The State of Florida uses the term sexual battery; others call it sexual assault or rape. It is all the same thing, a violent crime that uses sex as a weapon that effects our communities and universities nationwide. Some people have the wrong idea about sexual battery. They think the attacker was overcome with sexual desire, the victim was dressed too seductively, or the victim asked for it. These ideas assume that sexual battery is motivated by sexual desire. It is a violent crime, a hostile attack, and an attempt to hurt, humiliate, and control the victim. Sex is only the weapon.
Sexual Battery is defined by Florida Law as oral, anal or vaginal penetration by or union with, the sex organ of another or oral, anal or vaginal penetration by an another with any object. Sexual battery occurs when the act involves force, threats or intimidation and is against the victim's will. There is a big difference between consent and submission out of fear. If you fear for your life, your physical safety, or the life and safety of a loved one, you may sincerely believe you have no other alternative than to submit to a sexual act. This does not mean that you have consented to it. The decision to resist or not to resist can only be made by the person who is attacked.
Note: The only person responsible for sexual misconduct is the perpetrator. It is against the law to engage in sexual activities without consent. Someone incapacitated due to alcohol or drugs cannot consent to sexual activity. With no intent to victim blame and recognizing that only abusers are responsible for their abuse, the following information is presented to reduce one's risk of sexual assault or harassment:
You are a victim of a crime if you have had unwanted sexual contact. Sexual battery is no less serious if you know your attacker. Previous sexual contact with your attacker does not justify or excuse the crime. If you think sexual battery is motivated by passion or happens because the victim asked for or wanted it, look at the facts. Sexual battery can happen to anyone - you, your children, co-workers, or friends, or other members of your family. The victim can be any age, race, have any income level and live in the city or in the country. It can happen to anyone.
Anyone May Become A Victim
Sexual battery awareness is based on environmental alertness. Remember alcohol and drugs dull your senses and judgement. When uncomfortable, trust your instincts!
The Situation - Perhaps you think sexual battery happens only in certain high-risk situations such as hitchhiking, walking alone at night, or going out socially alone. It's true that sexual battery can occur in such situations, but it also takes place in ordinary, seemingly safe places. In fact, about one-third of all rapes occur in or near the victim's residence. About one-half of the rapes are by first or casual dates or romantic acquaintances.
The Assailant - It is important to be aware that most sexual offenders don't look abnormal or act strangely. In fact, perpetrators of sexual battery are not always strangers to their victims. In many cases, the assailant is an acquaintance, neighbor, friend, or relative.
Acquaintances - Date rape prevention involves educating both young men and young women. NO means NO. The only thing you should expect from a date is thank you. It should be understood that everyone has the right and responsibility to communicate clearly-to say what they mean and want. They should trust their instincts and learn to stay out of risky situations.
- Find out about a new date. Ask others who know or have dated the person. Date with friends before accepting a single date. Make definite plans in advance. Inform a friend, roommate or someone else you trust of your plans, who you will be with and when you plan to return.
- Take your own vehicle or meet at the destination. Carry money for a phone call or fare home.
- Avoid parties where men greatly outnumber women. Don't leave a group setting with a person you don't know.
- Attend parties in small groups where possible.
- Be wary of behavior that makes you feel uncomfortable. If it persists, leave. Stand up for yourself.
- Avoid secluded places where you are put in a vulnerable position.
- Be careful when inviting someone to your residence or accepting an invitation to theirs.
- If someone is pressuring you, say that you don't like it-and mean it.
- It's O.K. to refuse a date. Trust your instincts!
Prevention of any crime begins with awareness. Become aware of your surroundings and stay tuned in for possible danger or threats to your safety. Here are some tips for adding this awareness to your daily life.
- Be sure the doors of your residence are locked when you are there as well as when away.
- Use peepholes to identify people before opening the door.
- Make sure that all windows are properly secured.
- Never indicate to anyone that you are alone.
- Never let strangers inside your residence to use the phone. Offer to make the call for them.
- Use blinds or draperies for privacy.
