Sexual Assault Awareness

April is sexual assault awareness month.  It was an honor for me to teach a free self-defense seminar for the local YWCA on April 6.  The seminar went very well and we had around 25 in attendance.  I taught some simple, effective movements to escape from a couple possible wrist grabs and a couple chokes.  Because this is sexual assault awareness month I wanted to write an article about this topic. Included in my article is information I came across about this topic.


Sexual assault takes many forms.  It is any unwanted sexual contact including rape, attempted rape, and child sexual abuse.  It can affect people of any gender, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or ability. According to the National Violence Against Women Survey, 1 in 6 American women has been the victim of rape or attempted rape.


Perpetrators of sexual assault can be friends, acquaintances, family members, or strangers.  People off all walks of life can be a perpetrator.  It doesn’t matter how intelligent a person is, how well he dresses, how much money he makes, or how nice he is.  Always keep your eyes open for warning signs.

The exact definition of “rape,” “sexual assault,” “sexual abuse” and similar terms differs by state. The wording can get confusing, since states often use different words to mean the same thing, or use the same words to describe different things. So, for a precise legal definition, you need to check the law in your state. But here are some general guidelines based on the definitions used by the U.S. Justice Department. Please note that these definitions are a bit graphic, which is inevitable when describing crimes this violent.

Rape is forced sexual intercourse, including vaginal, anal or oral penetration. Penetration may be by a body part or an object.

Rape victims may be forced through threats or physical means. In about 8 out of 10 rapes, no weapon is used other than physical force. Anyone may be a victim of rape: women, men or children, straight or gay.

Sexual assault is unwanted sexual contact that stops short of rape or attempted rape. This includes sexual touching and fondling. (But, be aware: Some states use this term interchangeably with rape.)

Sexual assault can take the form of:

  • Harassment
  • Exposing/flashing
  • Forcing a person to pose for sexual pictures
  • Fondling
  • Unwanted sexual touching

In the most extreme cases, sexual assault may involve force which may include but is not limited to:

  • Use or display of a weapon
  • Physical battering
  • Immobilization of the victim

More often, however, sexual assault involves psychological coercion and taking advantage of an individual who is under duress or incapacitated and, therefore, incapable of making a decision on his/her own (including under the influence of alcohol, drugs and/or prescription medications).

Sexual assault is a crime motivated by a need to control, humiliate and harm. Perpetrators use sexual assault as a weapon to hurt and dominate others.

Common Reactions to Sexual Assault Include:

  • Shock
  • Numbness
  • Loss of control
  • Disorientation
  • Helplessness
  • Sense of vulnerability
  • Fear
  • Self-blame/guilt for “allowing” the crime to happen
  • Feeling that these reactions are a sign of weakness


If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual assault please call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (800-656-4673) to be connected to the rape crisis center near you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, or visit for more information.


The National Sexual Violence Resource Center can provide you with more information on sexual assault and help you find assistance in your local area.  Visit or call 877-739-3895.


(Below is a good article I found and wanted to share)


What is Sexual Assault?

Most often when people hear the words “sexual assault” they think of rape. One might automatically picture a stranger jumping out of the bushes to rape a woman walking home from work late at night. While it is true that rape by a stranger is a form of sexual assault, it is vital to include the wide range of unwanted sexual contacts that many people experience in our definition of these words. Sexual assault can include child sexual abuse, rape, attempted rape, incest, exhibitionism, voyeurism, obscene phone calls, fondling, and sexual harassment. There is a range of nonconsensual sexual acts that create a continuum in which each form of sexual assault is linked to the others by their root causes, as well as by the effects they have on individuals and communities. While sexual assault can take many forms, it is important to remember that the loss of power and control that a victim of sexual assault experiences is a common thread.

Child sexual abuse can be defined as any situation in which an adult or another child threatens, forces or manipulates a child into sexual activity. Many times the offender doesn’t need to use physical force with the victim. Instead, they take advantage of their own position of trust and authority. Child sexual abuse can include exposing a child to pornography, fondling the sexual parts of a child’s body, making a child engage in sexual activity with others, and sexually penetrating a child, orally, anally or vaginally with the penis, hand or any object. Incest is intercourse or touching of sexual parts between an adult family member and a child or between siblings.

Rape is any sexual intercourse with a person without his or her consent. It is an act of violence that uses sex as a weapon. There are many different types of rape that are important to distinguish as well. Stranger rape happens when the victim does not know his or her offender. Many people believe that this type of rape only happens to women who dress a certain way, walk alone at night, or park in parking garages. The reality of stranger rape is that it happens during the day and at night, to people from all different walks of life, and in lots of different places.

Acquaintance rape describes a rape in which the victim and the perpetrator are known to each other. The perpetrator might be a partner, coworker, best friend or neighbor. Did you know that this is the most common type of rape? 84 percent of rapes happen among people who know one another. Most of the time a person is raped by someone they know, trust, or love.

Date rape is a specific kind of acquaintance rape, referring to a rape that occurs between two people who are dating partners. Often times the victim is emotionally manipulated or coerced into having sex with his or her partner. Marital rape, one of the least talked about forms of sexual assault, is rape between husband and wife. Because of personal and societal barriers to reporting marital rape, its prevalence is probably higher than we are aware.

Sexual harassment is any unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment often manifests itself in subtle ways, such as sexually suggestive comments, unwanted touching, risqué jokes, or blatant demand for sexual contact. In most cases, these actions take place within work or educational settings where both the offender and the victim are required to be in close contact.

There are many types of sexual assault. It is important to understand the differences between them, as well as how they are linked together. Unfortunately, because of the silence that surrounds sexual assault, there have been many myths created over time to help explain why it happens and who it happens to. We often hear things like “only women can be raped”, “a husband can’t rape his wife”, “she asked for it by wearing those shorts”, and “that child must be lying – his father is a good man.” We know that these things are not true. Both women and men can be sexually assaulted. Rape can occur within a marriage. A victim never asks to be raped and is never to blame for behavior of the perpetrator. People who sexually assault are often people who go to church, have good jobs, and are well liked by their community.

Common Effects of Sexual Assault

Victims of sexual assault often experience a number of common effects. These may include:

  • Flashbacks
  • Nightmares
  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • Anger and rage
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Hypervigilence
  • Anxiety and panic
  • Self-blame, guilt, and shame
  • Emotional numbing
  • Physical symptoms and health problems

What to Do if Someone You Know is Sexually Assaulted

Believe them. A person has very little to gain by making up a story about sexual assault.

  • Listen to them. A victim of sexual assault needs someone who will listen to what they have to say without blame or judgment.
  • Do not tell them what to do. A person who has been sexually assaulted has had every ounce of power and control stripped from them. They only way they are going to gain that power back is by making decisions for themselves.
  • Give them information, provide them options, but don’t tell them what to do. A great place to get information is your local sexual assault center.

[end article]

Earlier in my article I mentioned “warning signs.”  Below is a write up I found to be extremely accurate.  This list is about the signs of how to predict if someone may be physically abusive.  Women do not want to be in physically abusive relationships.  So, women, pay VERY close attention to the following signs of a physically abusive man.


1.Jealousy: At the beginning of a relationship, an abuser will always say that jealousy is a sign of love: jealousy has nothing to do with love, it is a sign of insecurity and possessiveness.  The abuser will question her about who she talks to, accuse her of flirting, or be jealous of time she spends with family, friends, or children. As the jealousy progresses, the abuser may call her repeatedly at work (or home) or drop by unexpectedly. The abuser may refuse to let her work for fear she will meet someone else, or exhibit other strange behaviors (like checking her car mileage or asking friends to watch her).

2.Controlling Behavior
: At first the batterer will say that this behavior is because of concern for the woman’s safety, her need to use her time well, or her need to make good decisions. The abuser will be angry if the woman is “late” coming back from the store or an appointment, or will question her closely about where she went, and who she talked to.  As this behavior gets worse, the abuser may not let the women make personal decisions about the house, her clothing or going to church, may keep all the money or even require she ask permission to leave the house or room.
3. Quick Involvement: Many battered women dated or knew their abuser for less than six months before they were engaged or living together.  The abuser comes on like a whirlwind, “you are the only person I could ever talk to, I have never felt loved like this by anyone.” The abuser’s need is desperate and will pressure the woman to commit to the relationship.
4.Unrealistic Expectations:  The abuser becomes dependent on the woman for all needs. He expects her to be the perfect wife, mother, lover, and friend. The abuser will say things like “If you love me, I am all you need, you are all I need.”  The woman is automatically expected to know each emotional and physical need of the abuser.
5.Isolation: The abuser attempts to isolate the woman from all personal and social resources.  If she has men friends, she is a “whore”; if she has women friends, she is a lesbian; if she is close to family, she is tied to apron strings.  The abuser claims that people who are supportive of her are troublemakers and may want to live in the country without a phone, or may not let her use the car, or try to keep her from working or going to school.

