your surroundings and the total environment.

Safety Tips While Driving

  • Never pick up hitchhikers.
  • Keep car doors locked at all times. While walking to your car, look under car.
  • Before entering your car, look into the back seat and on floor board.
  • Always have your keys ready to unlock the car door and enter without delay. Never walk across the parking lot digging in your purse for your keys; have them in your hand before leaving the building.
  • Make certain that you have enough gas to get where you are going and always keep your vehicle in good running condition.
  • If possible, travel on well lit, busy streets and avoid isolated back roads and short cuts.
  • If your are being followed, drive to the nearest open business for help, or drive to the police or fire station.
  • Never leave your house keys with your car keys at a service station or parking lot.
  • Women driving alone should never stop to aid a stranger in a stalled vehicle. Proceed to an open business, and report the stalled vehicle to the police.
  • If you have trouble, raise the hood, and stay in your vehicle. When someone offers assistance, roll the window down just enough to talk to them. Ask them to stop at the first phone to call a relative, friend, garage, or the police for you. Never get into a stranger’s car.

Safety Tips for Youth

  • Children should be made aware of the dangers of accepting rides from or talking to strangers.
  • Children should be encouraged to talk with their parents if they ever have a problem, not only with a stranger but also with a friend or relative.
  • Children should know a safe, well-traveled route to take to and from school. Isolated areas should be avoided.
  • Teenage baby-sitters should not accept jobs with people they do not know, or who have not been referred by people they know.
  • Babysitters should call the police immediately if anything suspicious happens at the house. They should never open the door for strangers.
  • The sitter’s parents should be called at the end of the evening to inform them that the sitter will be home shortly.
  • You may follow the advise and safety tips recommended and still find yourself confronted by an attacker. If it happens, you will have only seconds to decide your method of defense, so you must prepare mentally for the possibility of rape happening to you.

Reporting a Rape

The police can only arrest a criminal if they are made aware of the offense. If you are raped, call 911 or the Police Department at 414-351-9900 immediately. Do not change clothes or take a bath or shower and do not eat, smoke, or chew gum. All physical evidence, including seminal fluids, hair, blood types, and scrapings of flesh form the victim’s nails are used in court. Avoid using the bathroom prior to the exam if possible.

Information Most Needed by the Police

  • Car license plate, and the make, model, and color of the car
  • Race of assailant
  • Approximate age, weight, and height
  • Hair color and length of hair
  • Color of eyes
  • Clothing
  • Any unusual marks, scars, tattoos, rings, etc.
  • Any facial hair or odors

Practice being observant so that if you are raped or attacked you will be able to remember and identify the assailant.

How to prevent a potential rape

Learning about rape prevention represents something women can do to proactively protect themselves against a potential assault. Keep in mind that even when you take all the precautions necessary to protect yourself and stay safe, you still may not prevent rape. Victims never bear any of the responsibility for sexual assault; the perpetrator bears all responsibility and criminal guilt.

Rape Prevention Tips and Advice

Women can learn about rape prevention and use this knowledge to help them stay safe in many situations where sexual assault could occur. You can help prevent rape by taking these steps:

  • Listen to your intuition when alone – Although you can never fully protect yourself from potential sexual assault, it’s important that you avoid dangerous situations. Stay aware of your surroundings, avoid isolated public areas, walk with determination even if you’re lost, trust your gut, keep your cell phone charged and with you, avoid going somewhere alone with a person you don’t know well, don’t use music headphones when walking alone.
  • Reduce risk in social situations – Go to parties and social events with a group of friends and stay with the group. Do not leave your drink unattended. This leaves a potential rapist an opportunity to slip a date rape drug in it. Take it with you to go to the ladies room or anywhere else, even for a short time. If you do leave it, just get a new drink. Do not accept drinks from a stranger or someone you just met.
  • Don’t reveal too much on social media – Some social media platforms, such as Foursquare and others, use GPS locating service to tell friends where to find you. But think about it, would-be sexual predators can use these tools to find you as well. Turn off the location feature of these mobile apps on your cell phone before going out.

What to Do When Being Raped

Despite your best efforts to prevent rape, you still need to know what to do when being raped. You could find yourself in a situation where you feel pressured into sexual activities that you don’t want by a friend or acquaintance. Alternatively, a stranger could break into your home or grab you on the street. You need to know what to do to try to get out of these situations — just in case:

  • State clearly and unequivocally that you do not want to engage in sex of any kind with the person. Remember you do not have any obligation to participate in any activity that makes you feel uncomfortable.
  • Arrange a special code word with a close friend or family member that you can say if talking on the phone to them to indicate that you are in a dangerous situation and need help.
  • Make up an excuse as to why you need to leave or that you are having your period, or even that you have a sexually transmitted disease.
  • Look for an escape route or way to get out of the room.
  • Call attention to yourself by screaming or making a scene and yell for help.
  • If someone actually attacks you, scratch him with your fingernails and pull his hair, bite, and kick – do anything to make him let go even for a second and then run. When you get away, go directly to the police. Do not wash your hands or do anything to destroy or contaminate any physical evidence you may have on your body (i.e. perpetrator’s skin under your nails).
  • As a last resort, try to humanize yourself in the eyes of your attacker. Try to make the attacker see you as a person rather than objectify you. Talk about your family, your kids, your mother. Tell him he is better than the way he is behaving.
  • If your attacker is armed with a gun or knife, the above tactics may not work effectively. Any act of aggression may cause him to become more violent and angry. However, a last resort, violent attack may represent your only hope of escaping rape. If you choose to physically attack an armed aggressor, your action must be unexpected, sudden, and intensely painful. Target his most vulnerable spots, such as testicles, eye sockets, instep, or windpipe with a lethal intention.

Perhaps the two most important rape prevention tips you can remember are: trust your intuition and gut feelings and remain fully aware of your surroundings when alone and in social settings with friends, at all times.

This content is from
pages 330 to 331 of Where Women Have No Doctor

  • Chapter 19: Rape and Sexual Assault
  • Kinds of Rape and Sexual Assault
  • How to Avoid Rape
  • Self Defense for Women
  • If You Are Sexually Assaulted
  • What to Do if You Have Been Raped
  • Health Problems of Rape
  • Working for Change

There is no one right or wrong way to behave to avoid rape. But there are some things a woman can do that may make her less likely to suffer some kinds of rape. What a woman does depends on how well she knows the man, how afraid she is, and how much danger she thinks she is in. Remember, if a woman is raped, it is not because she failed to avoid the rape, but because someone stronger forced himself on her.

Contents

  • 1 These ideas may help any woman avoid rape
    • 1.1 More Information
    • 1.2 Learn to trust your feelings.
    • 1.3 Be prepared to get away:
  • 2 Help children avoid sexual abuse

These ideas may help any woman avoid rape

How to prevent a potential rape
Protect yourselves.

Work with others.

More Information
  • Carry something with you that will make a loud noise, like a whistle. Also, carry something that you can use to defend yourself. This could be a stick, something you can spray in his eyes, or even some hot spicy powder—like hot pepper or chili powder—to blow in his eyes.
  • If you are attacked, scream as loudly as you can or use your whistle. If this does not work, hit back quickly to hurt him, so that you may be able to get away.

Learn to trust your feelings.

Most women are taught from a very early age to always be polite and to try not to offend anyone. So when someone does something that makes a woman feel uncomfortable, she often has a hard time acting on her feelings. But be careful if you:

  • have a lasting feeling that something is not right.
  • feel afraid, or like you want to leave.
  • feel uncomfortable with comments or suggestions the person is making.
  • dislike the physical contact he makes.

How to prevent a potential rape

It can be hard to act on these feelings because you may be afraid of what other people will think. In addition, if the person is someone you know or care about, you may not want to admit that he would do you harm. But it is always best to trust your feelings and get out of a situation that feels uncomfortable before anything bad happens.

Be prepared to get away:

  • Avoid going somewhere alone with a person who makes you feel uncomfortable or who you do not know well.
  • Always have a way to get home if you decide you need to leave. It is better not to go somewhere if you will not be able to get back without the person’s help.
  • Tell the person that his comments or touch make you uncomfortable. If he does not change the way he is acting you should get away from him as soon as possible.

If he has power over you (for example if he is your boss, your doctor, a teacher, or an official):

Be aware that if a man cannot gain control over a woman through sexual violence, he may try to gain control over her in other ways.

  • The first time he does something that makes you feel uncomfortable, tell him to stop. If he is trying to take advantage of his power, he will look for someone who is easy to frighten. Let him know that you are not frightened. He is less likely to treat you badly (for example to fire you, refuse you medical care, or deny your request) if you can get him to stop bothering you before he has done anything that makes him look foolish.
  • Talk to other women about him. You are probably not the only one he has bothered. If you must continue to deal with him, try to bring a friend with you so you are never alone with him. Warn other women to be careful.

Help children avoid sexual abuse

Sometimes sexual abuse of children continues for many years. A girl may be told that she will be harmed or even killed if she tells anyone about it.

femifesto is a Toronto-based, grassroots feminist collective that works to shift rape culture to consent culture.

How to prevent a potential rape

At 18 years old, exhausted by all the things I was being told I should have done to protect myself from being sexually assaulted by a friend, I wrote a satirical list of tips on “How to Avoid Rape.” The list parodied the “tips” given to me, which always made me feel as if the responsibility for the assault was mine, rather than the perpetrator’s.

Last week CTV News reported a list of safety tips issued by the Ottawa police, that sounded all too familiar. The list of tips aiming “to help females protect themselves” was released as a response to the two sexual assaults reported to Ottawa police on July 14. The advice included suggestions such as avoiding “walls, doorways and pillars” at night.

I immediately thought of the list I made in high school and how ridiculous it was that it is still relevant over 15 years later. These kinds of safety tips shame and blame survivors. They fall to recognize institutional barriers and that the responsibility for the assault is on the perpetrator. So, along with femifesto, a grassroots consent culture collective, and several rad Canadian feminists, we co-created an updated, intersectional version of my original tip sheet in the form of a handy infographic:

-Farrah Khan, femifesto

How to prevent a potential rape

Image Transcript:

How To Not Get Raped: the smart way

1. Start Young: Learn self defence but know that you are physically limited and cannot defend yourself. Learn not to talk to strangers before you learn to talk. Learn not to walk alone before you learn to walk. Especially learn how to be accountable for your rapist’s actions.

2. Trust Your Instincts: Avoid all environments where you feel unsafe and where sexual assaults commonly take place: walls, doorways, pillars, streets, sidewalks, corridors, elevators, lobbies, parking lots, cars, public transit, cabs, parks, bars, restaurants, apartments, houses, offices, universities, colleges, nursing homes and government institutions.

