Sexual assault or rape is never the responsibility of the victim. Sexual assault is always, always the fault of the rapist, no matter what the victim was wearing, how she was behaving, how much she had to drink or her sexual history.
The vast majority of sexual assaults are committed not by strangers, but by people known to the victim – boyfriends, husbands, coworkers or friends. Many “rape prevention tips” use the image of a man behind a bush in the shadows, but globally, statistics have shown that such assaults account for a small percentage of reported cases.
Though women should not have to curtail their behaviour or freedom to avoid risk of sexual assault, there are some precautions women can take if they would like to. Not following these precautions does not “invite” rape. We can never place the responsibility of rape on the victim’s choices.
Some things you can remember:
- You have the absolute right to say no to any sexual activity at any stage – even if he’s your boyfriend or husband, even if you’re participating in some sexual activity already, even if you’ve given consent to sex before. Set your limits by what you’re comfortable with.
- If your partner is not respecting your limits or your wishes, walk away from the situation if you can safely do so.
- Unwanted sexual activity in any form constitutes sexual assault. If you’re comfortable, you can file a police report against anyone who does not respect your limits or your “no”.
- Lack of “no” does not mean “yes”. If you are unable to say “no” (for example, if you’ve had a lot to drink, or feel threatened by your partner), you cannot legally give consent. Everyone involved in a sexual situation must make sure they have true consent at every stage.
- When out at a bar or a party, keep your drink with you. Leaving a drink unattended makes it possible for someone to spike it with alcohol or “date rape drugs”.
- Watch out for your friends when at a bar or a party. Don’t let a man leave with an intoxicated friend who seems too drunk to consent to any sexual activity.
If you have experienced sexual assault or rape, remember that it was not at all your fault, even if you choose not to report your experience. Reach out for help. Talk to trusted friends or family members, or call the AWARE Sexual Assault Care Centre (6779 0282). We can provide confidential counselling, legal advice and emotional support to help you deal with your experience.
Click on these links for more information on rape and sexual assault: