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Sexual Assault and Rape

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Terms and Concepts in Sexual Assault continued...

In general, it is best not to plan on engaging in any sexual activity if the use of intoxicants is planned, particularly if the relationship with that person is not well established.

Communicating consent or nonconsent

When you begin to be sexually intimate, both parties should be careful to get the consent of the other party. If you are the one to start the contact, you must be sensitive to the acceptance or nonacceptance of any sexual advances. If someone is making advances toward you, you must give clear signals of your feelings at any and all stages of the intimacy. If you change your mind during intimacy and want to stop, you should clearly state it, and the other party must stop immediately.

Resistance to sexual assault

You should attempt to resist sexual assault both verbally and physically. Clearly stating "no," "stop," or other demonstrative words that indicate that you want the intimacy to stop is an important behavior to deter inappropriate advances and clearly demonstrate your feelings. When these words are clearly said, yet ignored, these statements are helpful in proving that an assault took place.

Frequently, if you have your wits about you in these stressful situations, you can use psychological tactics, persuasive conversation, or physically attempt to extricate yourself from a dangerous situation. Physical resistance can be effective in the absence of weapons, particularly in date rape or spousal rape situations. Physical resistance can make certain sexual acts more difficult or even impossible to complete and clearly communicates nonconsent beyond any doubt.

Under other circumstances, however, resisting sexual assault can be more dangerous than the assault itself. With the use of weapons or brutal force, resistance is likely to lead to a greater number of injuries, more serious injuries, and possibly death. Some victims correctly elect to submit. This does not in any way imply consent nor change the nature of the sexual assault.

No reaction under these frightening and unfamiliar circumstances is incorrect. Resist as far as you are able, and then use survival tactics. Surviving an assault is the most important thing. Most victims will recover from any physical injuries related to a sexual assault without physical problems, and most sexually related medical problems can be managed without long-term consequences.

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