3. Always Conform: Don’t embrace the power and pleasures of your own desires. Don’t dress to impress – yourself. Don’t find yourself gorgeous and alive and wanting to share that. Don’t wear flirty skirts or revealing dresses. On the other hand do not be tomboyish. Avoid any expression that does not conform to gender norms as some people may use rape as a way to “discipline” you.

4. Don’t Ask For It: Do not smile or be charming. Be pleasant and polite to everyone you meet — if you’re hostile, you may be asking for assault. Also, be sure you don’t lead on your attacker. Never invite anyone into your home, but never be alone. Don’t be coy. Don’t be brazen. Don’t confuse anyone — mixed messages can be dangerous.

5. Protect Yourself: If you live alone, install extra locks, buy a dog, and carry a small weapon. If you live with others, carry the dog and weapon around your home. Also, make sure you don’t carry the dog or weapon with you, as weapons could be used against you.

6. Date Smart: Don’t go on dates alone, you could be attacked. Don’t go on dates in groups because then you could be attacked by a number of people. But don’t decline date offers either — insulting a potential suitor is just asking for trouble.

7. If Attacked: Scream and struggle unless your attacker is the type who will kill you for fighting back. If you stay still for survival, make sure that they wouldn’t have let you go if you had resisted. Talk kindly to them, but don’t say anything that might sound bad in court. Protect yourself from injury, but make sure you get some bruises to count as evidence.

8. Call the Police: Unless you face institutional barriers to accessing justice i.e. Aboriginal peoples, women of colour, persons with a disability, trans* people, queer folks, sex workers, Muslim women that wear the niqab, youth, low income individuals, homeless people, newcomer women, those with precarious status, deaf people. you get the picture.

9. Avoid Rapists: Most importantly stay away from those who commonly commit assaults: strangers, family members, friends, partners, spouses, co-workers, bosses, clients, teachers, doctors, teammates, and police officers. Be extra careful during peak times when rapes occur i.e. daytime, nighttime, dawn, afternoon, early evening, tea time, nap time. If you suspect you are being followed, go to a well lit area: unless you can’t because it’s dark outside — then set off a flare gun or light a torch. (Why are you outside when it’s dark anyway?)

Created by femifesto: Sasha Elford, Shannon Giannitsopolou, Farrah Khan

In collaboration with: Rebecca Faria, Stephanie Guthrie, Julie Lalonde, Chanelle Gallant, and Lisa Mederios.

Through a Rapist’s Eyes

A group of rapists and date rapists in prison were interviewed on what they look for in a potential victim and here are some interesting facts :

1) The first thing men look for in a potential victim is hairstyle. They are most likely to go after a woman with a ponytail, bun, braid or other hairstyle that can easily be grabbed . They are also likely to go after a woman with long hair. Women with short hair are not common targets.

2) The second thing men look for is clothing. They will look for women who’s clothing is easy to remove quickly. Many of them carry scissors around specifically to cut clothing.

3) They also look for women on their cell phone, searching through their purse or doing other activities while walking because they are off guard and can be easily overpowered.

4) Men are most likely to attack & rape in the early morning, between 5:00a.m. and 8:30a.m.

5) The number one place women are abducted from/attacked is grocery store parking lots . Number two is office parking lots/garages. Number three is public restrooms.

6) The thing about these men is that they are looking to grab a woman and quickly move her to another location where they don’t have to worry about getting caught.

7) Only 2% said they carried weapons because rape carries a 3-5 year sentence but rape with a weapon is 15-20 years.

8) If you put up any kind of a fight at all, they get discouraged because it only takes a minute or two for them to realize that going after you isn’t worth it because it will be time-consuming .

9) These men said they would not pick on women who have umbrellas , or other similar objects that can be used from a distance, in their hands.

Keys are not a deterrent because you have to get really close to the attacker to use them as a weapon. So, the idea is to convince these guys you’re not worth it.

10) Several defense mechanisms he taught us are: If someone is following behind you on a street or in a garage or with you in an elevator or stairwell, look them in the face and ask them a question, like what time is it, or make general small talk: “I can’t believe it is so cold out here”, “we’re in for a bad winter.” Now you’ve seen their face and could identify them in a line-up; you lose appeal as a target.

11) If someone is coming toward you , hold out your hands in front of you and yell STOP or STAY BACK ! Most of the rapists this man talked to said they’d leave a woman alone if she yelled or showed that she would not be afraid to fight back . Again, they are looking for an EASY target.

12) If you carry pepper spray (this instructor was a huge advocate of it and carries it with him wherever he goes,) yell I HAVE PEPPER SPRAY and holding it out will be a deterrent.

13) If someone grabs you, you can’t beat them with strength but you can by outsmarting them. If you are grabbed around the waist from behind, pinch the attacker either under the arm (between the elbow and armpit) OR in the upper inner thigh VERY VERY HARD. One woman in a class this guy taught told him she used the underarm pinch on a guy who was trying to date rape her and was so upset she broke through the skin and tore out muscle strands – the guy needed stitches. Try pinching yourself in those places as hard as you can stand it; it hurts.

14) After the initial hit, always GO for the GROIN . I know from a particularly unfortunate experience that if you slap a guy’s parts it is extremely painful. You might think that you’ll anger the guy and make him want to hurt you more, but the thing these rapists told our instructor is that they want a woman who will not cause a lot of trouble. Start causing trouble, and he’s out of there.

15) When the guy puts his hands up to you , grab his first two fingers and bend them back as far as possible with as much pressure pushing down on them as possible. The instructor did it to me without using much pressure, and I ended up on my knees and both knuckles cracked audibly.

16) Of course the things we always hear still apply. Always be aware of your surroundings, take someone with you if you can and if you see any odd behavior, don’t dismiss it, go with your instincts.

You may feel a little silly at the time, but you’d feel much worse if the guy really was trouble.

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As rape becomes recognized as a public health issue, new paradigms must be constructed to discover viable solutions to this highly prevalent problem. Although the injury prevention field has begun to examine rape and offer solutions, physical injuries surrounding rape tend to become the focus in injury prevention literature, thereby minimizing the trauma of rape itself. This article applies William Haddon’s ten general strategies for injury prevention to rape, in order to shift our focus away from women and their behavior onto the systemic cause of rape. These strategies have the advantage of encompassing a wide variety of injury reduction measures from many hazards and have provided the means to conceptualize solutions to an extensive range of issues. The application of these strategies emphasizes sociocultural factors and perpetrator, not victim, responsibility. Through this process, a broader range of normative and structural changes can be identified to promote rape prevention.

The Journal of Public Health Policy (JPHP) is an accessible source of scholarly articles on the epidemiologic and social foundations of public health policy, rigorously edited, and progressive. JPHP aims to create a more inclusive public health policy dialogue, within nations and among them. It broadens public health policy debates beyond the ‘health system’ to examine all forces and environments that impinge on the health of populations. It provides an exciting platform for airing controversy and framing policy debates – honing policies to solve new problems and unresolved old ones. JPHP is formally affiliated with the World Federation of Public Health Associations.

Palgrave Macmillan is a global academic publisher, serving learning and scholarship in higher education and the professional world. We publish textbooks, journals, monographs, professional and reference works in print and online. Our programme focuses on the Humanities, the Social Sciences and Business. As part of the Macmillan Group, we represent an unbroken tradition of 150 years of independent academic publishing, continually reinventing itself for the future. Our goal is to be publisher of choice for all our stakeholders – for authors, customers, business partners, the academic communities we serve and the staff who work for us. We aim to do this by reaching the maximum readership with works of the highest quality.

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The only person responsible for committing sexual assault is a perpetrator, but all of us have the ability to look out for each other’s safety. Whether it’s giving someone a safe ride home from a party or directly confronting a person who is engaging in threatening behavior, anyone can help prevent sexual violence.

What is a bystander?

A bystander is a person who is present when an event takes place but isn’t directly involved. Bystanders might be present when sexual assault or abuse occurs—or they could witness the circumstances that lead up to these crimes.

On average there are over 293,000 victims (age 12 or older) of rape and sexual assault each year in the U.S. The majority of these crimes are committed by someone the victim knows. Given these circumstances, it’s important to recognize the role bystanders can play in preventing crimes like sexual assault.

What can I do to prevent sexual assault?

You may have heard the term “bystander intervention” to describe a situation where someone who isn’t directly involved steps in to change the outcome. Stepping in may give the person you’re concerned about a chance to get to a safe place or leave the situation. You don’t have to be a hero or even stand out from the crowd to make a big difference in someone’s life. Take steps to protect someone who may be at risk in a way that fits your comfort level.

Whether you’re taking home a friend who has had too much to drink, explaining that a rape joke isn’t funny, or getting security involved when someone is behaving aggressively, choosing to step in can affect the way those around you think about and respond to sexual violence.

Why don’t people help more often?

It’s not always easy to step in, even if you know it’s the right thing to do. Some common reasons bystanders remain on the sidelines include:

  • “I don’t know what to do or what to say.”
  • “I don’t want to cause a scene.”
  • “It’s not my business.”
  • “I don’t want my friend to be mad at me.”
  • “I’m sure someone else will step in.”

It’s okay to have these thoughts, but it’s important to realize that your actions can have a big impact. In many situations, bystanders have the opportunity to prevent crimes like sexual assault from happening in the first place.

Your actions matter

Whether or not you were able to change the outcome of the situation, by stepping in you are helping change the way people think about their roles in preventing sexual violence. If you suspect that someone you know has been sexually assaulted, there are steps you can take to support that person.

Only a small percentage of rape education programs are designed specifically for men, but review of this limited body of work suggests three primary conclusions. First, some programs have demonstrated success in changing men’s beliefs and attitudes regarding rape. Second, some programs have also reduced men’s self-reported likelihood to rape. Third, there is evidence to suggest that some prevention programs might reduce men’s actual sexual aggression. Such findings are certainly promising, and this remains one of the most important research directions in this field. However, there are unique issues that must be considered when reviewing this body of research.

A number of educational interventions have also been designed for audiences of women only. At this point, there is a rather persuasive body of evidence to suggest that women’s participation in risk reduction programs (including self-defense training) decreases their likelihood of being sexually assaulted in the future. Research also documents other positive outcomes resulting from resistance training for women, including increased assertiveness, improved self-esteem, decreased anxiety, increased sense of perceived control, decreased fear of sexual assault, enhanced self-efficacy, improved physical competence/skills in self-defense, decreased avoidance behaviors (restricting activities such as walking alone), and increased participatory behaviors (behaviors demonstrating freedom of action). Because women with assault histories are at increased risk to be sexually assaulted in the future, they merit special consideration in the design of risk reduction programs.

