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In the United States, 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men have been raped in their lifetime and nearly 1 in 2 women and 1 in 5 men have experienced other forms of sexual violence at some point in their lives.

Approximately 1 in 21 men have been made to penetrate someone else, and 13% of women and 6% of men are sexually coerced in their lifetimes. Our ultimate goal is to call attention to and stop sexual violence before it begins and to start conversations about how to prevent sexual violence.

Many Victims do not Disclose Sexual Violence

Statistics underestimate the problem because many victims do not tell the police, family, or friends about the violence. Sexual violence is any sexual activity where consent is not freely given. This includes completed or attempted sex acts that are against the victim's will or involve a victim who is unable to consent.

Sexual violence can also include:

  • Unwanted sexual contact, and
  • Non-contact unwanted sexual experiences (such as verbal sexual harassment)

Sexual violence can be committed by anyone:

  • A current or former intimate partner
  • A family member
  • A person in position of power or trust
  • A friend or acquaintance
  • A stranger, or someone known only by sight

Sexual violence impacts health in many ways and can lead to long-term physical and mental health problems. Victims may experience chronic pain, headaches, and sexually transmitted diseases. They are often fearful or anxious and may have problems trusting others. Anger and stress can lead to eating disorders, depression, and even suicidal thoughts.

If you are, or someone you know is a victim of sexual violence,

  • Contact us here at Project SAFE, Inc. We have a 24/7 answering service and an advocate on call!
  • Contact the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE, free, confidential, 24/7 and get information at RAINN.
  • Contact your local emergency services at 9-1-1.

Working to Prevent Sexual Violence

CDC (the Center for Disease Control) uses a 4-step approach to address public health problems such as sexual violence:

  • Define the problem
  • Identify risk and protective factors
  • Develop and test prevention strategies
  • Assure widespread adoption

The ultimate goal is to stop sexual violence before it begins.

Consent as it applies to Sexual Assault

I wanted to talk a bit today about the MOST important subject of all regarding sexual assault – CONSENT!

So, yes is yes and no is no, right? Shall I say “sort-of” and really confuse us all? This is what loveisrespect.org has to say about Consent:

As important as consent is, we don’t talk about it enough. So it’s understandable if you’re a little unsure about what it is – and what it isn’t. You may have heard the idea that “no means no,” but this doesn’t really provide a complete picture of consent because it puts the responsibility on one person to resist or accept. It also makes consent about what a partner doesn’t want, instead of being able to openly express what they do want.

Well, How Does It Work?

Some people are worried that talking about consent will be awkward or that it will ruin the mood, which is far from true. If anything, the mood is much more positive when both partners are happy and can freely communicate what they want. First off, talk about what terms like “hooking up” or “going all the way” mean to each partner. Consider having these conversations during a time when you’re not being physically intimate.

If you are in the heat if the moment, here are some suggestions of things to say:

  • Are you comfortable?
  • Is this okay?
  • Do you want to slow down?
  • Do you want to go any further?

What consent looks like:

  • Communicating every step of the way. For example, during a hookup, ask if it’s okay to take your partner’s shirt off and don’t just assume that they are comfortable with it.
  • Respecting that when they don’t say “no,” it doesn’t mean “yes.”
  • Breaking away from gender “rules.” Girls are not the only ones who might want to take it slow. Also, it’s not a guy’s job to initiate the action (or anything else, really).

What consent does NOT look like:

  • Assuming that dressing sexy, flirting, accepting a ride, accepting a drink etc. is in any way consenting to anything more.
  • Saying yes (or saying nothing) while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Saying yes or giving into something because you feel too pressured or too afraid to say no.

Here are some red flags that indicate your partner doesn’t respect consent:

  • They pressure or guilt you into doing things you may not want to do.
  • They make you feel like you “owe” them — because you’re dating, or they gave you a gift, etc.
  • They react negatively (with sadness, anger or resentment) if you say “no” to something, or don’t immediately consent.
  • They ignore your wishes, and don’t pay attention to nonverbal cues that could show you’re not consenting (ex: pulling/pushing away).

Get Consent Every Time

In a healthy relationship, it’s important to discuss and respect each other’s boundaries consistently. It’s not ok to assume that once someone consents to an activity, it means they are consenting to it anytime in the future as well. Whether it’s the first time or the hundredth time, a hookup, a committed relationship or even marriage, nobody is ever obligated to give consent just because they have done so in the past. A person can decide to stop an activity at any time, even if they agreed to it earlier. Above all, everyone has a right to their own body and to feel comfortable with how they use it — no matter what has happened in the past.

***

Another very important aspect of Consent is age. Per state statute, age is a factor regarding whether or not someone CAN consent. Another favorite source on this subject is Campus Clarity’s video on Consent. You can find it on Youtube. It actually gives the example of cell phone usage consent, but it’s quite effective getting the point across.

What to do:

Definition:

According to Wikipedia, Sexual assault, a form of sexual violence, is any involuntary sexual act in which a person is threatened, coerced, or forced to engage against their will, or any non-consensual sexual touching of a person. This includes rape (such as forced vaginal, anal or oral penetration or drug facilitated sexual assault), groping, forced kissing, child sexual abuse, or the torture of the victim in a sexual manner.

Sexual assault refers to sexual activity where consent is not obtained or freely give.

Sexual assault is any sexual activity to which you haven't freely given your consent. This includes completed or attempted sex acts that are against your will. Sometimes it can involve a victim who is unable to consent. It also includes abusive sexual contact. It can happen to men, women or children.

What I want to talk about today is options. No one asks to be sexually assaulted, but if it does occur to you or someone you care about, here are some guidelines;

  1. Get safe. Go somewhere you feel safe and call a friend, family member, or a Sexual Assault hotline.
  2. Decide if you want to report it to Law Enforcement.
  3. Yes; call 911
  4. Maybe; Sexual Assault kits are available anonymously. Again, information is available through the hospital, the police department or Project SAFE.
  5. No; Write down the incident, including any witnesses to any portion of the assault/incident.
  6. Get counseling. I don’t mean professional counseling is the only way to recover from a sexual assault. Sometimes a good friend or confident will do as much good. But sometimes professional counseling can provide the tools needed to work through issues stemming from the assault.

Of course the first option is to avoid being sexually assaulted. Everyone tries to make good decisions to reduce the likelihood they will be easily preyed upon. But the bottom line - it does not matter what the situation- whether it involves intoxication, certain style of clothing, or location- everyone is allowed to determine who touches them. We all have the rightful expectation to freedom from assault.

Resources:

More Information

**information from cdc.gov**

Loveisrespect.org

Little-known or otherwise interesting facts:

An anonymous sexual assault kit can be collected and stored with no report made to law enforcement at the time of collection.

There is no statute of limitations on crime in Wyoming.

Most sexual assaults are perpetrated by someone known to the victim.

Only YES, from two individuals not incapacitated in any way, is clear consent.

Maybe, No, Coercion, Manipulation, or alcohol induced agreement are not clear consent.

If you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual assault or sexual violence, there is always someone to talk to.