Most rapes are committed by friends, dating partners, or other acquaintances of the victim. Acquaintance rape is any sexual act that is forced, manipulated, or coerced by someone you know.
Decrease the likelihood of becoming a victim of sexual assault by using the following strategies:
Communicate clearly and concisely. Decide before you go out with someone how physically intimate you want to become with him or her. Don't wait until the “heat of the moment” to make decisions about sex. Although it can be difficult to talk about sex, use clear, assertive words to communicate what you want and/or don’t want. Ask your partner to do the same, and listen and believe your partner. If your partner communicates in any way that he/she doesn’t want a particular sexual behavior, respect that. Accept that “no means no.”
Alcohol and drugs are involved in the majority of rape cases. When drunk or high, people are more vulnerable and less able to make good judgments about their safety. People often use drugs or alcohol as an excuse to get “out of control.” If you have sex with someone who is too drunk or high to make a good decision, it can be considered rape.
Be aware of your surroundings.
Sexual assault most often occurs in the home or car of one of the people involved. Meet your dates in public places, don’t allow yourself to be isolated, and have your own transportation.
Be aware that non-verbal actions may send mixed messages.
No one ever asks to be sexually assaulted or raped, and rape is never the victim’s fault. Unfortunately, however, sometimes people think that a person is “asking for it” by the way they dress, dance, or behave, so it is important to be aware of the way your behavior is seen by others. Sometimes people take flirting or kissing as a message that a person wants sex, no matter what they say. Don't ever make assumptions about what another person wants; always ask for clarification.
Make a plan for prevention with your friends. Talk about what you would do In different dangerous situations so you are prepared. Go out together, look out for each other, and make sure you leave together.
Trust your gut. If you feel afraid, say so, and get out of the situation. Don’t worry about being polite, looking stupid, or hurting someone’s feelings.
Speak up about abuse.
Let abusive friends, family, and co-workers know it’s not okay. Speak up when others make sexist jokes, sexually harass others, or brag about “hooking up,” because these things show attitudes that can lead to sexually assaultive behavior. Role-model respectful relationships. If you witness violence, call Public Safety (610-902-8245) or the police.
Be aware that nothing you do is a guarantee against sexual assault. People get sexually assaulted. If you are assaulted, get help. Call Counseling Services (610-902-8561) or a rape crisis hotline like 1-800-656-HOPE, get medical attention, talk to someone you trust, and remember it’s not your fault.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted and needs emotional support or guidance, contact Counseling and Psychological Services (610-902-8561) to speak confidentially to a licensed mental health professional or seek medical attention at Health Services (610-902-8400).
Information adapted from Moles, K. (2001). The Relationship Workbook. Wellness Reproductions and Publishing.