Most rape education programs are actually designed for mixed-gender audiences, however, and the primary conclusion from evaluation research is that such programs can be effective in changing rape-supportive beliefs and/or attitudes over the short-term (several months to a year), but they have not generally been successful in changing beliefs and attitudes over the long-term. The research literature also offers suggestions regarding which specific components of educational programs are associated with positive changes. For example, educational programs that are longer appear to have more significant impact than shorter ones, as well as those facilitated by professionals and those that involve repeated exposure to programming. However, perhaps the most robust conclusion in this area is that single-gender programs are more effective than mixed-sex ones. In fact, many experts have suggested that it violates common sense to provide sexual assault education to mixed-gender audiences, given the very different relation of men and women to the issue.

This review thus provides suggestions for practitioners to design, implement, and evaluate rape prevention and risk reduction programs. These include designing a comprehensive prevention strategy with intervention at various levels of influence and careful consideration of program goals and methods for evaluating positive impact.

Resisting rape, according to an article in this month’s Cosmopolitan, is worthwhile and does not lead to further injury. The article cites a US study of 1.5m rape convictions over a decade which found that women who fought back tripled their chances of escape. How on earth this was calculated is not disclosed. One wonders whether resisting also trebled the chances of being killed. An analysis of the homicide statistics might be helpful here.

Crime prevention is all the rage at present and Scott Lindquist, author of The Date Rape Prevention Book (Sourcebooks, £10.99), prescribes the perfect no-cost strategy: women should defend themselves. He tells women to “outsmart” their attacker, to “take a risk and fight him off”, to “trust your instincts – if one tactic isn’t working, try another”.

“Make the most of the first precious minutes,” he advises. “At this time the rapist isn’t in total control, so your chances are highest.” The problem is that you won’t be in control, either: studies of both men and women who are attacked show they are often “frozen” in the first few minutes and cannot then resist.

Other advice is equally simplistic. Call the police and a trusted friend who can be with you immediately. However distressed you are, don’t have a bath. Call Rape Crisis. Such advice is all very well, but not very helpful. Calling Rape Crisis is unlikely to get a response when few services are funded sufficiently to be on call more than a few hours a day and many women do not feel up to speaking about the assault to anyone, let alone the police.

Generalising about resistance is also dangerous and distorting. It can be successful but it can also be life-threatening. In the 100 cases I studied for my book, Carnal Knowledge, I discovered that where women failed to escape, resistance often led to an escalation of violence, so could sometimes be a risky strategy. In such circumstances, surviving is more important than avoiding rape.

Such prescriptions also reinforce a common myth: that most rapes are by strangers. All the case studies quoted in Cosmopolitan involved such attacks – including a victim of the serial rapist Clive Barwell, who is said to have fought so hard that he ran off. Yet according to the most recent Home Office report, published last year, only 12% of reported rapes are by strangers; the other 88% are by acquaintances or partners which can make avoiding rape even more problematic. Contrary to popular belief, women attacked by partners or ex-partners suffer no less serious injuries and are more likely to be killed than women attacked by strangers. One woman I interviewed described how she had to have hospital treatment for concussion, a fractured cheekbone, black eyes and bruising. Another had passed out while being strangled by her ex-husband.

Some men who raped acquaintances did not need to use violence because the threat was sufficient. “He got a kettle of boiling water and threatened to throw it over me if I didn’t get undressed”; “He threatened to wake my children and rape me in front of them.”

Most women, when attacked by strangers, do resist when they can. In my survey, I found women did this in all sorts of ways: by screaming, fighting and biting, running away, refusing to cooperate, pretending they were pregnant or had Aids and by attempting to reason.

At times resisting worked, at times it didn’t. Much depended on where the assault took place. Most rapes are planned and rapists are careful to isolate their victim first. Resisting may be effective where there is an escape route but in an underground car park or deserted spot, or where faced with an assailant much stronger than oneself, it may not be practicable or sensible.

Rita described the effect her resistance had after she was dragged by a stranger from a bus stop. “I remember thinking what people say you should do if you are attacked. ‘I’d punch and kick him in the balls.’ So I punched him there and he grabbed my head and slammed it into the wall and called me a fucking bitch. I started to cry . he said if I didn’t climb over the gate before he counted to 10 he would kill me, then he started counting . He put his penis in my mouth and said that if I bit it, I was dead.”

Advising women to resist also implies that women need to be told what to do. It holds them responsible. Women are often blamed and blame themselves for rape. If a woman physically resists and is severely hurt, she is told she should have acted more passively. If she does not resist, she is seen as accepting the violence. It is a no-win situation.

It is surely time men stopped writing books about how women can resist rape and concentrated on how to stop rape. With a conviction rate in England and Wales at an all-time low (a mere 6% of reported rapes now result in conviction), and with women still subjected to demeaning and humiliating cross-examination in court, a first step would be to reform the court process.

Sue Lees is the author of Carnal Knowledge: Rape on Trial (Penguin).

Content Warning: Please note that reading the following false statements may be upsetting or triggering to some. We encourage you to proceed with caution and reach out to confidential resources if you need additional support.

Rape myths are false beliefs people hold about sexual assault that shift blame from the perpetrator to the survivor. Rape myths have grown out of the long-standing gender roles, acceptance of violence, and incorrect information concerning sexual violence that exist in our society.
These false statements not only shame survivors into silence; they also hurt our community’s general knowledge of sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking. The most effective way to confront and tackle rape myths is to educate yourself on the facts and challenge them when you encounter them.

Myth: Rape happens only to “certain” types of women.
Fact: Any person of any gender, age, race, class, religion, occupation, physical ability, sexual identity, or appearance can be raped. The perpetrator does not choose the victim because they are young, pretty, or provocatively dressed; the perpetrator chooses the victim who is vulnerable. The perpetrator may select a victim who is smaller or weaker than they are, who is alone or isolated, who is incapacitated or handicapped in some way, or who does not suspect what is about to happen.

Myth: Rape and sexual assault are about sexual attraction and gratification.
Fact: Rape and sexual assault are about control and domination.

Myth: It’s not really rape when a person changes their mind in the middle of sexual activity.
Fact: Consent is retractable; a person can change their mind at any time. Their partner is responsible for respecting their decision to stop.

Myth: When it comes to sex, men can be provoked to “a point of no return.”
Fact: Men are physically able to stop at any point during sexual activity. Rape is not an act of impulse or uncontrollable passion; it is an intentional act of violence. Perpetrators of rape are not only men, and anyone is able to stop at any point.

Myth: Rape is usually violent and involves a stranger.
Fact: 90% of sexual assaults on college campuses are committed by someone the victim knows. Many rapes involve force or the threat of force, but rapes are also committed while the victim is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or when asleep.

Myth: If a person goes to their date’s room on the first date, it implies they are willing to have sex.
Fact: Nothing is ever implied, consent must always be clear. Of the 90% of assaults in which the survivor knows the perpetrator, approximately half of these occur on a date. The best way to prevent a bad situation is communication. If you are not sure what the other person wants, just ask. You cannot continue without consent.

Myth: A victim must have “asked for it” by being seductive, drunk, careless, high, etc.
Fact: No one asks to be violated, abused, injured, or humiliated. Perpetrators who are intoxicated or under the influence of drugs are still responsible for their actions and regardless of behavior, no one deserves to be raped.

Myth: If a person doesn’t fight back, they weren’t really raped.
Fact: Whatever a person does to survive is the appropriate action. Rape can be life threatening, especially when a rapist uses a weapon or force. Submission is not the same as cooperation. There are many reasons why a victim might not physically fight their attacker including shock, fear, threats or the size and strength of the attacker.

Myth: There are a lot of false rape reports.
Fact: Rapes are no more likely to be falsely reported than any other felony. The FBI estimates that, at most, 2% of reported rapes are false. Because 90% of rapes on college campuses are not reported, it’s especially important that we take each report seriously.

Myth: Most people report rape or sexual assault to the police.
Fact: Rape and sexual assault are two of the most underreported crimes in our society. Estimates show that only 12% of college student survivors report the assualt to the police. Factoring unreported rapes together with the odds of an arrest being made and the chances of getting a felony conviction, only 6% of rapists will ever spend a day in jail. In other words: 15 of 16 rapists walk free.

Myth: It is ok to pressure or talk someone into sexual activity.
Fact: No, this falls into the category of coercion. Coercion is not consent. Consent must always be affirmative: freely given. Coercion is a tactic used to intimidate, trick, or force someone to have sex with them.

Myth: If you wouldn’t have been drinking, you wouldn’t have been sexually assaulted.
Fact: Alcohol is a weapon that some perpetrators use to control their victim and render them helpless. As part of their plan, a perpetrator may encourage the victim to use alcohol, or identify an individual who is already incapacitated. Alcohol is not a cause of rape; it is only one of many tools that perpetrators use.

Myth: When someone says no, they really mean yes.
Fact: Yes means yes. When someone says yes, they are explicitly giving consent. Silence does not mean consent. It is the responsibility of the person initiating or escalating sexual activity to gain consent at each and every act, every time. If you are ever unclear about your partner’s wishes, ask for clarification. If your partner says no or seems unsure, respect that person and their wishes.

Myth: If a person has an orgasm then they were not actually sexually assaulted.
Fact: Orgasm does not mean that someone “enjoyed” sex, or that they wanted it. Orgasm can be a natural biological reaction that someone can’t control; it doesn’t mean that forced or coerced sexual activity was consensual. Often this is used to silence the survivor.

Myth: Lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender individuals deserve to be raped because of their lifestyle.
Fact: No one deserves to be raped. This is an excuse used by perpetrators who commit rape as a hate crime against LGBTQ+ individuals.

Myth: Men can’t be sexually assaulted.
Fact: 5-6% of men will experience sexual assaulted while in college. College is also the time when men are most at risk. As with all, male survivors can be supported best by talking about the issue in an inclusive way, avoiding the presumptions that all survivors are female or that all male victims are gay.

Myth: People who commit sexual assaults are abnormal perverts or mentally ill.
Fact: Sexual offenders come from all educational, occupational, racial and cultural backgrounds. They are “ordinary” and “normal” individuals who sexually assault victims to assert power and control over them and inflict violence, humiliation and degradation.

