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Sexual Assault

Rape Is Rape

The following information was adapted from a brochure developed by the San Diego County District Attorney's "Rape Is Rape" campaign. For questions about the campaign, you can contact San Diego Deputy District Attorney Lisa Weinreb at (619) 515-8154.

Definitions

Rape - an act of penile/vaginal penetration committed without the consent of the victim. Penetration, however slight, is an act of rape.

Consent - agreeing to an action freely, voluntarily, and with knowledge of the nature of the act. If you are passed out because of alcohol or drug use, you cannot consent.

Sexual Assault - includes rape, sexual battery, non-consensual sodomy, non-consensual oral copulation, and non-consensual penetration by a foreign object, even a finger.

How to reduce your risk of rape and sexual assault?

Approximately 80% of sexual assaults are committed by someone the victim knows and trusts. Unlike stranger attacks where the suspect might enter the victim's home through a window or jump out of the bushes in a surprise attack, many sexual assault victims may have made choices that could have reduced their risk of sexual assault if they had been more informed.

Here are a few ways to keep you from becoming a victim. With these simple tips, you'll stay in control and reduce your risk of assault.

  • Keep from being drugged
    Don't leave drinks unattended or drink from a punch bowl. Don't drink anything you didn't open yourself and keep in your possession. A variety of drugs, sometimes referred to as "Date rape drugs", can be put in drinks and cause intense drunkenness and memory loss. They can also physically impair you - you cannot walk, talk, or escape assault.
  • Avoid drinking too much and using drugs
    Excessive drinking or use of drugs can make you vulnerable and distort your judgment. This can make it harder to stay in control of the situation. There are rapists out there looking to take advantage of people under these influences.
  • Keep friends close
    Don't go out alone with someone you don't know well. There is strength in numbers; go out with a group instead. Watch out for one another. If a friend looks like she has had too much to drink or is under the influence of drugs, help her and don't leave her with anyone.
  • Stay in control
    Say what you expect from your date - be up front. Know when you or the person you are with is starting to cross the line and stop it immediately. Trust your instincts. If a situation feels unsafe, you are probably right. Get help or go home as soon as possible.

What men and women need to know about sexual assault

  • Be self-aware. Know when you or someone else is starting to cross the line.
  • Even if you have always believed that women sometimes say "no" when they mean "yes", always act as if "no" means "NO".
  • It's NEVER okay to force yourself on someone, even if you think that he or she has been leading you on.
  • Remember that alcohol and/or drugs are involved in the majority of sexual assaults.
  • Support women in being assertive and honest, not passive and coy.

What if you think you have been raped?

Rape is rape. Rape by someone you know is the same as rape by a stranger. It is just as real, just as dangerous... and just as serious.

Remember - rape is never the victim's fault. You have nothing to feel ashamed of or guilty about.

Report It

Reporting sexual assault is an important part of ending violence against women and ensuring he won't rape again!

While it's a personal decision, remember - no one has the right to have sex without the complete consent of the other person. If you do decide to report, do it as soon as possible so evidence of the crime won't be lost, making prosecution more difficult.

Get Help

If you are raped, go to a safe place immediately and get help. Call the police or go to a hospital. If you think you've been drugged, ask the hospital to take a urine sample so the police can analyze it for any substance used to incapacitate you.

Preserve Evidence

If possible, do not bathe, douche, urinate or engage in any activity that may contaminate or destroy valuable evidence such as semen, saliva, hairs and blood. This includes eating, chewing gum, smoking, drinking, brushing teeth and gargling. Doing so might destroy evidence. If you have to urinate, collect the urine in a clean jar with a lid and refrigerate the specimen until you can give it to an officer. If the evidence is preserved, it can be used in the prosecution of the rapist.

Even if you choose not to have a forensic sexual assault examination, you should see a doctor to be treated for sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy. The doctor, however, will by law have to report the assault to the police.

If the report is delayed, evidence may still be available. Do not wash your clothes, sheets or bedding or dispose of any items associated with the sexual assault.