Sexual Violence Defined: Part Two

The first post in this series defined what actions are defined as sexual violence under law. Click here for a read-through. But now that we know what sexual violence is, what do we do about it?

People who are unfamiliar with sexual violence always offer the Nike solution. “Just do it,” they say. “Just report them,” or “Just go to the police,” or “Just leave.”

But most people fail to realize that the majority of sexual violence occurs domestically, within a family. The puts the victim in a difficult – almost impossible – situation. Even if there is no emotional attachment, the abuser usually holds power over the victim. This power may be financial resources, blackmail, emotional support, physical strength, or even children.

Often, it’s hard to get any sort of help – even medical. The abuser is often intensely obsessive and controlling, monitoring the victim’s interactions with others. Phone and internet use is also closely watched. We’ll discuss the psychological, physical, and social consequences of abuse in the next post. This post focuses on taking action.

So what should you do?

    • Memorize important information. That friend who promised to help if things get bad? Memorize her number. The number for the local police? Memorize it. Your own social security number? Memorize. The number for the local women’s shelter? Memorize. The more information your store in your mind, the more control you take back from the abuser.
    • Talk to someone you trust. They can help with resources, advice, and a safe haven. It’s critical to have a listening ear, because isolation is one of the main reasons people remain in abusive relationships.
    • Plan your way out. Set aside small amounts of money in a safe place – so even if you don’t have a car, you can pay for a taxi or Uber. Keep identification and other important documents (like social security cards, birth certificates, or passports) on you at all times. If this isn’t possible, hide them somewhere safe and easy to access. Have a safehouse ready – either a women’s shelter or the home of someone you trust. Libraries are a good place to go if you need access to a computer.
    • Seriously consider contacting the police. As we’ll discuss in the next post in this series, abuse is never an isolated incident. If you’re abused once – no matter how much the abuser apologizes – abuse will happen again, and it will grow progressively worse. Do not wait to contact help.
    • You do not deserve to be abused. You are not to blame. This is not your fault. Remember this because the abuser will always shift blame away from themselves and onto you. Do not listen to them. You are not at fault, and you are not alone.

At the Pregnancy Helpline, we’re here to help.

We have resources and connections to help you recognize and escape abuse. We work closely with the Domestic and Sexual Abuse Services (DASAS) of St. Joseph County, and our peer mentors are trained to recognize abuse. If you are a victim of abuse, don’t wait. Contact the DASAS at 1-800-828-2023 or visit the website for additional resources.