Twitter is abuzz today, and some men are crying misandry, over a series of tongue-in-cheek “rape prevention tips” posted by the American comedian Sarah Silverman on March 21. The unapologetically potty-mouthed Emmy-winner tweeted the list, based off a blog post from a few years ago, out to her followers with the suggestion, “send to all the men in ur life.” It was quickly re-tweeted thousands of times.

The list highlights a common double standard in the way we talk about rape prevention. Unlike countless guides directing women on how to stay safe from rape, these tips are aimed at potential perpetrators. It includes such gems as “When you encounter a woman who is asleep, the safest course of action is to not rape her,” “Don’t put drugs in women’s drinks,” and my personal favorite: “Carry a rape whistle. If you find that you are about to rape someone, blow the whistle until someone comes to stop you.”

Predictably, not everyone was pleased. Silverman’s feed was crowded with comments, plenty complaining that the list was offensive or unfair to men.

While it’s true, of course, that not all men commit rape or would ever consider doing so, the reaction seems to miss the point. Rape is depressingly common: In 2011, a national survey found that 1 in 5 American women reported having suffered a sexual assault.

The list Silverman shared has been cheered by advocates frustrated by prevention campaigns that still suggest women who dress or behave in a certain way or drink too much are at least partly to blame for their assaults. The fact that these PSAs are often devised by government agencies and even police departments is particularly galling.

Besides promoting the illogical assumption that rape victims somehow deserve it, these campaigns do nothing to address the underlying causes of rape. Rape is not about sex, it’s about power and violence—meaning no amount of restrictive curfews or dress codes will stop rapists from raping.

We will never reduce sexual violence if perpetrators are allowed to hide behind language that implicitly or explicitly blames victims. The simple fact underlined by the list Silverman tweeted is that rape is a choice—one that the rapist makes.

How To Help a FriendHow to prevent a potential rape

Most survivors of sexual and relationship violence disclose the assault or abuse to at least one other person, usually a friend. You can’t rescue your friend or solve their problems. But being there to listen, believe and support your friend in a positive way can greatly influence their healing process. The following suggestions/information can help you be a supportive friend.

Listen and Support

It’s tough to be prepared when a friend tells you that they been the victim of sexual or relationship abuse. Faced with that situation, the worst thing you can do is nothing. Remember, you can’t rescue your friends or solve their problems. You can only provide support.

  • Support and understanding are essential. It takes a lot of courage for a survivor to share their experience;
  • Try to provide a safe/non-judgmental environment, emotional comfort, and support for the survivor to express feelings;
  • Let them know that they can talk with you. Listen. Don’t rush to provide solutions.

Believe Your Friend

The most common reason people choose not to tell anyone about sexual abuse is the fear that the listener won’t believe them. People rarely lie or exaggerate about abuse; if someone tells you, it’s because they trust you and needs someone to talk to.

How to prevent a potential rape

  • People rarely make up stories of abuse. It is not necessary for you to decide if they were “really hurt.” If the survivor says they were hurt, that should be enough;
  • Believe what your friend tells you. It may have been difficult for them to talk to you and trust you.

Reassure

  • Sexual assault is NEVER the survivor’s fault. No one asks to be sexually assaulted by what they wear, say or do. Let the survivor know that only the perpetrator is to blame;
  • The survivor needs to hear that fears, anxieties, guilt, and anger are normal, understandable and acceptable emotions;
  • Remember, no one ever deserves to be abused or harassed.

Be Patient

  • Don’t press for details – let your friend decide how much they want to share. Ask them how you can help;
  • Survivors have to struggle with complex decisions and feelings of powerlessness, trying to make decisions for them may only increase that sense of powerlessness.
  • You can be supportive by helping your friend to identify all the available options and then help by supporting their decision-making process.
  • The survivor can’t just “forget it” or just move on. Recovery is a long term process and each individual moves at their own pace.

Encourage

  • Encourage the survivor to seek medical attention, report the assault, and or contact SHARPP. Remember, the survivor must ultimately make the decision as to what to do. They are the expert in their own lives. Don’t push. Remember, support your friend’s choices no matter what they decide.

Respect Privacy

  • Don’t tell others what the survivor tells you. Let the individual decide who they will tell. It is important not to share information with others who are not involved;
  • If you do need to share information for your friend’s safety, get permission by letting your friend know what you will share and with whom it will be shared;
  • Don’t confront the perpetrator. Though you might want to fix the situation or get back at the abuser, this could make things worse, for you and your friend.

Establish Safety

  • An important part of helping the survivor is to identify ways in which the survivor can re-establish their sense of physical and emotional safety. You are a step in the process. Ask your friend what would make they feel safe and how you can help them accomplish this.
  • If the stalking or harassment is ongoing, help your friend to develop a plan of what to do if they are in immediate danger. Having a specific plan and preparing in advance can be important if the violence escalates.
  • SHARPP can assist with creating safety plans that are specific to the situation and individuals involved.

Things you can say

It is hard to know what to say to a friend when they confide in you. Refrain from asking a lot of questions, instead, support your friend with these phrases:

You may also find it helpful to share with your friend what you have learned about violence. This is also a good time to share with them your belief in the possibility to heal. Let your friend know that you believe that them and that they have strength and capacity to heal.

Get Support for Yourself

Sometimes the family and friends of victims can also feel the impact of the crime and experience emotional and physical reactions. This is called secondary victimization. Hearing about relationship abuse, sexual assault, and stalking can be upsetting. You may feel angry, sad, frustrated, and helpless. If you have experienced crime or other traumatic events in the past, your friend’s experience might bring up memories and feelings of that time. You may want to talk about your feelings but also respect your friend’s privacy. You too can contact SHARPP and speak to an advocate confidentially to get help for yourself.

If you have questions about any of the material on this page, please call SHARPP at (603) 862-3494 or reach out online via our webchat.

Historic milestone to be marked by a D.C. city council ceremonial resolution and year-long celebration

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Jan 13, 2022, 08:15 ET

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WASHINGTON , Jan. 13, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Men Can Stop Rape (MCSR) today announced the kickoff of its 25 th -anniversary celebration with a ceremonial resolution from the D.C. Council, delivered by D.C. Councilmember Charles Allen (Ward 6). The virtual event, available to stream today at 2 p.m. ET , launches a new chapter for MCSR, building on its groundbreaking work to mobilize men and boys, for the next 25 years and beyond.

“This is an organization that started as an all-volunteer collective here in our hometown of Washington, D.C. ,” said Neil Irvin , Executive Director of Men Can Stop Rape. “We couldn’t be more thrilled that the basis and foundations of our leadership that have reached so many, starting in all wards of our city each day for the last 25 years, continues to expand globally.”

Founded in 1997, MCSR is a leader in the field of gender-based violence prevention, harnessing the untapped potential of boys and men as catalysts for positive change through youth development programs, trainings and technical assistance for professionals and service providers worldwide, and effective campaigns.

“We’re very fortunate here in the District to have a coalition of community-based partners that are really trying to end intimate partner and gender-based violence,” said Councilmember Allen. “MCSR understands that if men are disproportionally responsible for violence against women, they’ve ought to be a part of the solution.”

The Men Can Stop Rape 25th Anniversary Recognition Resolution of 2022 celebrates the organization and cites its pioneering public health approach for preventing violence against women and girls by promoting healthy masculinity and encouraging men and boys to end gender-based violence.

Through its products, programs, services, and partnerships, MCSR’s global reach exceeds 500 million people. Published today, a new lookback shares seven lessons from MCSR’s history, detailing initiatives and collaborations that drove major progress on this critical issue.

“If my rapist had a gun at school, I have no doubt I’d be dead.”
– University of North Carolina student Landen Gambill

The gun lobby has a new talking point in its same old reckless campaign: allowing students to carry loaded firearms around college campuses, it claims, will prevent sexual assault. That couldn’t be further from the truth: Lifting campus gun bans won’t prevent sexual or dating violence on campus—in fact, it would make it worse. But legislators all over the country are introducing bills that would do just that.

One in five women will be sexually assaulted while in college, and 32 percent of female students report having been abused by a dating partner. Guns are the most common weapons used in the murders of intimate partners. While proponents of campus carry bills have suggested that allowing students to carry guns will protect them from becoming victims of sexual assault, the truth is that the vast majority of campus rapes are perpetrated by the victim’s partner, friend, or close acquaintance—precisely the people around whom victims would never think to carry a gun, let alone use one. And the presence of a gun in a case of domestic violence makes it five times more likely that the victim will be murdered, regardless of who owns the gun.

Though some individual victims might believe that they are safer while carrying a gun, the research is clear: arming potential victims is not an effective strategy for preventing sexual or dating violence, and will actually increase the likelihood that victims or other bystanders will be wounded or killed.

Guns on campus will do little to protect potential rape victims or students in abusive relationships, while providing perpetrators the most deadly tool to threaten and hurt victims—and raising the likelihood that rape and abuse will escalate to murder.

Author

Senior Lecturer, School of Justice; Crime, Justice and Social Democracy Research Centre, Queensland University of Technology

Disclosure statement

Bridget Harris has previously receives funding from the Australian Institute of Criminology; Academy of Social Sciences and ACCAN. These projects have not informed this article.

Partners

Queensland University of Technology provides funding as a member of The Conversation AU.

Crime prevention initiatives targeting sexual violence are by no means new. But as technology advances and costs decrease, we are seeing an abundance of digital and technological strategies emerge.

Last month, an invisible anti-groping stamp sold out within an hour of its launch in Japan.

The stamp can be used by victims to mark someone who gropes them on public transport. This mark can only be seen when a black light (that comes with the device) is cast over it.

But we need to ask: are apps, wearables and virtual reality programs really reducing incidents, improving safety or transforming responses to harm?

Ultimately, there can be benefits to using technology to prevent sexual violence, but we must also encourage social shifts that tackle the heart of the problem.

Wearables and devices

Anti-rape wear, promoted as “wearable protection for when things go wrong”, was introduced to the market around 2013.

Designed to be worn by women, anti-rape underwear and shorts are resistant to attempts at cutting, tearing and pulling. Some designs have a coded padlock and siren which sounds if someone tries to forcibly remove the clothing. Sirens can also be activated on demand.

Anti-vaginal penetration devices have also been designed. Rape-aXe, introduced in 2010, is a “female latex condom” with rows of serrated “teeth” that latch onto a penis during penetration.

In 2014, undergraduate students at North Carolina University began promoting the Undercover Colors nail polish. The polish supposedly changes colour when dipped into a drink laced with date-rape drugs such as GHB, Rohypnol or Xanax.

