Sexual assault — prevention

A sexual assault is any type of sexual activity or contact that occurs without your consent. This includes rape (forced penetration) and unwanted sexual touching.

A sexual assault is always the fault of the perpetrator (the person who commits the assault). It is not only up to the woman to prevent it. Prevention of sexual abuse is the responsibility of everyone in the community. 

You can take steps to stay safe while enjoying an active and social life. The key is to learn more about the issue and follow practical tips to protect yourself and your friends.


According to health experts, we all have a role to play in helping to prevent sexual assault. We should all take action against sexual violence in the community.  

report. If you hear someone downplaying or condoning sexual violence, please report it. If you see someone being harassed or assaulted, call the police immediately.

Help create a safe work or school environment. Ask about school or workplace programs that address abuse or assault. Learn where to go to report harassment or violence against yourself or others.

Offer support. If you know of a friend or family member who is in an abusive relationship, offer her support from her. Put them in touch with a local organization that can help.

Educate your children. Tell your children that they can decide who can touch them and where even family members are. Let them know that they can always come to you if someone touches them inappropriately. Teach children to respect others and to treat other people as they would like to be treated.

Teach teens about consent. Make sure every teen understands that any sexual contact or activity must be freely, voluntarily, and clearly agreed upon by both parties. Do it before you start dating. What is sexual assault? What should you do if you experience sexual assault or harassment?


Bystander intervention involves safely stepping in and taking action when someone is observed to be at risk of sexual assault. RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) has these 4 steps on how to help someone at risk while protecting her own safety.

Create a distraction. This can be as simple as interrupting a conversation or offering food and drinks at a party.

Ask directly. Ask the person at risk if they are in trouble and need help.

Go to an authority. It may be safer to talk to an authority figure who can help. Seek help from a security guard. bar bouncer, clerk, or registration authority. If necessary, call 911 or the local emergency number.

Recruit other people. You do not have and probably should not take action alone. Have a friend go with you to ask if the person is OK. Or ask someone else to step in if you think this person could do it more safely. Approach the friends of the person at risk to see if they can help.


It is not possible to completely protect yourself from sexual assault. However, it is important to know what steps you can take to help keep yourself safe.

When she goes out alone: 

  • Trust your instincts. If something doesn’t seem right, try to get out of that situation. It’s OK to lie or make excuses if it helps them walk away.
  • Avoid being alone with people you don’t know or trust.  
  • Be aware of where you are and what is around you. When you go out, please do not cover the two ears with music headphones.
  • Keep your cell phone charged and with you. If necessary, make sure you have cash or credit cards to pay for a taxi home.
  • Avoid abandoned areas.
  • Try to appear strong, confident, aware, and sure of your surroundings.

At parties or in other social situations, here are some common-sense steps you can take:

  • Go with a group of friends, if possible, or keep in touch with someone you meet at the party. Take care of each other and don’t leave anyone alone during the party.
  • Avoid drinking too much. Know your limits and monitor how much you are consuming. Open your own drinks. Do not accept drinks from someone you do not know and keep your drink or beverage close to you. Someone can add drugs to your drink and you may not even notice, since you can’t smell or taste drinks that contain the date rape drug.
  • If you think you have been drugged, tell a friend, leave the party, or remove yourself from the situation and get help immediately.
  • Don’t go anywhere alone or leave a party with someone you don’t know or feel uncomfortable with.
  • Get to know someone well before spending some alone time together. Go on first dates in public places.
  • If you’re with someone you know and your instincts tell you something isn’t right, trust them and walk away from the person.
  • Avoid taking shared transportation alone.

If you are in a situation where you are being pressured into sexual activities that you do not want, steps you can take include:

  • State clearly what you do not want to do. Remember that you do not have to do something that you are not comfortable with.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and how you might escape, if necessary.
  • Create a special key code, word, or sentence that you can use with a friend or family member. You can call them and tell them if you are being pressured into having unwanted sex.
  • If you need to, come up with a reason why you have to go out.

You may want to consider taking a self-defense class. This can build your self-confidence and give you useful skills and strategies for different situations.