Sexual Assault and Rape

Sexual assault is a crime punishable by imprisonment in New York State. Sexual assault does not happen because of uncontrolled lust or sexual passion. Sexual assault is a crime of aggression and violence. There is never an excuse or a reason for one person to rape, assault, or even touch another person without permission. No one has this “right” no matter how someone else behaves or dresses. No woman causes herself to be raped.

What Is Sexual Assault?

Sexual assault spans a range of acts, from obscene phone calls to forced sexual intercourse. It includes:

  • any sexual act committed or attempted against a person’s will;
  • forced sexual contact by dates, spouses, family members, acquaintances, or strangers; and
  • any sexual contact you don ‘t want.

What Is Rape?

Rape is defined as sexual intercourse, sodomy, or oral copulation accomplished against a person’s will:

  • through use of force or fear,
  • whether the person is male or female,
  • when the person is prevented from resisting by alcohol or drugs administered by or with the knowledge of the offender, or
  • when the person is unaware of the nature of the act.

What Are the Two Kinds of Rape?

Most people think of rape as a sudden attack perpetrated by a vicious stranger on a dark, deserted street. This is one form of rape. In fact, however, as much as 80% of all rapes are perpetrated by dates, colleagues, or other acquaintances. This is called date or acquaintance rape. Research shows that women in college are in much greater danger of date rape than assault by a stranger.

Preventing date rape is very different from preventing stranger rape.

Preventing Date Rape

There are a variety of ways you can prevent date rape. The most important is to talk clearly about sexual expectations with your date. Make it clear before you get into a sexual situation what your limits are. If you mean no, say it clearly and firmly.

You should also take the following measures:

  • Do not go to a secluded place with someone you’ve just met or don’t know well. Rather, suggest meeting at public places.
  • Drive your own car, use public transportation, or carry enough money for a taxi.
  • Do not go to your date’s apartment or invite him or her to yours if you are just getting to know him. Date rape occurs most often in the rapist’s home.
  • Beware of attitudes in someone whom you are thinking of dating that could signal the potential for sexual violence: hostility toward men or women, a domineering personality, jealousy, condescending or judgmental viewpoints about men or women, or unrealistic expectations.
  • Do not rely on a charming, pleasant presentation in someone you’ve just met. Many date rape victims report that their assailant seemed “like a really nice person” at first. Get to know someone before you place your trust in him or her.
  • Beware of the impact of alcohol and other drugs on your judgment and that of your date. These drugs often play a role in sexual assault.

Preventing Stranger Rape

Everyone is susceptible to random acts of violence, but there are steps you can take to minimize the risk, such as:

  • Be alert and aware of your surroundings, both inside and outside. Notice people, the lighting, and access to phones and exits.
  • Use elevators, stairs, and restrooms in well-trafficked areas.
  • Do not study alone in an empty classroom.
  • Avoid deserted parking lots, empty laundry rooms, and other poorly lit or poorly populated locations.
  • When riding the subways during less traveled times of day, ride in the middle car with the conductor or the first car with the engineer.
  • Learn to be willing to make a scene by speaking up or drawing attention to yourself if you feel threatened, frightened, or uncomfortable.
  • Listen to and act upon your gut feelings and instincts.
  • When possible, walk with a friend instead of walking alone in secluded areas or at night.
  • Always keep your apartment door and your car doors locked. If you live in an apartment with a fire escape outside a back window, you must secure the window with a fire department-approved gate, an alarm, or a barrier system. A window lock is not enough. Always close your blinds, shades, or curtains at night.
  • Check identification of strangers before opening your apartment door.
  • If anything makes you uncomfortable, run to an open office, store, etc.
  • If you are on the Brooklyn College campus, you may call the Office of Campus and Community Safety Services for an escort.

Brooklyn. All in.