The team now involved with the company has since launched SipChip, a “coin-sized drug test” on a key fob that can be slipped into a pocket or fixed onto a phone cover.

Ideally, these tests can be carried out discretely.

Fundamental flaws

Overwhelmingly, these digital devices are targeted at possible victims (typically women), asking them to assume responsibility for own their safety and management of risk. But as critics have noted, they can reinforce misconceptions about sexual violence instead of challenging them.

Victim-blaming of those who have experienced sexual assault is unfortunately common. It occurs in a variety of domains, including in the media, community, and criminal justice settings.

All too often, victim/survivors are asked what they might have done to facilitate or provoke an attack. In expecting women to control their bodies and environments with the help of anti-rape devices, the question of “what were you wearing” could be reframed as “what anti-rape devices were you wearing?”.

“How much did you drink” could turn into “did you check the drink was drugged?”.

The constant vigilance expected of women cannot be overlooked.

Anti-rape apps and devices are specifically designed to intervene in risky situations. They can potentially be valuable in preventing particular incidents.

But such measures may only deter perpetrators from harming one person, not necessarily from harming others, or attacking the target at another time.

Problematic perspectives

Assaults on public transport and in public spaces are undoubtedly an issue. But focusing on the “unknown” danger from strangers can take away focus from the higher level of sexual violence enacted by acquaintances, friends, dates, and intimate partners – often in private places.

The most recent National Community Attitudes toward Violence against Women Survey documented alarming attitudes about violence against women among young people.

About one in seven young Australians reported a man would be justified in using force if a woman initiated sex but subsequently changed her mind about continuing. Almost one in four young men also believed women find it flattering to be persistently pursued, even if they are not interested.

Such “problematic attitudes to violence against women” were said to be common among young people with mainly male friends.

When it comes to technological responses to sexual violence, perpetrators and bystanders are rarely the focus. This is an oversight that warrants attention.

Digital support solutions

Technology can offer support for women in the aftermath of an incident.

Victim/survivors use digital channels to call out sexual hostilities, aggression or unfavourable experiences on dating apps. Examples include public Instagram accounts such as tindernightmares.

Bye Felipe also features posts “calling out dudes who turn hostile when rejected or ignored”.

Advocates have created apps that provide victim/survivors with ways to report violence and seek assistance. For instance, Sunny helps survivors with disabilities share their stories and locate information about their rights and support.

Apps such as SmartSafe+ and Arc, developed by the Domestic Violence Research Centre Victoria, can help in evidence collection.

Prevention before reaction

Virtual reality is another innovative channel we can use to promote and practice bystander intervention in a simulated environment.

Users can see and experience how bystanders – which could be any of us – might intervene to prevent sexual violence.

Ideally, this would be trialled alongside discussions about ideologies and behaviours that foster perpetration, and how consent can be understood and respected.

In many ways, technology can provide tools that help prevent sexual violence and offer support to victim/survivors. But we must develop digital initiatives that seek to promote real world, social shifts.

Technologies should seek to engage with and prevent perpetration, promote bystander intervention and challenge the myths, attitudes and underlying structures that facilitate sexual violence.

In other words, we need to prevent sexual violence at its source.

But Apple’s new emergency alert service could change that

How to prevent a potential rape

The week I moved to San Francisco, one of the first things my mom asked was whether I had pepper spray. I do. It’s the most user-friendly and inexpensive technology I can think of to prevent an attack.

Despite the heap of rape alert buttons and prevention apps of the past several years, pepper spray continues to be the status quo of self-defense gadgets for women. Why hasn’t a more reliable and universal assault alert device surfaced?

How to prevent a potential rape

As Apple introduced an emergency alert service to its watch at WWDC recently, some heralded the app as a win for women, who have been historically underrepresented tech consumers.

The tool follows an army of similar products (wearables, apps, clothing) that purport to defend against physical attack. Many of the products get crowdfunded on sites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter, but only to the prototype stage. The physical tools fall short of successful social campaigns and online activism. Under the viral #YesAllWomen hashtag, women revealed they walk with keys between their fingers, an imperfect and makeshift weapon against potential attackers.

Entrepreneurs have been trying. ROAR For Good raised over $313,000 on Indiegogo for Athena, a small button that emits a loud alarm and messages pre-determined contacts with the wearer’s location.

“We found that women don’t like the self-defense tools that are out there,” Yasmine Mustafa, founder of ROAR For Good, told Fast Company. “They’re too hard to use. They’re afraid they’ll use them against themselves. They don’t want to be in hand-to-hand combat in the first place.”

Close combat is one reason potential victims hesitate, even when using supposedly non-lethal tools like pepper spray. But whistles and horns have their own issues, necessitating “dramatic,” potentially public action, a challenging step for most people. They ask users to make aggressive decisions quickly, rather than on an escalating scale.

How to prevent a potential rape

More subtle and customizable tech tools like Athena seem promising at first glance. But they’re entering an already crowded market of technology that doesn’t appear to be picking up steam. (At $99, the earliest one can expect to use Athena is Fall 2016.)

Similar to Athena, Revolar’s $99 button takes one tap to alert friends to “minor” discomfort, and two taps for emergencies, whereupon a contact must call 911. Venture Beat reports the company raised $3 million and grew from three to 15 employees by January 2016.

The Perltect bracelet emits a strong odor, meant to “sexually discourage” attackers. The spray allegedly attaches to an intruder for months, and can link an attacker to a crime scene. The device is not yet available for purchase.

While investors are drawn to tidy and packageable technology, especially if units can retail above manufacturing cost (assault alert necklace Stiletto starts at $179), you can buy pepper spray on Amazon for as little as $1.99. Some canisters even come in pink for ladies (eye roll).

Apps like Circle of 6 offer a free but incomplete defense to the high price and privilege of today’s trendiest self-defense technology. But they’re often multi-use, with different levels of social media integration and functionality. Users of Circle of 6 elect six trusted friends they can call on to send pre-programmed messages, for example, “Call me with a pretend emergency so I can leave this party.”

Voice-activated apps may offer more peace of mind — and few to no clicks. Earlier in June, a mother used Siri to call an ambulance while she performed CPR on her toddler.

The pervasiveness of smartphones, and often their pre-loaded services, is one likely reason rape-prevention technology hasn’t found a foothold. The question is whether they will evolve for optimal assault prevention (without all the clicks and taps) or whether they simply provide a false sense of security. I’m only a text or phone call away from help.

How to prevent a potential rape

Historically, devices have been even more problematic. Though shrouded in myth, the chastity belt was ostensibly implemented to prevent violence against women but also policed suspected infidelity. Around the turn of the 20th century, the belt was used by medical professionals to prevent masturbation by both men and women. Fast-forward to 1994 and chastity belt patents don’t look much different. And the 2013 outcry over “anti-rape” underwear buried yet another attempt at the lock-out fix.

How to prevent a potential rape

There is, of course, the old fashioned rape whistle, though it’s difficult to pinpoint when they were first used (they are just normal whistles, after all), but it may be earlier than you imagine.

Both spray and whistles have something in common: Though both low-tech, comparatively outdated solutions, they require action via a single function. Their simplicity is user friendly.

But the tech is base camp one.

Technology does not solve the institutional crisis of victim blaming. The act of putting assault prevention tools in the hands of women is not in itself a problem if we are doing enough to prevent and inform those who might assault in the first place, and implement policy that doesn’t adversely put the burden of proof on the victim. According to research, 80 percent of sexual assault prevention tips focus on what women can do to curb the crime (“don’t walk at night,” “wear modest clothes,” and other maddening versions of gender policing).

It’s part of the reason why successful campaigns like It’s On Us and education programs need to be ramped up. Bystander responsibility, responsible definitions of consent, and policies that support rather than blame women are all paramount.

Meanwhile, I’ve still got my pink pepper spray.

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  • How to prevent a potential rape

    • June 10, 2015

    A program that trained first-year female college students to avoid rape substantially lowered their risk of being sexually assaulted, a rare success against a problem that has been resistant to many prevention efforts, researchers reported Wednesday.

    Sexual violence is a serious hazard on college campuses. By some estimates, one in five female students are raped, and women tend to be at the greatest risk during their first year on campus. In the aftermath of several highly publicized campus rapes, the White House last spring issued guidelines directing colleges to address sexual assault.

    In a randomized trial, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, first-year students at three Canadian campuses attended sessions on assessing risk, learning self-defense and defining personal sexual boundaries. The students were surveyed a year after they completed the intervention.

    The risk of rape for 451 women randomly assigned to the program was about 5 percent, compared with nearly 10 percent among 442 women in a control group who were given brochures and a brief information session.

    “Only 22 women would need to take the program in order to prevent one additional rape from occurring within one year,” the authors concluded.

    The risk of attempted rape was even lower — 3.4 percent among women who received the training, compared with 9.3 percent among those who did not.

    “It’s an important, rigorous study that shows that resistance and self-defense training needs to be part of college sexual assault prevention,” said Sarah E. Ullman, a professor of criminology, law and justice at the University of Illinois at Chicago, who was not involved in the research.

    “This won’t solve the problem, but it’s an important piece that has been overlooked.”

    Other researchers praised the trial as one of the largest and most promising efforts in a field pocked by equivocal or dismal results. But some took issue with the philosophy underlying the program’s focus: training women who could potentially be victims, rather than dealing with the behavior and attitudes of men who could potentially be perpetrators.

    Such a strategy could reduce risk for some victims, said Sarah DeGue, a behavioral scientist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who reviewed evaluations of prevention programs for the White House Task Force on campus sexual assault.

    But, she added, “It’s possible that potential perpetrators could encounter individuals who have received training and just move on to more vulnerable individuals.”

    To address sexual assault comprehensively, she and other experts said, colleges as well as high schools and middle schools should take multifaceted approaches that considered root causes of violence against women and men, compelled bystanders to intervene and gave guidance on healthy relationships.

    Charlene Y. Senn, the lead author of the Canadian study and a social psychologist at the University of Windsor, did not disagree. “It gives women the knowledge and skills they need right now, but the long-term solution is to reduce their need to defend themselves,” said Dr. Senn, who also supervises a campus bystander program.

    The two-year trial at universities in Calgary, Alberta, and Windsor and Guelph in Ontario, expanded on components of other resistance programs and added a training session on sexuality and relationships.

    Students, largely recruited in psychology classes, could take all four three-hour sessions over a weekend or in weekly classes. The structure was purposely dynamic, and included role-playing, discussion and problem-solving.

    One major hurdle, Dr. Senn said, was that the young women had been taught just to be on guard against the stranger rapist — to fear the shadowy campus at night, the deserted parking lots. Rape by an acquaintance or a romantic partner, far more common, is not a concept they had considered, she said.

    At a session Lindsey Boyes attended at the University of Calgary, she said she was startled to learn that if someone had sex with a person who was intoxicated, the act could be defined as sexual assault: A person who is mentally incapacitated because of alcohol or drugs cannot legally give consent.

    “I felt an adrenaline rush and some shock,” Ms. Boyes, 22, said. “It was eye-opening to realize that I had been raped in high school.”

    At 16, she had been at a party, drinking alcohol for the first time, and was very drunk. A boy offered to take her home — and then assaulted her. She was devastated, for years thinking of herself as “damaged goods.”

    But the resistance program brought some relief, she said. “I no longer felt shame and guilt about it being my fault,” Ms. Boyes said.

    During the program, students learn strategies to protect themselves at social gatherings, such as buddy systems. Ms. Boyes said that now when she went to bars, she covered her glass to protect against date-rape drugs.

    The Canadian program was also effective for women who, like Ms. Boyes, had been victimized before they went to college.

    A study about sexual assaults of first-year college women, published this month in The Journal of Adolescent Health, noted that women who had been previously assaulted may be up to six times more likely to be revictimized during that first year than women who had never faced sexual violence.

    The acquaintance rape theme was continued in the self-defense session. Women may be better prepared psychologically to be physically aggressive against a stranger, Dr. Senn said, “but if the attacker is your friend’s boyfriend, you’re not going to push your keys against his eyes.”

    Most women who are assaulted by acquaintances, she added, “use pleading and crying.”

    “That’s natural and makes sense, but it’s not effective,” Dr. Senn said.

    And so the students were taught how to break wrist holds and chokeholds and yell. The class presented attacks in different social contexts, offering women the confidence to choose the most effective strategies.

    The final unit asked women to articulate consensual and nonconsensual sexual activities, and how well they would have to know someone to participate.

    “The women said this was the first time they’d reflected about sexual situations when it wasn’t proposed to them,” Dr. Senn said. By clarifying their sexual desires, the women could internalize a defined baseline.

    Dr. Senn wrote the manual for the program, which is on hiatus, pending additional training.

    In an editorial accompanying the study, Kathleen C. Basile, a lead behavioral scientist in violence prevention at the C.D.C., noted that there were no easy solutions to sexual violence, stressing that a comprehensive approach is essential.

    This study, she wrote, described an effective intervention for individual women.

    But, she added, “it places the onus for prevention on potential victims, possibly obscuring the responsibility of perpetrators and others.”

    Raising boys right is at the heart of the rape debate as more and more people speak out about the abysmally low conviction rates.

    How to prevent a potential rape

    By Vasu Primlani
    Comedian and actor, Mumbai

    They tell you that the best way to be safe is to walk outside at a certain time, wear outfits prescribed by men (that they deem will protect you from rape), which buttons to press in a lift, there is an entire list vetted by the ubiquitous panel of men. And how do we make our baby girls safer? You know the ones that cannot even crawl yet? What clothes should they wear? Should they say ‘help’ and ‘stop’ in a certain manner?

    My greatest frustration with the conversation in India around rape is-why is India telling the women what to do? Do you tell the person who was robbed “it was actually your fault”? Do you tell the person’s family who was murdered that you should have kept him at home? India doesn’t even know how to blame the perpetrator in the case of rape. They think the victim is to blame. They are busy educating the victim about how to prevent a crime from happening to her. There is only one way to be safe from rape. Raise your boys properly.

    As a somatic therapist who has worked with rape survivors, acid attack survivors and rapists, it is my contention that rapists are raised by the following kind of parents-those who physically or sexually abuse the boy, neglect him, or raise a boy with male entitlement so he consequently grows up thinking he is god’s gift to mankind, and can have anything he wants, whenever he wants it. Let me ask you a question: do you personally know someone who has been raped or do you know anyone who has raped? Chances are your answer is in the affirmative in relation to the former and negative in the latter. We all know someone who has been raped, but no one has ever seen or met a rapist. It stands to reason that for every rape victim there is a rapist. But India doesn’t have rapists, apparently. We have ghost rapists. My point is, doesn’t it seem like India protects its rapists more than its rape victims?

    Unless we know why rape happens, one can’t prevent it. Until you know the cause of the disease, you can do all the song and dance you want around it, but you won’t be able to cut it at its root. It’s like taking coconut water for pneumonia. You can drown in it, it would make as much of difference as singing makes to a mosquito. And did you know, boys in India are molested/raped as much girls are? Unfortunately, they often don’t talk about it.

    As a rape prevention and rehabilitation expert, I can tell you that abusive backgrounds breed potential criminals. These bombs can be diffused. It’s not easy, but I have done it with several boys and men in the past. For you, the best thing you can do to safeguard yourself from rape is-raise your sons, brothers and male friends properly. Teach them to take no for an answer respectfully. But most of all, douse the fire of rage inside them. Until that happens, no amount of begging or pleading will help.

    The Men’s Program is a workshop for college men that educates participants about what a rape feels like, how to help a woman recover from a rape experience, how to intervene as a bystander if they observe a situation that could turn into rape, and to make the participants less likely to commit sexual assault themselves. It does so by focusing on empathy building, bystander education, and defining consent.

    How to prevent a potential rape

    After participation in the Men’s Program, participants will:

    • intervene as bystanders when they see a potential sexual assault situation.
    • assist survivors who come to them asking for help
      develop a sense of empathy toward rape survivors.
    • Presentation of a rape scenario: The primary distinguishing characteristic of this program is the description of a rape scenario, presented by Sergeant Dick Raymond of the Seattle Police Department (lasting approximately 17 minutes). The scenario describes a male police officer being raped at gunpoint by two men and is based on the accounts of several actual victims. The story is very graphic, with detailed physical descriptions.
    • What do victims have to do after experiencing rape? Sergeant Raymond explicitly describes many choices a victim is confronted with, both immediately after the rape and further down the road. Does the victim even acknowledge that a rape has occurred? The choice of acknowledging the incident is followed by numerous other choices: when to return to work, whether or not to press charges, and with whom to share the information.
    • Other elements of the program: The program focuses extensively on being supportive of victims and offers suggestions as to what to do if a victim comes to you. There is also a brief discussion about intimate situations between the participant and a woman. It suggests some ways to ensure that the woman is ok with and giving her consent. It also suggests ways to help change the culture.

    The Men’s Program utilizes multiple teaching methods: a video presentation, and an interactive dialogue on the subject of bystander prevention. Note: the interactive component requires the administrator to train individuals to present that portion.

    The program is a one-time presentation. The DVD in its entirety lasts approximately 37 minutes. Including the bystander intervention component will lengthen the program to at least 45 minutes.

    The Men’s Program includes a DVD and an accompanying script with material necessary to run the program. Administrators have the option of solely using the DVD, or using it in conjunction with live presenters. At least two presenters are needed, and it is up to whomever is administering the program to train and rehearse with the presenters. The administrator can also use more presenters if desired.

    College men. The program is not specifically tailored to athletes, or fraternity members, but has been used on these audiences and there is evidence of its effectiveness on them. John Foubert’s organization – 1 in 4 – also has programs specifically for college women.

    The program is based on two theories of attitude and behavior change: belief system theory and the elaboration likelihood model. Belief system theory suggests that interventions must be designed to maintain individual’s self-conceptions (Grube, Mayton, and Ball-Rokeach 1994; Foubert and Newberry 2006). Thus, The Men’s Program treats participants as individuals who know rape is wrong and do not want to rape, as opposed to treating men as potential perpetrators. The elaboration likelihood model suggests lasting attitude and behavior change occurs when participants are motivated to hear a message, are able to understand it, and perceive the message as relevant (Petty and Cacioppo 1986; Foubert and Newberry 2006). Thus, The Men’s Program presents a story about the rape of a male. The Men’s Program format is based on research indicating programs aimed at single-sex audiences are more effective than programs aimed at co-ed audiences, and research that suggests empathy building is effective in reducing men’s likelihood to commit acts of sexual violence.

    Some research indicates that college men who experience The Men’s Program significantly increase their self-reported willingness to help as a bystander and their perceived bystander efficacy compared to control groups that have not undergone the program. Some studies also indicate that participants significantly decrease their self-reported rape myth acceptance compared to those that have not undergone the program (Langhinrichsen-Rohling, Foubert, et al., 2011). Some research also indicates that men who are at high risk to commit sexual assault are less likely to do so after participating in the program than high-risk men who do not participate in the program (Foubert, Tatum, & Donahue, 2006).

    Numerous colleges and universities use The Men’s Program, including:

    • Connecticut College
    • The Citadel
    • The United States Naval Academy
    • University of Pennsylvania
    • University of Vermont
    • University of Virginia
    • Western New England University

    Issues of gender. The graphic description of a male cop is designed to invoke feelings of empathy in the male participants towards rape victims. However, at times the dialogue suggests (and the script admits as much) that comparing a male rape to a female rape can only be so effective. The social contexts of male-male rape and male-female rape are often very different. Perhaps even more importantly, there are numerous issues that a female victim has to deal with that a male victim never will (the risk of pregnancy being the most obvious, but certainly not the only, one). The scenario also incorporates elements that are not frequently found in common campus sexual assault settings. For example, the rape is perpetrated by strangers rather than an acquaintance and a lethal weapon is used.

    The graphic nature of the program. Some administrators may be reluctant to present this type of story to college-aged men. The language is graphic and paints a vivid portrait of a rape that may make some participants uncomfortable.

    The Men’s Program is a potentially valuable tool to educate men about what rape is, how it affects victims, and how they can support a victim. The graphic story, while potentially unsettling, shows rape for the violent crime it is and emphasizes the difficult choices a victim has to make. Participants are shown that some of those choices involve options, such as deciding whether or not to prosecute, as well as routine issues that in reality can be difficult to maneuver, such as getting to and from a hospital. The program provides good context by effectively integrating statistics into the dialogue to indicate the seriousness of this issue. It also effectively emphasizes how important it is to support victims consistently while being flexible to the personal needs of the victim.

    , PhD, Department of Psychiatry, University of Michigan

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    Typically, rape is an expression of aggression, anger, or need for power; psychologically, it is more violent than sexual. Nongenital or genital injury occurs in about 50% of rapes of females.

    Sexual assault is rape or any other sexual contact that results from coercion, including seduction of a child through offers of affection or bribes; it also includes being touched, grabbed, kissed, or shown genitals.