6.Blames Others for Problems
: If the abuser is chronically unemployed, it is always someone else’s fault.  The abuser may make mistakes and then blame the woman for being distracting or upsetting.  The woman may be blamed for anything that goes wrong.
7.Blames Others for own Feelings: The abuser will tell the woman “you make me mad,” “you’re hurting me by not doing what I ask,” “I can’t help being angry.”  The abuser will use feelings to manipulate the woman. Harder to recognize are claims such as “you make me happy”.  The message in each case is “you control how I feel”.
8.Hypersensitivity: The abuser is easily insulted and claims that feelings are “hurt” when actually s/he’s really angry, or the abuser interprets the slightest setbacks as personal attacks.  The abuser will “rant and rave” about the injustice of things that have happened – things that are really just part of living like being asked to work overtime, getting a traffic ticket, being told that something he does is annoying, being asked to help with chores.

9.Cruelty to Animals or Children
: The batterer may punish animals brutally or be insensitive to their pain; or may expect children to be capable of doing things far beyond their ability (whips a two year old for wetting their diaper) or may tease young children until they cry. (60% of men who beat their partners, also beat their children). The abuser may refuse to interact with the children by not allowing them to eat at the table or expecting them to stay in their rooms in the evenings.
10.”Playful” Use of Force in Sex : The abuser may like to throw the woman down and hold her during sex, or may want to act out fantasies during sex where the woman is helpless. The idea of rape may excite the abuser. The abuser may show little concern about whether the woman wants to have sex and use sulking or anger to manipulate her into compliance. The abuser may start having sex with the woman while she is sleeping, or demand sex when she is ill or tired.
11.Verbal Abuse:  In addition to saying things that are meant to be cruel and hurtful, the abuser may verbally degrade the woman by cursing her or diminishing her accomplishments.  The abuser may tell her that she’s stupid and unable to function on her own.  This may involve waking her up to verbally abuse her or not letting her sleep.
12.Rigid Sex Roles:  The batterer expects a woman to serve him; and may require that she stay at home, that she obey in all things – even things that are criminal in nature. The abuser sees women as inferior, and unable to be a whole person without a relationship.

13. Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde
:  Many women are confused by their abuser’s sudden change in mood — they will describe the abuser’s behavior as “nice” one minute, but the next minute “explosive” or “crazy”.  Explosiveness and mood swings are typical of batterers and are related to other characteristics such as hypersensitivity.
14.Past Battering:  The batterer may admit to hitting previous partners, but will blame their partner for provoking the attacks. The woman may hear from relatives or ex-spouses of previous abuse. The fact is, a batterer will beat any partner: situational circumstances do not make a person abusive.
15. Threats of Violence: This would include any threat of physical force meant to control the woman. “I’ll slap your mouth off,” “I’ll kill you,” “I’ll break your neck.”  Most intimate partners do not threaten their mates, but a batterer will try to excuse this behavior by saying “everybody talks like that”.
16. Breaking or Striking Objects:  This behavior is used as punishment (breaking loved possessions), but is mostly used to terrorize the woman into submission.  The abuser may beat on tables with fists, throw objects around or near the woman. Again, this is remarkable behavior in that only immature people beat on objects in the presence of other people in order to threaten them.
17. Any Force During an Argument : This may involve a batterer holding a woman down, physically restraining her from leaving the room, or pushing or shoving. (The abuser may hold the woman against a wall and say “you’re going to listen to me”.


The Commission on Domestic Violence


How your abuser can discover your Internet activities.

(a) e-mail: if your abuser has access to your e-mail account, he or she may be able to read your incoming or outgoing mail.  If you believe your account is secure, make sure you choose a password he or she will not be able to guess.  You can have your password changed!

If your abuser sends you threatening or harassing e-mail messages, they may be printed and saved as evidence of this abuse.  Additionally, the messages may constitute a federal offense.  For more information, contact your local United States Attorneys Office.

(b) history / cache file: if your abuser knows how to read your computer’s history or cache file (automatically saved web pages and graphics), he or she may be able to see information you have viewed recently on the Internet.

You can clear your history or empty your cache file in your browser’s settings.

  • Netscape – Pulldown Edit menu, select Preferences.  Click on Navigator and choose ‘Clear History’.  Click on Advanced then Select Cache.  Click on ‘Clear Disk Cache’.
  • Microsoft Explorer – Pulldown View menu, Select Internet Options.  On General Page, under Temporary Internet Files, click on ‘Delete Files’.  Under History click on “Clear History”.
  • AOL – Pulldown Members menu, select Preferences.  Click on WWW icon. Select Advanced.  Select Purge Cache.
    Very Important!
  • Windows 95/98 ReCycle Bin – Right click on Desktop Icon for Trash or ReCycle and Select “Empty ReCycle Bin”.


