Dynamics of Sexual Assault

Any form of sexual assault can be traumatizing. It is important to understand any form of sexual assault is not the fault of the victim or the survivor. Only the perpetrator is responsible for the words that were said or the actions that took place. Sexual assault is not brought on by anything the victims day or don’t say, by anything the victim is wearing, or by the perception of the victim’s actions. Any form of sexual assault is an intentional method of one person having power and control over another.

50 Things Everyone Should Know About Sexual Harassment 

  1. Sexual harassment is uninvited, unwanted, and unwelcome sexual attention.
  2. Sexual jokes, teasing, name-calling, pictures or graffiti can all be forms of sexual harassment.
  3. Unwanted touching and threats are sexual harassment.
  4. Asking a person for sex in exchange for a better grade, a raise or a promotion is sexual harassment.
  5. Creating a hostile environment through words or actions of a sexual nature is sexual harassment.
  6. Comments about a person’s body, sexual activity, or sexual orientation can be sexual harassment.
  7. Sexual harassment can make a person feel uncomfortable or threatened.
  8. Sexual harassment is not a joke; it is a real and serious problem.
  9. Anyone – any social class, economic class, race, or religion can become the target of sexual harassment.
  10. Both women and men can be the target of sexual harassment.
  11. Both women and men can sexually harass someone.
  12. Someone of the opposite sex or the same sex can harass you.
  13. You can be harassed by one person or by a group of people.
  14. Sexual harassment can come from a person in power, like a teacher or boss.
  15. Sexual harassment can also come from peers.
  16. Four in five students say they have experienced some form of sexual harassment at school or school events.
  17. Seventy-nine percent of students who have been harassed were targeted by other students.
  18. A student who is being harassed may have trouble learning, drop a class or drop out of school.
  19. Thirty-three percent of girls who are harassed at school don’t want to attend school.
  20. The most common types of harassment in schools include name calling, sexual comments, jokes, gestures, and unwanted touching.
  21. A person who is being harassed at work may not be able to do as good a job.
  22. As many as ninety percent of women in the United States have been the target of some form of sexual harassment at work.
  23. In ten percent of reported sexual harassment cases, the targets are men.
  24. Two-thirds of sexual harassment complaints at work were brought against a supervisor or someone else with greater power.
  25. People who are sexually harassed often fear for their safety.
  26. A person who is being harassed may feel confused, guilty, helpless, angry, frightened, and alone.
  27. Ninety percent of women who have been sexually harassed have problems with headaches, sleep disorders, weight loss or gain, nausea, lowered self-esteem, or some other type of stress reaction.
  28. If you are the target of sexual harassment, talk to a close friend or family member about your feelings.
  29. If you are being harassed, it is not your fault.
  30. Ignoring sexual harassment won’t make it stop; if it is ignored or not reported, it is likely to continue or become worse.
  31. If you are being harassed, tell the person to stop. In many cases, this is all that is needed to make the harassment stop.
  32. Say, “this is sexual harassment and I want it to stop now.”
  33. If you are not comfortable saying stop, or if it continues after you’ve said stop, ask for help.
  34. If you are being harassed at school, you can get help from a school official such as a teacher or principal.
  35. Many schools and colleges have an affirmative action office, student affairs office or Title IX office. These are good places to go for help.
  36. If you are harassed at work, you can get help from a trusted supervisor or manager.
  37. Schools and workplaces are legally required to stop sexual harassment.
  38. Schools and employers can be held responsible if they know about the harassment and don’t try to stop it.
  39. If the harassment continues, you can file a complaint.
  40. If you are harassed at school, you can file a complaint through the U.S Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights.
  41. If you are harassed at work, you can file a complaint through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
  42. Some types of harassment like assault or rape are punishable by jail time.
  43. If you have been attacked or raped, call the police.
  44. If you are being harassed, write down what happened including the date, time, place, and name of any witnesses. This will help if you need to file a complaint.
  45. You don’t have to be the target of the harassment to be affected by it.
  46. If someone else is being harassed at school or work, you can file a complaint even if you are not the target.
  47. It can be hard to speak out against sexual harassment, but it’s important to do so.
  48. Everyone has the right to a school and work environment free of sexual harassment.
  49. Sexual harassment should never be tolerated.
  50. Everyone deserves to be treated with respect.

Non-Stranger Rape:

Most rape is perpetrated by someone known to the victim, and it is often more difficult to avoid this type of attack (as opposed to an assault by a stranger).

It is important to keep in mind that though the following strategies may be helpful in certain situations, there is no way to completely avoid risk. If you are attacked, regardless of whether you took any, all or none of these precautions, it is not your fault. Only the rapist is responsible.

  • Communicate assertively and clearly. Be clear with yourself and the other person about your boundaries.
  • Keep in mind that excessive drinking or drugs impair judgment and communication skills.
  • Do not leave drinks unattended, which could provide and opportunity for someone to drug you.
  • Try to avoid situations or locations that isolate your from others.
  • Make a scene if it becomes necessary. Don’t worry about looking foolish.

Remember, you always have the right to say no.

Even if:

  • You have been making out.
  • You have been drinking.
  • You have had sex before.
  • You said yes before, then changed your mind.
  • Your partner says, “You owe me.”
  • You dressed in sexy clothes.
  • You think he or she will get mad.

If someone doesn’t listen to you when you say no, it’s not your fault. It’s also important to remember that the absence of the word “no” does not mean “yes.”

Common Reactions to Rape:

There is no right or wrong way to feel after being raped. People are different, consequently they deal with their emotions in many ways. Survivors will commonly experience these feelings.

  • Guilt
  • Shame
  • Shock
  • Loss of trust
  • Anger
  • Worthlessness
  • Self-Doubt
  • Fear
  • Depression
  • Helplessness

Most rape victims experience one or more of the following reactions:

  • Anxiety
  • Excessive crying
  • Nightmare
  • Emotional numbness
  • Mood swings
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Panic attacks
  • Sleeplessness or sleeping too much
  • Eating for comfort or not eating enough
  • Sexual problems (avoiding sex altogether or engaging in high-risk sexual activity)

Many victims believe or are encouraged to believe that they should forget about the rape and get on with their lives. This may work temporarily but seldom works long term. Eventually, the burden of suppressing thoughts and feelings about the rape may begin to affect the survivors work and/or personal life.

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