    Rape and sexual assault, including childhood sexual assault, are common; the lifetime prevalence estimates for both ranges from 2 to 30% but tends to be about 15 to 20%. However, actual prevalence may be higher because rape and sexual assault tend to be underreported.

    Females are raped and sexually assaulted more often than males. Male rape is often committed by another man, often in prison. Males who are raped are more likely than females to be physically injured, to be unwilling to report the crime, and to have multiple assailants.

    Symptoms and Signs of Rape

    Rape may result in the following:

    Most physical injuries are relatively minor, but some lacerations of the upper vagina are severe. Additional injuries may result from being struck, pushed, stabbed, or shot. Recent evidence indicates that a lifetime experience of rape is also related to long-term physical health problems; for example, risk of developing asthma, irritable bowel syndrome, frequent headaches, or chronic pain is higher for rape victims than for people who are not victims of rape [2 Symptoms and signs references Although legal and medical definitions vary, rape is typically defined as oral, anal, or vaginal penetration that involves threats or force against a person who is unwilling (ie, nonconsenting). read more ]).

    Immediately after an assault, patient behavior can range from talkativeness, tenseness, crying, and trembling to shock and disbelief with dispassion, quiescence, and smiling. The latter responses rarely indicate lack of concern; rather, they reflect avoidance reactions, physical exhaustion, or coping mechanisms that require control of emotion. Anger may be displaced onto hospital staff or family members.

    For acute stress disorder to be diagnosed, symptoms must be present for 3 days to 1 month after the rape.

    Friends, family members, and officials may react judgmentally, derisively, or in another negative way. Such reactions can impede recovery after an assault.

    Eventually, most patients recover; however, long-range effects of rape may include PTSD, particularly among women. PTSD is a trauma-related disorder; symptoms of PTSD include

    Re-experiencing the trauma (eg, flashbacks, intrusive upsetting thoughts or images)

    Avoidance (eg, of trauma-related situations, thoughts, and feelings)

    Negative effects on cognition and mood (eg, persistent distorted blame of self or others, inability to experience positive emotions)

    Altered arousal and reactivity (eg, sleep difficulties, irritability, concentration problems)

    Symptoms and signs references

    1. Holmes MM, Resnick HS, Kilpatrick DG, et al: Rape-related pregnancy: estimates and descriptive characteristics from a national sample of women. Am J Obstet Gynecol 175 (2):320–324; discussion 324–325, 1996.

    2. Basile KC, Smith SG, Chen J, Zwald M: Chronic diseases, health conditions, and other impacts associated with rape victimization of U.S. women. J Interpers Violence 23:886260519900335, 2020. doi: 10.1177/0886260519900335. [Epub ahead of print].

    Evaluation of the Rape Victim

    Goals of rape evaluation are

    Medical assessment and treatment of injuries and assessment, treatment, and prevention of pregnancy and STIs

    Collection of forensic evidence

    Recommendation of crisis intervention and psychologic support

    If patients seek advice before medical evaluation, they are told not to throw out or change clothing, wash, shower, douche, brush their teeth, clip their fingernails, or use mouthwash; doing so may destroy evidence.

    Whenever possible, all people who are raped are referred to a local rape center, often a hospital emergency department; such centers are staffed by specially trained practitioners (eg, sexual assault nurse examiners [SANE] ). Some areas in the US have a sexual assault response team (SART), which includes members from health care, forensics, the local rape crisis center, law enforcement, and the prosecutor’s office. Benefits of a rape evaluation are explained, but patients are free to consent to or decline the evaluation. The police are notified if patients consent. Most patients are greatly traumatized, and their care requires sensitivity, empathy, and compassion. Patients may feel more comfortable with a physician of the same sex; all patients should be asked about their preference before the examination. A female staff member should accompany all males evaluating a female. Patients are provided privacy and quiet whenever possible.

    A form (sometimes part of a rape kit) is used to record legal evidence and medical findings (for typical elements in the form, see table Typical Examination for Alleged Rape Typical Examination for Alleged Rape ); it should be adapted to local requirements. Because the medical record may be used in court, results should be written legibly and in nontechnical language that can be understood by a jury.

    10 wearable devices to prevent rape and date rape.

    The National Sexual Violence Resource Center has estimated that one in five women will be raped at some time in their lives. This is a terrifying statistic that should have women anxious and keen to protect themselves. At the same time, it illustrates a greater societal problem that needs to be addressed on a more comprehensive scale and can serve as an incentive for every woman to address the issue of her own personal safety to prevent rape.

    While tech devices and apps aren’t the answer. They can help keep girls and women safe in many situations.

    To speed these innovations to market some entrepreneurs and startups are getting help from crowdfunding and other means to develop creative products and apps that give women an edge when it comes to personal safety. These range from devices disguised as jewelry to nail polish. Resourceful, effective, and discreet, these innovations can make a critical difference to prevent sexual assault when seconds matter in dangerous or life-threatening situations.

    How to prevent a potential rape

    Athena is a black silicone pendant the size of a half-dollar and can be pinned to a purse, clothing, or even worn as a necklace. With a recessed button at the center of the device to prevent accidental alerts, users can hold it for three seconds to trigger a loud alarm that will immediately notify friends and family of their current location, or alternatively, press it three times in quick succession to send a silent alert if you’re suspicious of being targeted.

    The Safelet is another wearable device allowing users to send alerts to predetermined friends and family without using their phones who can then call 911. Similar to setting a watch, users can activate the Safelet by simultaneously pressing two buttons located on either side of the face. It looks and is worn like a regular bracelet, and once activated, syncs with the user’s mobile phone and starts recording sound.

    How to prevent a potential rape

    This is a free app available for Android and iOS, allowing the user to set a timer when traveling alone. When you’re in a situation where you don’t have time to make a call for help, just shake your phone and even if it’s locked the app turns on your phone’s alarm, video camera and sends an alert to your pre-set emergency contacts. The company that created it dubbed itself the “Waze of personal safety” stating, “instead of giving you traffic updates, it warns you when you’re about to enter a high-crime zone.”

    You can choose to add updates in the form of texts, pictures, or video, and if you do not tap the “I’m Safe” button before the timer runs out, friends and family are immediately given your location and any information you’ve uploaded. Because the app is activated based on inactivity, you’ll be taken care of even if you’re separated from your phone.

    How to prevent a potential rape

    One functionality that sets Stiletto apart from other wearable jewelry or app, other than its stylish look, is the ability to place 911 calls on your behalf. Less than an inch on all sides, it can be worn as a pendant on necklaces or bracelets, and with a single press, dials an emergency contact, or the police. If you’re unable to speak for yourself, the automated voice assistant takes care of that for you. If the situation de-escalates, with a second press, you can confirm your safety.

    5. Undercover Colors

    Developed by university students, Undercover Colors is nail polish that changes color upon contact with a drink that has Xanax, Rohypnol, or GHB in it; the drugs most commonly used for date rape. Still, in the conceptual stage, the product is scheduled for release in 2017 and has already secured over $5.5 million in funding. For users, a test to see if their drinks are safe will only be a fingertip away.

    While this is a wearable device that you can clip onto keys or your pants’ pocket, a free app version is also available. Revolar works with either Wi-Fi or cellular data, and while traveling, users can use a single click to let their contacts know they’re safe, two clicks if they feel unsafe, or three if they’re in imminent danger. Users can also use the app version to send themselves a phone call. The phone rings and plays a pre-recorded message, so the user can pretend they’re on a call to escape an uncomfortable situation in a pinch.

    Because it is a text service, there’s nothing to download. As long as you have a cell phone signal, let Kitestring know when to check up on you, and text your reply when they do. The SMS service, which is free, also offers emergency contact notifications and a personalized alert message.

    How to prevent a potential rape

    React Mobile offers both a free safety app and a panic button device that can be attached to clothing, car keys, wallets, or carried in hand. Once activated, a React Mobile dispatcher immediately provides emergency contacts with your profile information and GPS location. Called “the world’s smallest personal panic button” React Mobile also offers group packages, perfect for organizations and community groups looking to stay protected together.

    9. Guardian Locket

    Created by a university student, the Guardian Locket was designed to be worn around the neck, and when pressed, rings the user’s phone to provide a potential distraction. A second press sends three consecutive text messages to three separate emergency contacts, along with their location information, an image of their face, and a request for help. The image feature allows persons traveling or living alone in new places to have nearby contact with guides, landlords, or other trusted individuals.

    How to prevent a potential rape

    This self-defense product is geared towards active women, who want to enjoy the freedom of exercise in the early morning hours, or in the evenings after work without worry. The heavy-duty plastic serrated-edge weapon is fitted to and worn on your finger and can increase the user’s chances of getting to safety in the event of an attack. There’s no need to reach into a pocket or fanny pack—with only a split second to react, you can start defending yourself right away.

    Product makers and student advocates discuss date rape prevention products working to combat sexual assault.

    Nicole Commisso was always anxious about drinking out of open containers throughout her time in college, especially once she turned 21. After the disturbing news of a rape occurring in Patchogue, New York, her hometown, Nicole began researching ways to combat date rape.

    In 2019, Commisso began My Cup Condom, or latex drink covers, to protect future victims and avoid any potential contamination of alcohol from date-rape drugs.

    “Our mission is to keep your drink safe and protected from unwanted contaminants and spillage. Protecting those who want to go out and have fun without worrying about their safety is so important to us,” Commisso said

    Every 73 seconds, an American experiences sexual assault, according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. On college campuses, that number includes almost one out of four women and one of six men.

    Date rape, or acquaintance rape, is defined as unwanted sexual activity by a victim’s date, friend, or peer through methods such as violence or substances, according to Encyclopedia Brittanica. In short, it is understood that the victim knows the attacker.

    According to Health Research Funding, date rape incidents make up for about 90 percent of college campus rapes.

    In an attempt to combat these numbers, companies such as Commisso’s My Cup Condom and Undercover Colors, a drug-revealing nail polish, have sprung up in the tech industry.

    A common misconception is that women are the only victims of sexual assault, according to the University of Michigan’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center. However, this epidemic affects around 16 percent of men as well as 21 percent of transgender students, according to RAINN.

    In Commisso’s effort to eradicate these drinking dangers, she emphasizes her products are made for every individual, not just women.

    “Since inventing this product, I have had many positive reactions from men and I can’t tell you how many guys have told me their personal story of being roofied as well as girls,” Commisso said.

    Shira Freiman, president of It’s On Us TU, said her club also recognizes the importance of including all gender identities in the conversations about sexual violence. Freiman, a senior psychology and criminology major, worked to bring the group to campus.

