In January 2013 government statistics showed that an estimated 85,000 women are raped on an average in England and Wales every year! Over 400,000 women are sexually assaulted annually! One of the most shocking statistics is that 1 in 5 women (aged 16-59) has experienced some form of sexual violence in their lifetime.
One reason women and girls seems to be reluctant to tell the authorities, or anyone about their experiences is the fear of being not believed, as well as fears of shame or self-blame. In 2011 28% of women who are victims of the most serious sexual offences never tell anyone about it, and statistics from the Rape Crisis movement show that only around 15% of women and girls who experience sexual violence ever report to the police.
Many people find rape and other forms of sexual violence difficult to talk about, however, if we don’t acknowledge these issues then they become a whirl wind of myths and misinformation. In today’s society the aim is to create a wide environment in which women and girls who are affected can feel safe and confident to seek the support and justice they so deserve.
So what is Rape?
Rape is a very serious crime and it is one that can often get misinterpreted. The legal definition of Rape can be found on Gov’s website
(1) A person (A) commits an offence if—
(a) He intentionally penetrates the vagina, anus or mouth of another person (B) with his penis,
(b)B does not consent to the penetration, and
(c)A does not reasonably believe that B consents.
What about Sexual Assault?
This is a crime that can be committed by both men and women against other men or women. Again there are different types of sexual assault, but in case you are unsure here is a list of the correct legislation from Gov:
(1)A person (A) commits an offence if—
(a) He intentionally touches another person (B),
(b) (b) The touching is sexual,
(c) B does not consent to the touching, and
(d) A does not reasonably believe that B consents.
Sexual assault can range dramatically from sexual acts against a persona wishes to bottom pinching. The important bit to remember is that being pressurised or forced to have sex when you don’t want to is a crime.
Individual women will react differently after sexual assault or rape, there are no rigid rules. Whatever you are feeling, it is important to try to keep your choices open as to what you might want to do as time progresses. You may not feel that you want to report the incident to the Police, but you may change your mind later and it is vital that all evidence has not been destroyed by that point. Talk it over with someone confidentially, but in the meantime, keep your options open.
Reducing the Risk
Rape is a crime that occurs because of the offender’s predatory behaviour, and you can never protect yourself one hundred percent from becoming a target, however, there are things that everyone can do to ensure that her day-to-day behaviour isn’t putting her at a higher risk. Here are some things your can implement in your home:
- Firstly, consistency is something that a predator likes, for example if you walk to work, occasionally vary the path (only stick to general footpaths, public areas and places you know well). This means that a predator cannot always predict what time you will get home.
- It is important to protect your home from an invasion, things as simple as locking all of your windows and doors (remember any roof windows, garages and side doors!). I know this sounds obvious, but predators may be scouting your home for any doors/windows that you leave unlocked on a regular basis.
- Windows are crucial – when going to sleep at night it’s important to make sure that all of your windows are coved by curtains/blinds so the predator doesn’t know you are sleeping alone or whereabouts in the house you sleep.
- Escape route – Try and identify a few, do you have multi entrances to your home? To your bedroom? If someone were to enter your bedroom are you right near the door or do you have a escape route in a different direction? Do you have an en-suite you can run into and lock the door?
- Always keep a can of pepper spray either under your bed, in your top draw of your bedside table – somewhere that you can reach! If someone does enter your bedroom, ensure they are close enough for you to hit the pepper spray with, it could save your life.
Some criminal predators watch their prey for days before striking and the more stable your outdoor routine, the easier it is for them to attack. Other predators read you quickly, they are erratic and unpredictable.
Victims often say, “I never saw him coming.”
- When walking home or to your door, always keep your head up, look alert – anyone who walks past you, make eye contact!
- If you know you have a long walk home or are going somewhere alone, carry that small can of pepper spray in your pocket just in case.
- Walk with confidence – head up, shoulder straight, send out a ‘Don’t mess with me’ attitude and you’ll be less likely to target.
Most of all – If at any point you don’t feel safe, phone someone to tell them where you are and have them stay on the phone to you until you get home.
If you feel like you have been affected by any of the issues that has been raised in this article then do not hesitate to give any of these numbers a call, even if you just want to talk to someone, help for abused women is here.
The Rape Centre (line is answered during office hours which are 9am – 4.30pm, Monday – Friday on 01925 221 546)
Rape & Sexual Abuse Support Centre (National Free Helpline for men/women/family members) open every day 12-2.30 and 7-9.30pm on 0808 802 9999
Samaritans (24hr emotional support line): 08457 90 90 90
Child Line (24hr emotional support line for people 18 years and under): 0800 11 11
National Association for People Abused in Childhood (helpline weekdays and evenings): 0800 085 3330
Survivors UK (Helpline for male survivors of rape/sexual abuse open 7pm-10pm Mon/Tue/Thu): 0845 122 1201