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2012-05-31

One in six US women are rape victims

By Carolyn B. Edwards BCC Staff Writer

Despite the flagrant depiction of sex on TV, in the movies and on the Internet, today's teenagers still get the giggles when the subject gets discussed. But the giggles soon turned to serious attention during a recent seminar on sexual assault presented by the Bandera County Sheriff's Office to Bandera High School seniors heading to college.

BCSO Deputy Matt Johnson and Dispatcher Amber Chupp shared some hair-raising statistics with a large group of seniors.

Here are some of them:

• One in six US women are rape victims.

• 19,000 men are raped each year.

• 35 percent of college men surveyed said they would rape a woman if they could get away with it.

• 70 percent of college women who are raped know their assailant.

• A rape occurs in the US every 6.2 minutes.

• Women 16-24 years of age are most at risk.

Johnson and Chupp said that rape is known as the silent crime because only one in 50 women report being raped and almost no men report being raped. "That's because it becomes an ego thing, and the fear that there will be an assumption of homosexuality," said Johnson. Many women think that the assault is a private matter, or "they fear reprisal from the assailant."

"Don't be a victim," urged both officers. "Be a survivor."

Sexual assault is not a sexual act, said Johnson, "it's a violent crime."

Johnson offered the college bound some sound practical advice to decrease their odds of being raped.

"If you're going to a party, have someone you trust with you, and use a designated driver," he advised.

"Don't accept a drink from anyone you don't know or barely know. Get your own drinks. If you set your drink down for a few moments, get a new one," he said. "It's too easy for someone to slip a drug into your drink."

He also added, "If you drink, know your limits. Don't drink yourself into trouble."

Johnson, who worked two years on a college police department, said, "I was shocked at how many put themselves in a dangerous situation by over-drinking. When you get drunk, you open yourself up to sexual assault."

Nevertheless, both Johnson and Chupp continually emphasized, if someone is assaulted, "It's not your fault!"
and "No means no!"

Both urged the students to practice being aware "of where you are and who is around you at all times." Johnson said he sees too many young people walking along with both ears blocked by their iPod ear buds, or walking, head down, texting on their phones. "They are not being aware."

"Walk with your head up and make eye contact with everyone you meet," advised Chupp. "Look confident."

Johnson also reminded the students to pay attention to their internal warning systems. "If you sense something is wrong, it probably is.

Get yourself out of there!"

If necessary, use the Stun and Run technique. "There are two places you can hit a man and it will disable him long enough for you to run away," said Johnson. "Hit him hard on the Adam's apple, and we all know where the second place is."

Although the seminar was aimed at students heading off to college, the presenters reminded the audience that many victims of sexual assault are children. "For every child victim that speaks up, there are believed to be as many as 30 to 60 additional victims for each predator," said Chupp.

All sexual assault victims need to remember that "your body is yours, and you don't ever have to stay silent," she added.

A victim of sexual assault, female or male, should do the following:

• Get to a safe place

• Do not clean up in any way - you could destroy evidence

• Get medical attention as soon as possible

• Call 911

• Request a female officer, if you are female

• Ask a trusted friend to go with you to the examination room

• If you wish, you can refuse to have evidence collected

• Get an attorney to represent you. The prosecuting attorney has a different agenda

• Sue the perpetrator in civil court for money

• Recognize that healing takes time

• Take advantage of professional help for therapy.

Online resources include www.rapecrisis.com;
www.aftersilence.org;
www.rainn.org.

The San Antonio Rape Crisis Center operates a 24-hour hotline at 210-349-7273.

Recommended books include Beauty Bites Beast: Awakening the Warrior Within Women and Girls by Ellen B. Snortland: and The Gift of Fear and Other Survival Signals that Protect Us From Violence by Gavin de Becker.

Johnson and Chupp encouraged the students to be good Samaritans to possible victims in the future. "If you see someone in trouble from drinking, or showing signs of alcohol poisoning, call 911," said Johnson. "If you see some guy attempting to take advantage of a woman, man up!"

Survivors of sexual assault often face years of recovery from the trauma. As Margaret Thatcher said, "You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it."

"But they do survive," said Chupp.

As another survivor said, "The best revenge on your assailant is to live a good life."


Pictured: BCSO's Amber Chupp and Matt Johnson