    It’s On Us TU is a chapter of the national organization It’s On Us—a 2014 nonprofit Obama-Biden initiative to increase conversations on sexual assault prevention. The Temple chapter seeks to provide safety for people, specifically resources and education for students through workshops, seminars, and events.

    “We cannot resolve the underlying issues related to sexual assault without holding the space for all people to speak out,” Freiman said.

    Date rape drugs, such as Rohypnol and GBL or Gamma-Butyrolactone, are often mixed with alcohol in order to coerce an individual into nonconsensual sexual activity, Women’s Health reported. Students should be aware that these drugs can come in the form of dissolvable or ground-up pills, liquids, or — in the case of GHB — a clear, odorless and salty liquid, typically placed in strong drinks so as to be unknowingly consumed, Forbes reported.

    Nearly half of all sexual assaults occur alongside alcohol consumption by the perpetrator, the victim, or both, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

    Although a victim’s alcohol consumption may increase their risk of sexual assault, they are in no way responsible, assures the NIAAA. Legally and morally, the offender is always at fault.

    Freiman said she is thankful that safety products have been created, however, there is more to be done.

    “These products are a short term solution to a long term problem, in my opinion. However, it’s well overdue that such products are available. It’s unfortunate that the sexual assault epidemic, particularly on college campuses, has gotten to this point,” Freiman added.

    Freiman said that while sexual-assault-preventative products do not solve the problem of sexual violence, they do “create the opportunity to have difficult discussions about sexual assault, and open the eyes of people who may not have realized the prevalence of the issue before.”

    “Hopefully, with society becoming more aware of these dangers and more aware of being able to protect yourself, there will be less and less bad people trying to do bad things,” Commisso said. “All we can do is stack the odds in our favor as far as protecting yourself.”

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    A guide for developing tools to assess for sexual assault within the context of domestic violence 1

    1. Rapport should be built with the victim before screening questions are asked.
    2. Questions should use specific language when referring to the crime. Words such as hurt, threatened, or forced should be clarified by the interviewer (i.e. did they hurt you vs. did they hit or push you).
    3. Due to rape myths, some victims of intimate partner sexual violence may not consider the crime a “rape.” Screening questions should use words such as sexual activity, intimate experience, and so forth.
    4. Questions should be open-ended and designed to facilitate disclosure.
    5. Persons asking questions about sexual activities should first receive training in how to discuss sexual histories and experiences in a non-threatening, non-judgmental manner.
    6. Before asking the questions, the interviewer should decide what they will do if the victim provides information that indicates a sexual assault. Before asking the victim such questions, the interviewer must know the answers to the following questions:
      • What kind of answers would lead you to believe that an intervention is warranted?
      • What kind of intervention are you prepared to make?
      • What further questions would you need to ask?
      • What resources and/or information do you have to offer?

    Possible Screening Questions 2

    The following list of screening questions has been synthesized from various scholarly resources. This is not an exhaustive list of questions, and they have not been systematically evaluated. These questions are designed to facilitate disclosure from the victim. They are not intended for verbatim use; the interviewer should make necessary revisions to fit specific assessment situations.

    • Have you ever been intimate with your partner when you didn’t want to?
    • Does your partner ever force you to be intimate? How often does this happen and when did it happen last?
    • Have you ever been intimate with your partner because you were afraid of them?
    • Are there times when sex between you or your partner is unpleasant for either one of you? What happens to make it unpleasant?
    • Do you and your partner ever have disagreements about sex: for example, when and how often to have sex? How do you resolve those disagreements?
    • Do you think you and your partner enjoy your sexual relationship equally?
    • Has your partner ever made you have a sexual experience when you had too much alcohol to drink or when you’ve taken something (for example: drugs) that made you unable to consent?
    • Has your partner ever forced or pressured you into doing things that you weren’t comfortable with? What were they?
    • Has your partner ever forced you to have a sexual experience by using a weapon, or by physically hurting you?
    • Has your partner ever forced you to have a sexual experience by kidnapping you, or by breaking into your home, office, car or other property?
    • Have you ever had sex with your partner because they have threatened, pressured, forced, or hurt you? What happened? 2
    • Has your partner ever had sex with you when you were physically or mentally unable to say yes or agree to the activity?
    • Have you ever “given in” to a sexual encounter with your partner to avoid fighting or being hurt?
    • Have you ever had a sexual encounter because you felt overwhelmed by your partner’s continual arguing and / or pressure?
    • Has your partner ever touched you in a sexual way that has made you feel uncomfortable?
    • Has your partner ever said or done sexually degrading things to you?

    Follow-up Questions: 3

    These follow-up questions have been designed to solicit more information from the victim after the preceding screening questions have been asked. These questions solicit additional information from the victim when the initial screening question is closed-ended and the victim has given a positive response to that question.

    • How long has this sexual abuse / behavior been occurring in your relationship?
    • How often does the sexual abuse occur?
    • Are there any patterns between the physical and sexual abuse in your relationship?
    • Have you noticed any change in the frequency or severity of abuse in your relationship?
    • Was there ever any force or pressure involved?
    • Have you ever told anyone or received help?
    • Who did you tell or what type of help did you receive?
    • How has the sexual abuse in your relationship impacted you?
    • Have you noticed any physical or medical changes with your body?
    • What has been the emotional or psychological affects you’ve experienced as a result of the sexual abuse?
    • How can I help you?

    How to prevent a potential rape

    The cost of rape: Applying an economic burden estimate to advance prevention

    By Sarah DeGue
    Division of Violence Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
    The findings and conclusions in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    Sexual violence exacts a high toll on survivors, their loved ones—and, ultimately, on all of us. Although decades of research demonstrate the harmful, and costly, impacts of sexual violence on the physical, psychological, social, and economic well-being of survivors, few studies have attempted to quantify the total lifetime economic burden of sexual violence on the United States (US) economy.

    CDC’s study estimating the economic burden of rape

    In 2017, CDC published a study, “Lifetime Economic Burden of Rape Among U.S. Adults,” in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine to address this gap in our knowledge (Peterson, DeGue, Florence, & Lokey, 2017). This study uses mathematical modeling to estimate the lifetime per-victim and total population economic burden of rape among adult men and women in the US. Data sources include previous sexual violence research, administrative data systems (e.g., health care, criminal justice), and surveillance data from CDC’s 2011 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS). Due to limitations of the available research literature and data, the estimate is limited to the costs associated with rape, specifically, and does not include other forms of sexual violence.

    This study has two key advantages over prior estimates of the economic burden of rape. First, the costs included are more comprehensive. While prior research was often limited to criminal justice-related expenditures, CDC’s estimate includes costs for 14 categories of health conditions (e.g., injuries, depression, PTSD, substance abuse, cervical cancer, rape-related pregnancy) linked to rape victimization based on a systematic review of the sexual violence research literature. In addition, costs associated with criminal justice response (i.e., investigation, adjudication, incarceration), victim and perpetrator lost work productivity, and property loss/damage during the offense are included for a more complete estimate of the impact on the economy. Second, while prior studies often based the total burden estimate on the number of rapes reported to law enforcement, CDC’s estimate uses national surveillance data from NISVS, identifying many more individuals as victims — based on self-report — than past research using official reports. Details of the study’s methods and limitations are available in the published article.

    The per-victim cost and total lifetime economic burden of rape in the US

    Using these methods, CDC estimates that the per-victim lifetime cost of rape is $122,461. We can also interpret this estimate as the costs averted for each potential victim who does not experience rape. When this per-victim cost is multiplied by the estimated 25 million reported adult victims of rape in the US, we find that rape will cost the economy approximately $3.1 trillion dollars over the lifetimes of those 25 million victims. Of this total, government sources pay an estimated one-third ($1.1 trillion) of the lifetime economic burden.

    Image source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (.n.d.) The Economic Burden of Rape.

    Applying CDC’s estimate to advance sexual violence prevention

    Understanding and quantifying the cost of rape can inform and advance our efforts to prevent sexual violence by helping communities convey the importance of the problem, educating partners and decision-makers on the need for prevention, and conducting cost-benefit analyses to identify the best use of prevention resources.

    Communicating the importance of the problem to the public and others

    The public and other stakeholders may not always recognize the scope and impact of sexual violence as a public health problem. Communicating the high economic burden of rape may provide another avenue for expressing these impacts in ways that resonate with different audiences.

    Below are some example key messages communities could use to convey the importance of sexual violence as a public health problem, using findings from CDC’s economic burden estimate of rape:

    • Sexual violence is a serious and costly public health problem in the US.
    • Rape results in more than $122,000 in costs per victim and nearly $3.1 trillion to the economy over the lifetimes of all 25 million victims in the US population.
    • With about 25 million rape survivors in the US right now, we can expect to spend more than $3 trillion over their lifetimes on health care, criminal justice response, lost productivity, and other costs.
    • The impacts and costs of sexual violence extend well beyond the direct effects on victims and perpetrators. Sexual violence hurts us all, and it can be prevented.

    Educating partners and decision-makers about the importance of investing in prevention

    Communicating the need for prevention — and investments in prevention — is often a critical aspect of work in communities to engage potential partners and gain support for prevention efforts from various decision-makers. Knowing the economic costs of rape to survivors, and to society as a whole, can help prevention partners and decisionmakers understand, in economic terms, both the costs of rape and the benefits of preventing it. These estimates can help communities make informed decisions about their allocation of resources, particularly to effective prevention strategies.

    Below are some example key messages communities could use to convey the potential costs and savings associated with effective comprehensive sexual violence prevention:

    • Not preventing sexual violence results in substantial costs to the economy, in addition to the direct short- and long-term harms to individuals.
    • For every rape prevented, more than $122,000 in lifetime costs are averted.
    • About one-third of the costs of rape are paid by government sources, including the health care, social services, and criminal justice systems.
    • Investing in prevention may ultimately save money and, more importantly, can improve health and lives.

    How to prevent a potential rape

    Conducting cost-benefit analyses to guide prevention decision-making

    Cost analyses can help communities make the best decisions about allocating resources to programs that work and are cost-effective. Cost-effectiveness here refers to the cost of an intervention for preventing rape compared to the cost of consequences of rape. Knowing the cost-effectiveness of an intervention can help communities advocate for investment in prevention and invest resources wisely.

    Prevention is not always cost-saving; as a society, we can expect to pay for interventions that keep us healthier, safer, and happier. Understanding the cost of rape is one more way we can understand what those costs are and ensure they are invested in prevention strategies that work.