Although it is a subject that no one wants to discuss, we need to do all we can to help persons know how to protect themselves from sexual assault.  The month of April is National Sexual Assault Awareness Month – a time to consider that this problem is one that is committed all too often.  Many times, assault victims don’t report it, because they become the one that is blamed for the act, rather than the perpetrator.  Rape, or sexual assault, is a violent crime, not a sexual act.

Listed below are good tips from the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault.  Please consider these ways to reduce your risk of becoming a victim: 

  • On Dates:  If you are on a first date with someone, and you don’t really know much about that person, meet in a public place, arriving and leaving separately.  If a situation makes you uncomfortable, speak up.  Don’t isolate yourself with someone you don’t know or trust.  Trust your feelings; if it doesn’t feel right, or you feel pressured, listen to yourself.  Once you say “No”, it becomes a crime if an assault takes place.
  • At Home: Have a door viewer and a dead bolt lock on your front door.  Never hide a key over a door or other obvious places.  Be cautious about revealing personal information over the phone or internet.  Keep your blinds and curtains closed at night.  Never admit strangers or unwanted contacts to your home under any circumstances.
  • In the Car:  Always lock your car when leaving and entering it.  Look in the back seat before entering your car.  Have your cell phone with you at all times.  Lock yourself in the car if you have car trouble, call for help, and wait for assistance to arrive.  If you think someone is following you, drive to the nearest public place and blow your horn.  If a police station or hospital is nearby, go there.
  • At Parties:  Go with friends and stay with your group.  Watch out for each other and leave together.  Never leave a beverage unattended.  Overuse of alcohol or drugs can decrease your awareness and make you vulnerable.  No matter how persuasive or attractive a stranger may be, never leave with that person.
  • On the Street:  Don’t walk close to alleyways and bushes.  Wear sensible clothing and shoes, which will allow you to maneuver or run.  Stay alert and aware.  If you walk or jog, take alternate routes or time on the street.  Predictable behavior is risky.  Keep your cell phone in your pocket. 

Other statistics pertaining to this topic, are the ones regarding Child Sexual Assault.  Between 75 per cent and 80 per cent of assailants are known to the family, or are family members.  Parents should know that young children do not make up stories about a subject as serious as this.  Children are never responsible for these assaults made against them; however, most children are afraid to tell their parents.  Children can be taught to use their own resources to protect themselves, such as kicking, yelling, running, getting help, etc.  The key is that they know to whom they can turn for immediate and unquestioning help.  Schools may do some instruction to children on ways to protect themselves. 

Again, we can’t turn our backs on subjects that are not pleasant to discuss.  Counselors encourage people to spread the word about ways to avoid becoming a victim.  It can happen to children, adults, seniors, any one, any age.  The National Sexual Assault Hotline, (800-656-HOPE) is available 24/7, offering free confidential services.