Information by American Bar Association, 750 N. Lake Shore Dr., Chicago, Ill 60611  312/988-5000

RAPE Myths and Facts (done by Roger Williams University)

Myth: Rape is caused by lust or uncontrollable sexual urges and the need for sexual gratification.

Fact: Rape is an act of physical violence and domination that is not motivated by sexual gratification.

Myth: Once a man gets sexually aroused, he can’t just stop.

Fact: Men do not physically need to have sex after becoming sexually excited. Moreover, they are still able to control themselves after becoming aroused.

Myth: Women often lie about rape or falsely accuse someone of rape.

Fact: Statistical studies indicate false reports make up 2% or less of the reported cases of sexual assault. This figure is approximately the same for other types of crimes. Only 1 out of 10 rapes are actually reported. Rapes by someone the victim knows are the least likely to be reported.

Myth: Women provoke sexual assault by their appearance. Sexual attractiveness is a primary reason why a rapist selects a victim.

Fact: Rapists do not select their victims by their appearance. They select victims who are vulnerable and accessible. Victims of sexual assault range in age groups from infants to the elderly. Sexual attractiveness is not an issue.

Myth: Sexual assault is a topic that only concerns women, and men do not have to be concerned about sexual assault.

Fact: According to recent rape crisis center statistics, men, both straight and gay, suffered 10% of the sexual assaults reported in the US last year. (Almost all were raped by other men.) In addition, men have wives, friends, sisters, mothers, and daughters who may someday need assistance in coping with sexual assault. Rape is a concern for everyone.

Myth: If a woman really did not want to be raped, she could fight off her attacker.

Fact: Even if the rapist is not carrying a weapon, the element of surprise, shock, and fear, or the threat of harm can overpower a survivor.

Facts About Date Rape

Here are some data collected from a national study of college students:

  • 1 in 4 college women have either been raped or suffered attempted rape.
  • 84% of the women who are raped knew their assailants.
  • 57% of the rapes occurred on a date.
  • Women ages 16-24 have 4 times higher risk of being raped than any other population group.
  • 1 in 12 male students surveyed had committed acts that met the legal definition of rape.
  • 16% of male students who had committed rape took part in episodes with more than one attacker’s gang rape.
  • 75% of male students and 55% of female students involved in date rape had been drunk or using drugs.*
  • 33% of males surveyed said that they would commit rape if they could escape detection.**
  • 25% of men surveyed believed that rape was acceptable if: the woman asks the man out; or the man pays for the date; or the woman goes back to the man’s room after the date. ***

* Koss, M.P. (1988). Hidden Rape: Incidence, Prevalence and descriptive Characteristics of Sexual Aggression and Victimization in a National Sample of College Students. In Burgers, A.W. (ed.) Sexual Assault. Vol II. New York: Garland Publishing Co.

** Malamuth, N.M. (1986). Predictors of Natural Sexual Aggression. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 50, 953-962.

*** Muehlenhard, C.L., Friedman, D.E. & Thomas, C.M. (1985). Is Date Rape Justifiable? Psychology of Women Quarterly, 9, 297-310

Facts About Sexual Assault
  • 1 out of 4 women is sexually assaulted at some point in her life.
  • 1 out of 6 men is sexually assaulted at some point in his life.
  • Every 15 seconds a woman is beaten by her husband or boyfriend. (FBI Uniform Crime Report, 1991)
  • 2-4 million women are abused every year. (American Medical Association)
  • 95-98% of victims of domestic violence are women. (Bureau of Statistics)
  • Approximately 25% of all women in the U.S. will be abused by current or former partners some time during their lives. (American Medical Association)
  • 82.8% of sexual assaults occur before the victim reaches the age of 25.
  • 78% of sexual assault victims were assaulted by someone they knew.
  • Up to 57% of rapes happened on a date.
  • Over 66% of sexual assault victims reported NO visible physical injuries.
  • Over 50% of victims and 70% of assailants had used drugs or alcohol prior to the assault..
  • Fewer than 20% of crimes of sexual violence are reported to the police.
  • Approximately 2% of acquaintance rapes are reported to the police.
  • Only 2% of reported sexual assaults have been determined to be false reports.
  • 1 in 8 college women is the victim of rape during her college years. 1 in 4 is the victim of attempted rape.
  • 95% of these rape victims did not report the rape to officials.
  • 25% percent of women were raped and/or physically assaulted by a current or former spouse, partner or date during their lifetime.
  • 84% of the women knew the men who raped them; 57% were on dates.

* Koss, Mary P., and C. Gedycz, and N. Wisniewski. “The Scope of Rape Incidence and Prevalence of Sexual Aggression and Victimization in a National Sample of Higher Education Students.” Journal of Consulting and Clinical psychology. 55(1987), 162-70.

** Thoennes, Nancy, and Tjaden, Patricia. “Prevalence, Incidence, and Consequences of Violence Against Women: Findings of the National Violence Against Women Survey.” U.S. Department of Justice, November 1998.

Date rape drugs:

Gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB)

Slang or Street Names: Grievous Bodily Harm, G, Liquid Ecstasy, Georgia Home Boy

  • GHB can be produced in clear liquid, white powder, tablet, and capsule forms, and it is often used in combination with alcohol, making it even more dangerous. GHB has been increasingly involved in poisonings, overdoses, “ACQUAINTANCE RAPES,” and fatalities.
  • GHB is usually abused either for its intoxicating/sedative/euphoriant properties or for its growth hormone-releasing effects, which can build muscles.
  • Some individuals are synthesizing GHB in home laboratories. Ingredients in GHB, gamma-butyrolactone (GBL) and 1,4-butanediol, can also be converted by the body into GHB. These ingredients are found in a number of dietary supplements available in health food stores and gymnasiums to induce sleep, build muscles, and enhance sexual performance.
  • GHB is a central nervous system depressant that can relax or sedate the body. At higher doses it can slow breathing and heart rate to dangerous levels.
  • GHB’s intoxicating effects begin 10 to 20 minutes after the drug is taken. The effects typically last up to 4 hours, depending on the dosage. At lower doses, GHB can relieve anxiety and produce relaxation; however, as the dose increases, the sedative effects may result in sleep and eventual coma or death.
  • Overdose of GHB can occur rather quickly, and the signs are similar to those of other sedatives: drowsiness, nausea, vomiting, headache, loss of consciousness, loss of reflexes, impaired breathing, and ultimately death.
  • GHB is cleared from the body relatively quickly, so it is sometimes difficult to detect in emergency rooms and other treatment facilities.

Slang or Street Names: Roofies, Rophies, Roche, Forget-me Pill

  • Rohypnol (flunitrazepam) belongs to the class of drugs known as benzodiazepines (such as Valium, Halcion, Xanax, and Versed). It is not approved for prescription use in the United States, although it is approved in Europe and is used in more than 60 countries as a treatment for insomnia, as a sedative, and as a presurgery anesthetic.
  • Rohypnol is tasteless and odorless, and it dissolves easily into carbonated beverages. The sedative and toxic effects of Rohypnol are aggravated by concurrent use of alcohol. Even without alcohol, a dose of Rohypnol as small as 1 mg can impair a victim for 8 to 12 hours.
  • Rohypnol is usually taken orally, although there are reports that it can be ground up and snorted.
  • The drug can cause profound “anterograde amnesia”; that is, individuals may not remember events that they experienced while under the effects of the drug. This may be why one of the street names for Rohypnol is “the forget-me pill” and it has been reportedly used in SEXUAL ASSAULTS.
  • Other adverse effects associated with Rohypnol include decreased blood pressure, drowsiness, visual disturbances, dizziness, confusion, gastrointestinal disturbances, and urinary retention.
Protect Yourself!

Here are some precautions you can take.

  • Don’t accept open drinks (alcoholic or non-alcoholic from others you do not know or trust; this includes drinks that come in a glass.
  • When in bars or clubs always get your drink directly from the bartender and do not take your eyes off the bartender or your order; don’t use the waitress or let somebody go to the bar for you.
  • At parties, only accept drinks in closed containers: bottles, cans, or tetra packs.
  • Never leave your drink unattended or turn your back on your table.
  • Do not drink from open beverage sources like punch bowls, pitchers, tubs or community water/juice bottles.
  • Keep your eyes and ears open; if there is talk of date rape drugs or if friends seem “too intoxicated” for what they have taken, leave the party or club immediately and don’t go back!

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Drug Abuse, 6001 Executive Blvd., Room 5213, MSC 9561, Bethesda, MD 20892-9561 and

[end article]

I hope you’ve enjoyed this article.  I provided a lot of good information.  Please share it with as many women as possible.  If you ever have any questions please call me at 814-368-3725 or e-mail me at

About the Author:


Michael Miller is a self-defense and personal protection expert with intensive training in sexual assault education, violent predators, child abuse, child development and more. He’s been featured several times in Black Belt and Inside Kung-fu magazines and has been educating women and children in awareness and personal protection for over 13 years.  He is available for seminars on an array of topics to better the community.