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Rape prevention

Rape is defined as a sexual act forced on a person against his or her will. The most useful tool to prevent rape is to be more aware of the issue. Always trust your instincts if you are somewhere or with someone that does not feel safe and comfortable.

Alternative Names

Date rape - prevention; Sexual assault - prevention

Information

The following safety tips may help reduce your chances of being raped:

  • Carry items that you can use if you need to call attention to your situation (such as whistles and personal alarms).
  • Consider taking a self-defense class. This may can give you self-confidence and provide useful skills and strategies for different situations.
  • Do not hitchhike. If your vehicle breaks down and someone offers to give you a ride, ask the person to call for help while you stay locked in your vehicle.
  • If someone tries to assault you, scream loudly or blow a whistle.
  • If you are walking or jogging, stay out of secluded or isolated areas. Arrange to do the activity with at least one other friend, rather than alone. It is best to do these kinds of activities during daylight hours.
  • Keep car doors locked while driving, check the back of your car for intruders before getting in, and park in open, well-lit areas.
  • Keep doors and windows of your home locked.
  • On public transportation, sit near the driver or up front if possible. Avoid sitting near groups of young men who are out together.

When out by yourself:

  • Avoid getting isolated with people you do not know or do not trust.
  • Be aware of where you are and what is around you. Do not cover both of your ears with music headphones.
  • Keep your cell phone charged and with you.
  • Stay away from deserted areas.
  • Try to appear strong, confident, aware, and secure in your surroundings.

At parties or in other social situations, take the following steps:

  • Go with a group of friends, if possible, or keep in contact with someone you know during the party.
  • Avoid drinking too much. Do not accept drinks from someone you do not know, and keep your drink or beverage close to you.
  • Do not go somewhere alone or leave a party with someone you do not know or feel comfortable with.

If you find yourself in a situation where you are being pressured into sexual activities you do not want, things you can do include:

  • State clearly what you do not want to do. Remember, you do not need to feel any obligation to do something you are not comfortable doing.
  • Remain aware of your surroundings and how you can get away.
  • Have a special codeword with a friend or family member that you can say if you call them during a situation in which you are being pressured into unwanted sex.
  • If you need to, make up a reason why you need to leave.

RESOURCES

Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network - www.rainn.org

References

Cowley D, Lentz GM. Emotional aspects of gynecology. In: Lentz GM, Lobo RA, Gershenson DM, Katz VL, eds. Comprehensive Gynecology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Mosby Elsevier; 2012:chap 9.

Linden JA. Care of the adult patient after sexual assault. N Engl J Med. 2011;365:834-841.

Sachs CJ, Wheeler M. Examination of the Sexual Assault Victim. In: Marx JA, Hockberger RS, Walls RM, et al, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Mosby Elsevier; 2013:chap 58.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Sexual assault and STDs. In: Sexually transmitted diseases treatment guidelines, 2010. MMWR Recomm Rep. 2010;17(59)(RR-12):90-95.

Updated: 3/11/2014

Susan Storck, MD, FACOG, Chief, Eastside Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Bellevue, WA; Clinical Teaching Faculty, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.


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