Help Protect Yourself and Others
1) Take a self defense class
Taking a self defense class will not only give you valuable tools to fight off an attacker, it can also help your self-esteem by building confidence in your ability to protect yourself.
2) Talk to your friends honestly and openly about sexual assault
There are three types of physiological reactions that occur in response to a perceived harmful event, attack, or threat to survival: Fight, flight or freeze. Freezing is a very common response to sexual assault, it can happen very quickly and be quite a shock. Talk with your friends about what you would say or do if someone sexually assaulted you. Discuss different scenarios and see what solutions you can come up with. By brainstorming different strategies you will feel more prepared if you are assaulted, instead of trying to come up with something on the spot.
3) Find your boundaries
Everyone is different. Knowing what your personal boundaries are can make it easier to speak up when that boundary is being crossed. If you don't know your boundaries it can be difficult to establish what type of behavior/physical contact you feel comfortable with in the moment. Most importantly, speak up when someone crosses that boundary. Don't forget that "I'm not comfortable with that" and "No" are complete sentences. You don't have to justify your boundaries.
4) Use the buddy system when you're out with friends and be a buddy to those who need it
We all need to look out for each other. Keep an eye on anyone who has had too much to drink. If you see someone too intoxicated to consent, help them get home safely. If you don't know the person, enlist their friends to help them leave safely. When you drop your friends off at night, make sure they get inside their building safely before driving off.
6) Trust your gut
If something looks like it might be a bad situation it probably is. Ask someone who looks like they may need help if they're okay.
7) Code words and signals
Come up with a code word or a signal for you and your friends to use if you're getting unwanted attention. A signal will allow you to check in with each other from across the room. When your friend sees the signal they'll know to come over and get you away from the person you're talking to.
8) Keep an eye out and intervene
Recognize the potential danger of someone who talks about planning to target another person at a party/bar. Be aware if someone is deliberately trying to intoxicate, isolate, or corner someone else. If you see someone exhibiting this kind of behavior toward another person, get involved. Get in the way by creating a distraction, drawing attention to the situation, or separating them.
9) Never blame the victim
Understand that if someone does not or cannot consent to sex, it's rape.
10) Support survivors
When someone you care about tells you they’ve been sexually assaulted or abused, it can be a lot to handle. A supportive reaction can make all the difference, but that doesn’t mean it comes easy. Encouraging words and phrases can avoid judgment and show support for the survivor. Check out RAINN's guide on how to respond to a survivor.
Recovering from Sexual Assault
Recovering from sexual assault or abuse is a process, and that process looks different for everyone. It may take weeks, months, or years: there’s no timetable for healing. Here are some resources to help you navigate the process directly from RAINN's website.
- Steps You Can Take After Sexual Assault - It's hard to know what to do, how to feel, or what your options are after a sexual assault. There is help available. You are not alone.
- Safety Planning - Brainstorming ways to stay safe may help reduce the risk of future harm.
- Receiving Medical Attention - After sexual assault, a medical exam can help check for injuries, even those you may not be able to see.
- Help Someone You Care About - There are many ways that you can help a friend or family member who has been affected by sexual violence.
- Reporting to Law Enforcement - Understanding how to report and learning more about the experience can take away some of the unknowns and help you feel more prepared.
- What Is a Rape Kit? - During a sexual assault forensic exam, a trained professional can collect DNA evidence from your body, clothes, and other personal belongings.
- How to Respond to a Survivor - Someone you care about had the courage to tell you what happened. How you react can have a big impact on their recovery.
- How Can Therapy Help? - If you decide to seek support from a therapist after sexual assault or abuse, you may have some questions. That's perfectly normal. Working with a therapist can help you deal with some of the challenges you may be facing.
NOTE: Affordable therapy is available for everyone, it's just a matter of finding the right therapist. Check out this helpful article for details on on how to find affordable therapy that works for you .
If you are victim or survivor, or helping someone in that situation go to www.notalone.gov to get resources and information you need. You can also call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE.