A dual program, Women's Resource Center is a member program of the West Virginia Foundation for Rape Information and Services (FRIS), West Virginia's State Sexual Assault Coalition, and is one of West Virginia's 9 rape crisis centers. More detailed information on sexual assault can be found on the FRIS website at www.fris.org.
The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) reports that 1 out of every 6 women in America will be a victim of sexual assault. RAINN reports that 17.7 million women have been victims of attempted or completed rape, and 9 out of every 10 rape victims in 2003 were female. The statistics for child sexual assault are hideous; 15% of sexual assault and rape victims are under the age of 12 and girls ages 16-19 are 4 times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault.
As one of the most underreported crimes in the United States, 60% of rapes/sexual assaults are never reported to the police. When factoring in unreported rapes, only about 6% of rapists ever serve one day in jail. Victims of rape/sexual assault are 3 times more likely to suffer from depression, 6 times more like to suffer from post traumatic stress disorder, 13 times more likely to abuse alcohol, 26 times more likely to abuse drugs, and 4 times more likely to contemplate suicide. Approximately 2/3 of all rapes are committed by someone known to the victim.
What Is Sexual Assault?
Sexual assault is a crime that happens when you are forced, threatened or manipulated into sexual contact against your will. Commonly referred to as rape, sexual assault is the most under-reported crime in the United States.
Sex without consent is rape, whether the offender is a stranger or someone you know. Rape can happen to anyone at any age, at any place, at any time. The way a person dresses or behaves doesn’t cause rape. Few convicted rapists remember how the victim was dressed or what the victim looked like.
Rape is a crime of violence and power. It is prompted by an urge to control another human being in the most personal way. It is not prompted by sexual desire.
No one “asks” or “deserves” to be raped. Rapists surprise their victims by catching them off guard, by tricking them, by taking advantage of daily activities of life or by lying.
Sexual assault includes:
• Rape—sexual intercourse against a person’s will
• Forcible sodomy—anal or oral sex against a person’s will
• Forcible object penetration—penetrating someone’s vagina
or anus, or causing that person to penetrate her or himself,
against that person’s will
• Marital rape
• Unwanted sexual touching
• Sexual contact with minors, whether consensual or not
• Incest (Sexual intercourse or sexual intrusion between
• Any unwanted or coerced sexual contact
Other sexual crimes include:
• Sexual harassment
• Solicitation of minors through the Internet
• Possession of child pornography
Myths and Facts:
Contrary to what many people believe, not all rapes involve extreme physical force or brutality. MAKE SURE YOU HAVE THE RIGHT INFORMATION. IF YOU THINK……
"It can't happen to me."
Yes, it can. Sexual violence can happen to anyone-regardless of gender, race, age, socio-economic status, or religion. Victims of sexual assault include infants, people in their eighties, people of color, lesbians/gays, individuals with disabilities, women, and men. It is believed that 1 in 3 adult women and 1 in 6 adult men will be sexually assaulted in her/his lifetime.
- Teens 16 to 19 are 3 1/2 times more likely to be victims of rape than the general population.
- 25-35% of child sexual abuse victims are males.
"Sexual violence can sometimes be the victim's fault."
Sexual violence is NEVER the victim's fault. It doesn't matter if the victim was dressed seductively, drinking or using drugs, out at night alone, homosexual, on a date with the perpetrator, etc. - no one asks to be raped. The responsibility and blame lie with the perpetrator, never with the victim.
The absence of injuries often suggests to others that the victim failed to resist and, therefore, must have consented. Often, rapists only need the threat of violence to control their victims. They also sometimes use "date rape" drugs to incapacitate their victims. Some victims submit to the assault for fear of greater harm. Submitting does not mean the victim gave consent. Each rape victim does whatever he/she needs to do at the time in order to survive.
"If the people are dating, it's not rape."
Rape is rape, no matter what the relationship is between the victim and perpetrator. Rape is not just committed by strangers in dark alleys. It is estimated that 77% of all rapes are committed by someone known to the victim and 28% of victims are raped by husbands or boyfriends.
Everyone has the right to change their mind - even about sex. One form of sexual contact does not necessarily open the door to other sexual activity. Even if the two have had sex before, the perpetrator does not have the right to force sex on the victim. There are many ways a person can be forced into sexual activity. Sometimes perpetrators use physical force or a weapon, but more often they use coercion, manipulation, or psychological pressure.
Although sexual violence can never be prevented, here are some suggestions to help you reduce your risk of being assaulted.
- Trust your gut. If you don't feel comfortable in a situation, leave.
- Be in charge of your own life. Don't put yourself in a situation where you have to rely on other people to take care of you. Also, when on a date, don't feel you "owe" that person anything.
- Be cautious inviting someone into your home or going to someone else's home. Three out of 5 sexual assaults occur in the victim's home or the home of an acquaintance.
- Do not mix sexual decisions with drugs and alcohol. Your ability to make smart decisions is hampered when you are drunk or high.
- When going out with someone new, don't feel you have to go alone. Go on a group date or meet in a public place.
- Be aware of drugs used to facilitate rape. Don't accept beverages from open containers and don't leave your drink unattended.
- Avoid falling for lines such as "If you loved me." If your partner loved you, he/she would respect your feelings and wait until you are ready.
- Avoid individuals who:
- Communicate. Think about what you really want before you get into a sexual situation, and communicate clearly with your partner. If you think you are getting mixed messages, ask your date what he/she wants.
Be assertive. Respect yourself enough not to do anything you don't want to do. Your opinions matter, and when you say "no," your date should stop.