Voices Against Violence
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Q: What is sexual violence?

A: Sexual violence is any activity a person is forced to participate in, either though violence or manipulation. Sexual assault is sexual only in method. It is an act of aggression to attack, humiliate, dominate, or use another person. Sexual violence includes stranger rape, marital rape, acquaintance rape, incest, unwanted sexual touching/exposure, same-sex assault, sexual exploitation, dating violence, stalking and sexual harassment.

Q: What is rape? Is rape about sex?

A: The legal definition in Maryland for rape is the act of nonconsensual vaginal intercourse through the use of force or threat of force. Rape is not about sex. It is an act of violence, committed due to the rapist's desire to physically overpower the victim by using manipulation or force.

Q: Can a guy be raped? If a guy is raped, does that mean he is gay?

A: Anyone, of any sex and any age can be raped. We hear far more about female victims because it happens more often. However, guys too are raped. A male rape will not make a guy gay. Rape does not change your sexual orientation.

Q: What is consent?

A: Consent is freely and voluntarily agreeing to do something.

Q: What is force?

A: Force is the aggressive use of power physically, emotionally, or mentally to make someone do something they do not want to do.

Q: What are date rape drugs?

A: Alcohol, or any drug used recreationally can be potential "date rape" drugs. These drugs are used to put a victim into a helpless state so as to take advantage of the victim. Common examples of date rape drugs are alcohol, GHB, Rohypnol, Ecstasy, and Ketamine.

Q: What is the rapist profile?

A: A rapist can be anyone - male, female, young, old, any race, any religion, any sexual orientation, and from any socioeconomic class.

Q: Someone I know is in an abusive relationship. Where can this person go for help?

A: A number of resources are available. Nationally, there is the National Domestic Violence Hotline, 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY). This line can help connect those seeking help to local services.

For the UMBC campus, the VAV staff at University Health Services, the Women's Center, the Counseling Center, or the UMBC Campus Police are all available to assist those in need.

Q: Why do victims stay with their abusers? Is the abuse the victim's fault?

A: Victims stay with abusers for many reasons, including financial dependency, emotional isolation, guilt, low self-esteem, lack of better options, fear, or even an inability to see the difference between a loving relationship and an abusive one. Abuse is never the victims fault. There is no excuse for relationship violence, and common blaming tactics the abuser uses such as "he/she started it," "he/she hit me first," etc, are not acceptable excuses for violence.

Q: I want to get out of an abusive relationship. What should I do? What's a good safety plan?

A: Here are some tips on creating a good safety plan. However, do consider calling a hotline or talking to a friend or counselor as well.

1) Look out for the warning signs before an assault (taking drugs, bad day at work, pay day, physical signs like clenched fists, etc). Try to leave before abuse happens.

2) If there are weapons in your home, see if you can lock them up, lose the ammunition, etc.

3) Perhaps figure out a way to signal to your neighbors or hall mates to call 911 if necessary.

4) Consider staying with friends or family when tension builds if you share a home with your partner.

5) Make preparations in case you must leave home. This would include taking money out of your bank account to put aside as well as keeping important documents easily accessible. Important documents include student ID card, driver's license, credit cards, passport, green card, social security card, keys, financial information, and prescription cards and information.

6) Reach out for help - enlist your friends and family to build a support network.

VAV Staff can provide you with a comprehensive Safety Plan specifically for UMBC students or you can pick one up in the Health Education office in Erickson.

Q: I know someone who has been sexually assaulted/raped. What should I say to this person? Where can this person get help?

A: First and foremost, rape is never the victims fault. Assure the victim of this and let him/her know that help is available and that they are not alone.

Remain calm. It is common for you to feel shock and rage, but expressing these emotions to the victim may cause her/him more trauma.

Encourage medical attention. Services at the emergency room or from a private physician are important because there may be internal injuries that are not apparent. Additionally, a medical exam can help provide evidence should the victim decide to prosecute. These decisions should however, be made by the victim.

Give the victim control. All control has been stripped from a victim of sexual violence. Allow the victim to make decisions about what steps to take next. Do not tell the victim what to do.

Maintain confidentiality. Let the victim decide who will know about his/her experience. It is not your place to tell people.

Let the victim express feelings. Allow the victim to cry, scream, yell, etc. Remember the victim is venting emotions toward the perpetrator and the situation - not you.

Listen to the victim. Do not add your opinions. If the victim wishes to remain silent, do not force a discussion. Say you will be there to listen always.

Help the victim reach the resources available in your area. The Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network (RAINN) hotline, 1-800-656-HOPE (4672) will automatically transfer calls to the nearest rape crisis center in the area, anywhere in the United States.

For the UMBC community, VAV Staff, the Counseling Center, or the UMBC Campus Police are also sources available for help. Check this website for resources.

Q: How common are sexual violence incidents? In the U.S. as a whole? On campuses in general?

A: Sexual Assault

* A woman is most likely to experience an assault during her first two months of college.

* Every 21 hours on each college campus in the U.S. there is a rape.

* In a national study of college students, 27.5% of the women surveyed said that they had suffered rape or attempted rape at least once since age 14. Only 5% of those experiences were reported to the police.

* In a 1988 study, 84% of college men identified as having committed rape said what they did was definitely not rape.

Relationship Violence

* Women age 16-24 experience the highest per capita rates of intimate violence.

* Somewhere in America a woman is battered, usually by her intimate partner, every 15 seconds.

* An estimated 4 million American women are physically abused by their spouses or live-in partners each year.

* Another estimated 1.9 million American women are physically assaulted each year.

* One out of every four women seeking care in emergency rooms has injuries resulting from domestic violence.

* Between July 1, 2000 and June 30, 2001, 68 people died as a result of domestic violence in the state of Maryland.


* Approximately 1 million women are stalked annually in the United States.

* A woman is 3 times more likely to be stalked than raped.

* Four in five college stalking victims know their offender. Of known stalkers, 42.5% were boyfriends or former boyfriends, 24.5% classmates, 10.3% were acquaintances, 5.6% friends, and 5.6% co-workers.

* The most common forms of stalking of college women were being unwantedly contacted by telephone (77.7%); having an offender waiting outside or inside buildings (47.9%); being watched from afar (44%); being followed (42%); being sent letters (30.7%); and being e-mailed (24.7%).

* 3 in 10 women reported being injured emotionally or psychologically from being stalked.

The sources of these statistics can be found on the www.usdoj.gov website and other resources. For further assistance on finding the original source of these statistics, please visit the Health Ed office in Erickson Hall, Ground floor.