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Rape prevention

Rape is defined as sexual intercourse forced on a person without his or her permission. The most useful rape prevention tool available is to be more aware about rape. 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 can call attention to you if needed (such as whistles and personal alarms).
  • Consider taking a self-defense class, which 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 and 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 locked.
  • On public transportation, sit near the driver or up front if possible. Avoid sitting near groups of young men who are obviously with one another.

When out by yourself:

  • Avoid becoming 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 uncomfortable with.

Through no fault of your own, you may find yourself in situations where you are being pressured into sexual activities you do not want. Some things you may try include:

  • State clearly what you do not want to do, remembering that you do not need to feel any obligation to do something you are not comfortable with.
  • Remain aware of your surroundings and how you could 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

Lentz GM. Rape, incest, and domestic violence: Discovery, management, counseling. In: Katz VL, Lentz GM, Lobo RA, Gershenson DM, eds. Comprehensive Gynecology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier;2007:chap 10.

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

Slaughter L. Sexual assault. In: Marx JA, ed. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2009:chap 64.

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: 2/26/2012

Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington. Susan Storck, MD, FACOG, Chief, Eastside Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Bellevue, Washington; Clinical Teaching Faculty, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.


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