If you are a victim/survivor or the significant other of a victim/survivor, contact your local sexual violence center for free and confidential crisis counseling and intervention. Available 24 hours a day. In addition to crisis counseling, your local sexual violence center provides: individual and support counseling; hospital, court and police accompaniment; prevention education within schools and the community; and information and referral services.
Where to Find Help:
Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR)
(888) 772-PCAR (Toll free call)
PCAR is a non-profit organization working at the state and national levels to prevent sexual violence. Founded in 1975, PCAR continues to use its voice to challenge public attitudes, raise public awareness, and effect critical changes in public policy, protocols, and responses to sexual violence. To provide quality services to victims/survivors of sexual violence and their significant others, PCAR works in concert with its statewide network of 52 sexual violence centers serving all 67 counties. The centers also work to create public awareness and prevention education within their communities.
What is sexual violence?
Sexual violence violates a person’s trust and feeling of safety. It occurs any time a person is forced, coerced, and/or manipulated into unwanted sexual activity. The continuum of sexual violence includes rape, incest, child sexual assault, ritual abuse, date and acquaintance rape, statutory rape, marital or partner rape, sexual exploitation, sexual contact, sexual harassment, exposure, and voyeurism. It is estimated that one out of every four girls and one out of every six boys will be sexually assaulted before their 18th birthday.
How can I reduce my risk?
Although sexual violence can never be prevented and is never the victim’s fault, here are some ways to reduce your risk of being assaulted:
- Trust your gut. If you do not feel comfortable in a situation, leave.
- Be in charge of your own life. Do not put yourself in a situation where you have to rely on other people to take care of you. Also, when on a date, do not feel you “owe” that person anything.
- Be cautious inviting someone into your home or going to someone else’s home. Three out of five sexual assaults occur in the victim’s home or the home of an acquaintance.
- Do not mix sexual decisions with drugs and alcohol. Your ability to make smart decision is hampered when you are high or drunk.
- When going out with someone new, do not feel you have to go alone. Go on a group date or meet in a public place.
- Be aware of date rape drugs. Do not accept beverages from open containers and do not leave your drink unattended.
- Walk near the curb. Avoid passing close to shrubbery, dark doorways, or other places of concealment.
- Avoid falling for lines such as “If you loved me….” If your partner loved you, he/she would respect your feelings and wait until you are ready.
- Communicate. Think about what you really want before you get into a sexual situation, and communicate clearly with your partner. If you think you are getting mixed messages, ask your date what he/she wants.
- Be assertive. Respect yourself enough not to do anything you don’t want to do. Your opinions matter, and when you say “no,” your date should stop.
- Use only well-lit entrances. If you notice an entrance without appropriate lighting, notify your landlord or a maintenance person.
- Avoid individuals who:
- Do not listen to you or ignore personal space boundaries
- Make you feel guilty or accuse you of being “uptight” for resisting sexual advances
- Express sexist attitudes and jokes or act jealous or possessive
How can I help end sexual violence?
- Always believe victims of sexual violence.
- Volunteer your time at your local sexual violence center.
- Send hand-written letters to your local, state and federal legislators. Ask them to support legislation that extends the statute of limitations on sexual assault cases, provides funding to test all rape evidence kits, and allocates money to sexual violence services.
- Confront people who tell sexist jokes and make sexist comments, and tell them that those attitudes lead to sexual violence. (Yes, men can do this, too!)
- Teach the children in your life to have respect for others and for their choices. Explain to them what sexual violence is and the various ways it occurs. Call 1-888-772-PCAR for a free CD and magazine to help facilitate the discussion.
- Encourage your school district’s teachers, principals, and school board members to include sexual violence prevention education in school. (Your local sexual violence center can provide this education for free)