What is Sexual Assault?
Sexual assault is a crime of violence, not sexual passion. It is meant to degrade, humiliate and control. The attacker may be a stranger or someone known and trusted. It can happen to anyone, at any time, at any place. The trauma of being assaulted is a shock from which many victims never fully recover.
There is no portrait of a "typical" rapist. These men, like their victims, are all ages and come from all racial and social backgrounds. They can be college students, married men, doctors, teachers, or unemployed transients. Most are not crazy or deranged men looking for sex. The majority of offenders are highly intelligent, married men with families and have ready access to consensual sex, but they rape to control, dominate and humiliate the victim.
The information in this brochure provides suggestions on how to avoid dangerous situations, ways to resist if threatened or attacked, and what to do after an attack. The information is by no means complete.
Safety at Home
- If someone knocks at your door, be careful. They may be a criminal posing as a delivery person or salesman. Communicate with them with the door closed and verify their business.
- Do not open the door unless you know who is there.
- Install a door viewer (peephole) to see who is outside your door without opening the door.
- Never admit you are alone.
- Use your last name and first initial on your mailbox.
- Don’t state your name or telephone number or where you may be on your answering machine.
- If someone dials your number by mistake, do not reveal your correct number or your name. Ask what number he dialed and advise him to call again.
- Walk at a steady pace; appear confident and purposeful.
- Do not take short cuts where you would be in a deserted area, such as an alley or parking lot.
- Walk near the curb and avoid passing close to shrubbery, dark doorways and other places of concealment.
- Do not hitchhike.
- Never get into a stranger’s vehicle, even if your car breaks down and someone offers to give you a ride to seek help. Ask him to send help while you remain in your locked vehicle.
- If being forced to enter a vehicle on the street, remember that your chance of getting help is better there than in a deserted area where the rapist plans to take you. Make lots of noise, scream "police, help."
- Drive with all the doors locked.
- Exercise extra caution when using enclosed parking garages. Try not to go alone.
- Park in a well-lighted area and lock the doors, even if you will only be gone a short time.
- Before walking to your car, check the parking lot for suspicious people.
- If your car breaks down, put up the hood, lock the doors, and put on the flashers. If someone stops to help, do not get out of the car, but roll down the window slightly and ask him or her to call the police or tow service for you.
- If you are being followed, do not drive home. Go to the nearest police or fire station and honk your horn, or drive to an open business or gas station where you can safely call the police. Do not leave your car unless you are certain you can safely get inside the business.
- If your car is being repaired, leave only the car key with the repair shop. Take your other keys with you.
Surviving the Attack
The best resistance you can use against an attacker is your common sense. Think! Do not panic.
The most important element to remember is that you are not trying to fight the attacker, but are attempting to divert the person long enough to get away. Always look for a way to escape.
If the attacker has a weapon, use your common sense. Fighting against it could be dangerous.
- Stay calm. Do not do anything that may upset the attacker.
- Try to convince the person to put the weapon down.
- Talk to your attacker; show sympathy and understanding.
- Make the attacker see you as an individual, not as an object.
If the attacker is unarmed, you may be able to scare, distract or injure the person enough to make your escape.
- Scream "FIRE," or create a disturbance that will attract attention.
- Assert yourself and fight back if you can do so safely. Your intention is to distract or temporarily injure the attacker to create an opportunity for escape. YOUR GOAL IS TO ESCAPE, NOT TO WIN.
- Break away and run toward an area with people.
- Be observant so that you will be able to remember and identify the assailant.
If You Have Been Attacked
- Call the POLICE.
- Do not shower, douche, or change clothing.
- Do not disturb the scene of the assault.
- Inform police of all details of the attack.
- Police may request your clothes for evidence.
For more information or to arrange for a free Sexual Assault prevention seminar for your organization contact:
St. Petersburg Police Department
Crime Prevention Unit