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Are you safe?
Most women who experience sexual assault feel vulnerable and unsure of themselves. You may also feel conflicted, especially if the offender is a partner or someone you know well. If you have been sexually assaulted, you are not to blame. Your care and safety are now the first priorities.
If you are living in an abusive relationship where sexual assault has happened, creating a Safety Plan is very important. A Safety Plan helps you recognise the signs it might happen again and decide what action you might take to lower risk.
If you are in danger, call 000 immediately. If you have just been assaulted, No means NO has information on what to do next. If you are not in immediate danger and would like to talk, contact the Jewish Taskforce Support Line for confidential information and referrals.
“He is not to be intimate while drunk, nor in the midst of a quarrel; he is not to do so out of hate, nor may he take her by force with her in fear of him”
– Rambam, Laws of Marital Status 15:17
Sexual assault can happen to anyone. Victims are not at fault and there is no foolproof way to prevent unwanted sexual behaviour. What women can do is remain alert, aware of risks and take reasonable precautions to ensure personal safety.
Sexual assault is an opportunistic crime that contravenes all Jewish teaching. Risk can never be completely eliminated, but you may boost personal safety by:
- Be awarestay alert to your surroundings, where you are and who is nearby that might be able to help if a situation gets out of hand.
- Have attitudewalk with confidence and purpose, even if you aren’t sure where you are.
- Face the trafficto see faces clearly, walk against oncoming pedestrian or vehicle traffic.
- When aloneespecially at night, stick to well-lit places and avoid entering isolated locations alone.
- Headphones maximise your awareness of surroundings by not walking around with buds in both ears.
- Trust your instinctsif you feel edgy about a person, place or situation, it’s best to move away.
Most sexual assault is committed by someone known to the victim. Some personal safety tips for enjoying social gatherings include:
- Go together arrange to arrive and leave with family or friends and check on each other during the event.
- Trust your intuition if a person or setting makes you uneasy, especially if you are alone, excuse yourself and leave.
- Alcohol & drugs are contributing factors in many sexual assaults. Statistics show that violence escalates when drugs or alcohol are present.
Coercing someone to sexual activity is assault. This scary situation is not of your making. Some ways to deal with pressure situations include:
- Don’t feel obligated
you are not compelled to do anything you don’t want to. It’s OK to tell the other person “I don’t want to”.
- Send a signal
create a code word/signal to friends or family that will alert others to your discomfort so they can help.
- Have an escape plan
if you are worried about hurting or embarrassing anyone, make an excuse so you can leave. Not feeling well, need to be somewhere, a friend or family member needs you are all good reasons.
- In an emergency
if you are feeling threatened by your partner, follow your Safety Plan or call 000.
Computers are essential to life in the modern world. Lots of people meet or keep in touch over social media. That doesn’t make it safe. Some tips to improving your safety are:
Safety at home
- Try to use a safe computer the person assaulting you does not access.
- Clear the browsing history and cache to avoid putting yourself at risk.
- Edit privacy settings on all social media to secure your personal information.
- Only share photos, especially of children, with friends (not public).
- Never make posts that give information about where you are (eg. coffee shop, airport).
- Disable location services on your smartphone camera and digital camera.
- Remember people you meet online may not be who they say they are.
- If you arrange to meet, choose a public where you can leave quickly and easily.
Today, Sexual Abuse and its effects on children are discussed more openly. Even so, parents have no guaranteed way of de-risking children’s lives. Some ways to help curb danger are:
- Be part of children’s lives by attending activities and knowing the adults they interact with.
- Discuss media, TV, computer games with children and help them to recognise sexual violence and to get help if they’re being exposed to sexual violence or pornography.
- Be approachable and, even if it’s embarrassing, open and honest when discussing sex.
- Talk to children in age-appropriate language about their body, privacy and ways of touching.
- Tell children who is or isn’t allowed to touch them in private places (eg. doctor under parental supervision).
- Discuss others asking to be touched and help children understand it’s not OK.
- Empower children to say “NO” to unwanted touching.
- Teach children that not all secrets are good secrets. It’s OK to tell.
- Make children aware that not everyone has learned to listen when they say “NO”. It’s OK to tell.
- Let children know they can come to you if someone touches them inappropriately. It’s OK to tell.
- Encourage children to say if they’ve been asked to look at or touch someone else’s private parts. It’s OK to tell.
If you feel unsure or insecure about your personal safety or are at risk of sexual assault, call 000 or the Sexual Assault Crisis Line.
If you are not in immediate danger, contact Jewish Taskforce Against Family Violence can help. Our confidential Support Line is staffed by trained responders who can provide information and referrals. Or simply be the supportive friend who hears and believes your story.