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Stand up against sexual assault … make a difference

MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- Perpetrators of sexual assault wait for vulnerability. Many people have been trained to anticipate danger and be "on-guard" when out at night, walking to their cars, or going to a new city or area with which they are not familiar. However, 40 percent of all sexual assaults occur in the victim's home, and 20 percent occur in the home of a friend, relative or neighbor. This is where people are not "on-guard" or prepared for an attack. This is where people don't expect danger to be present.

Nothing can prevent sexual assault 100 percent other than the criminal not choosing to break the law, but there are steps that folks can all take to reduce their risk and help safe guard those around them. The following tips can help people become more prepared, alert and assertive.
· People should trust in their instincts. If a place or person feels unsafe, it probably is.
· It's a good idea to stay in groups as there is safety in numbers.
· Plan outings and have back-up plans.
· Don't take drinks from strangers.
· Don't take cigarettes strangers; cigarettes are now being laced with "club drugs".
· Stay sober. Studies indicate more than half of all sexual assaults involve alcohol use by the offender, victim or both.
· People who feel they are in danger should attract attention to themselves in any way they can.
· Keep the home and dorm room doors locked.
· "No means no." People who don't want to be intimate, should state their feelings clearly.
· Match body language to word. Don't laugh and smile while saying no.
· People shouldn't go anywhere alone with someone unless they know the person very well and trust him or her.
· Watch for these "red flags" when getting to know someone:
o People who are personal space invaders, for example, practical strangers who are "touchy feely" or try to land a kiss.
o Someone who drinks too much or uses drugs and tries to convince others to use drugs or alcohol.
o A person who makes persistent, repeated attempts to be alone with another person before getting to know them.
o Someone who gets angry or sulks if he/she does not get what she/he wants.
o People who pressure others to have sex, or try to make others feel guilty for saying 'no'.
o Someone who makes demeaning comments or remarks about the opposite sex.

Through being prepared, alert and assertive people have the ability to decrease their vulnerability and help protect them and those around them. Stand up against sexual assault, and help make a difference!

Information courtesy of http://www.sexualassault.army.mil/ and http://www.sapr.mil/.