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Sex assault awareness

April 23, 2012
The Daily News

More than one woman is raped every minute, of every day.

In most cases, the victim knows her attacker.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

All area females of dating age should be aware of the dangers of dating new acquaintances.

Date rape is a topic that few people are truly comfortable discussing.

National Crime Prevention Council has issued a list of reminders about date and acquaintance rape - whether you are male or female.

Let's look at sexual stereotyping and how men and women talk to each other.

Although times are changing, society still frequently encourages men to be competitive and aggressive, and teaches women to be passive and avoid confrontation.

Men often say they misunderstand a woman's words and actions - the "She said no, but she meant yes" excuse. That's hogwash.

As ignorant as it sounds, some people still believe that it's OK for a man to demand sex if he buys a woman dinner or gifts, and that it's not wrong for a man to rape a woman who previously had sex with him or other men.

As a woman, you can:

- Talk openly about sex, and keep talking as you get deeper into a relationship.

- Be careful not to let alcohol or other drugs decrease your ability to take care of yourself and make sensible decisions.

- Trust your gut feelings. If a place or the way he acts makes you nervous or uneasy, get out.

- Check out a first date or a blind date with friends. Insist on going to a public place like a movie, sporting event, or restaurant. Carry a cell phone, money for a taxi, or take your own car.

- Don't leave a party, concert, game, or other social occasion with someone you just met or don't know well.

- Be conscious of exits or other escape routes.

- Take a look at the men around you and be wary of anyone who puts you down, or tries to control how you dress or your choice of friends.

- Establish a code word so that family, friends, etc. know when to call for help.

- Have a backup plan in case the first fails.

- Carry a small noisemaker (like a whistle) and/or flashlight on your keychain.

As a man, you can:

- Ask yourself how sexual stereotypes affect your attitudes and actions toward women.

- Accept a woman's decision when she says "no." Don't see it as a challenge.

- Avoid clouding your judgment and understanding of what another person wants by using alcohol and other drugs.

- Realize that forcing a woman to have sex against her will is rape, a violent crime with serious consequences.

- Never be drawn into a gang rape - at parties, fraternities, bars, or after sporting events.

- Seek counseling or a support group to help you deal with feelings of violence and aggression against women.

If date rape happens to you:

- Get help. Phone the police, a friend, a rape crisis center, a relative, or the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

- Don't isolate yourself, don't feel guilty, and don't try to ignore it. It is a crime that should be reported. Rape by someone you know is a violation of your body and your trust.

- Get medical attention as soon as possible. Do not shower, wash, douche, or change your clothes. Valuable evidence could be destroyed.

- Get counseling to help deal with the emotional trauma caused by rape.

If it happens to someone you know:

- Believe her.

- Offer comfort and support. Go with her to the hospital, police station, or counseling center.

- Let her know she's not to blame.



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