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Sexual Assault

Every two minutes someone in the United States is sexually assaulted.

Sexual AssaultAny type of sexual contact or behavior that takes place without the consent of the recipient is sexual assault. Sometimes such assaults are committed by a stranger, but more commonly, they occur between people who know each other. Every two minutes someone in the United States is sexually assaulted. Thus, each year, more than 200,000 people are sexually assaulted; more than half of those assaults go unreported.1

Some people don’t report an assault because they are embarrassed or feel they did something to instigate the attack. Being a victim of sexual assault can result in severe emotional and psychological damage. Not talking to anyone or seeking counseling for the assault can affect your relationships with friends and family, affect your employment or school work, and cause you to withdraw from social situations.

Date Rape2

One of the more common types of sexual assault is date rape or sexual violence perpetrated by someone you know. Drugs can be used to assist in the sexual assault. Date rape drugs are powerful and often go undetected because they come in the form of a pill or powder that dissolves in drinks. The three most common types of date rape drugs (also known as club drugs) are Rohypnol, GHB, and ketamine. The effects that these drugs can have on the body are dangerous and can make an individual act and feel drunk. These drugs distort perception, block memory, and can cause loss of consciousness and even death. Date rape drugs are fast-acting. Chemically, the drugs take seconds to dissolve, take full effect within 30 minutes, and last for as long as eight hours.

Rohypnol is the only one of the three that is not legal in the United States. It is legal in Europe and Mexico, where it is bought and illegally sold into the United States. GHB and ketamine are legal in the United States. Ketamine is used in veterinary clinics as an anesthetic, and clinics are often robbed for their supplies of this drug. GHB recently became legal and is prescribed in controlled amounts to treat narcolepsy.

To help reduce your chances of being a victim of sexual assault, it helps to understand victimization and reporting. RAINN is the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization. It has compiled a large amount of data on sexual violence to educate, prevent, and assist.

  • Sexual assault is any type of sexual contact or behavior that takes place without the explicit consent of the recipient. Sometimes it is committed by a stranger, but it most commonly occurs between people who know each other, whether they are spouses or on a date.
  • Self-defense classes are offered in most cities and on college campuses, and they’re usually reasonably priced or free.

How To Avoid Dangerous Situations

Be aware of your surroundings.
Know where you are and who is around you. Don’t put headphones in both of your ears, so you can stay focused on those around you and be alert if someone is approaching you.
Avoid isolated areas.
When no one is around you, it is difficult to get help in a bad situation. Stay close to groups of people when you are walking, and steer clear of streets that aren’t well lighted.
Walk with purpose.
Even if you are completely lost, don’t let it show; that will only make you a target. Walk like you know where you are going, and less attention will be paid to you by passersby.
Trust your gut.
If you start to feel uncomfortable about the people around you, the place you are in, or a particular situation, listen to your gut and leave. Taking yourself away from whatever is making you feel uncomfortable is the smartest thing that you can do.
Stay with your group.
If you are attending a social gathering or going out on the town, arrive in a group and don’t stray from your friends. Appearing as a group will lower your chances of becoming a victim of sexual assault or violence.

If you are sexually assaulted

  • Get away from the perpetrator. Find a safe place to go until help arrives; do not bathe or change your clothes—they will serve as evidence for the police and medical staff that will take care of you.
  • Seek medical help even if you do not have any visible signs of physical injury; you may still be at risk for having a sexually transmitted disease. Specially trained medical staff may be able to collect important evidence of the assault. Even if you don’t immediately want to talk to law enforcement, the evidence will have been preserved in case you decide to do so.

1 Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice. Special Report: Intimate Partner Violence, 1993–2010. Washington, DC, 2012. Available:

2 Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN). RAINN Statistics. Washington, DC, 2009. Available:

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