- Avoid being in isolated areas such as laundries or parking areas alone, especially at night.
- List your initials instead of your first name on your mailbox and in the telephone directory.
- Always have your key ready for quick entry.
- Have a telephone with a lighted keypad readily available near your bed for quick use at night.
- If you find a door or window open or signs of forced entry upon arriving at your residence, don't enter. Go to the nearest phone and call the police.
- Avoid walking alone! If you feel uncomfortable walking on campus, call the UPD at 904-620-2800 and request an escort from a safety ranger or police officer. We are always glad to offer this service!
- You can also use the Safe Osprey "Mobile Blue Light" feature to request immediate help from UPD or the "Friend Walk" feature which allows your friend or parent to monitor your location as you walk.
- Stay in well-lighted areas, away from alleys, bushes, and entryways.
- Walk on the side of the street facing traffic.
- If a driver stops to ask directions, avoid getting close to the car.
- If a car appears to be following you, turn and walk in the opposite direction and find a populated location to get assistance. Also, be sure to call police.
- Don't hitchhike and only accept rides from people you know well.
- Always be alert and aware. If someone bothers you, don't be embarrassed to attract attention to yourself. Yell!
- Always try to let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return.
TRAVELING IN YOUR CAR
- Have your keys ready when you approach the vehicle.
- Check inside your vehicle before entering.
- Always lock your doors, both when driving and when parked.
- Park in well-lighted areas.
- Avoid isolated roads and shortcuts.
- Keep your vehicle in good repair and make certain you have enough fuel.
- If your vehicle breaks down, raise the hood or display a sign. Stay in the vehicle with the doors locked and the windows rolled up. If someone stops to offer you help, roll the window down slightly and ask the person to call for assistance.
- If you are followed, drive to the nearest open business for help, or go to a police or fire station.
- If involved in a minor collision at night or in an isolated area, do not exit to inspect the damage or contact the other driver. Signal the other driver with your lights and proceed to the nearest lighted and occupied business or police station.
KNOW YOUR DEFENSES
Because all people and all situations are different, there is no ONE way for you to protect yourself. People have different capabilities, and you must decide for yourself the best defense method for you.
Ways to react to a sexual battery
- The goal of passive resistance is to think and talk your way out of the situation. With passive resistance you can:
- Try to calm the attacker. Try to persuade them not to carry out the attack.
- Try to discourage the attacker. Pretend to faint, cry hysterically, and act mentally incapacitated or insane.
- If you are at your residence, tell the attacker a friend is coming over or that your spouse or roommate will be back soon.
Active resistance is intended to distract or temporarily injure your attacker to create an opportunity for escape. Nobody can tell you whether or not active resistance will be the right thing to do. A decision to resist actively, however, is irreversible. Your goal is to escape. Here are some considerations regarding the most common types of active resistance:
Yell don't scream: Screaming comes from the throat and can be mistaken for playful banter. Screaming is also associated with fear. Yelling comes from the diaphragm, the center of your power. It is an empowerment action, attracts attention, and cannot be mistaken for a playful scream. Yelling also prepares your body to accept a blow, if necessary, without having the wind knocked out of you. A yell can surprise or frighten an attacker away if they fear people will come to help.
A forceful struggle may also discourage an attacker. If you are not afraid to hurt someone, and can land a strong kick or hit, fighting back may give you the opportunity to escape. All hits and kicks must be forceful and aimed at vulnerable areas, such as the groin, eyes or the instep.
Could You Effectively Defend Yourself If Attacked?
Have you trained enough, are you fit enough to successfully defend yourself if attacked? Only you know your capabilities. Take a self-defense course. Learn, practice and then decide if it is for you. The UPD offers Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) training for students, faculty and staff. Call 904-620-2800 to request this training.
Submitting to an Attack
If you believe you might get hurt defending yourself or if you're afraid to fight back, don't. Victims who do not resist should never feel guilty; it is the assailant who committed the crime.
IF YOU HAVE BEEN ATTACKED...
Many victims of sexual battery don't know where to turn for help or what to do. You may be afraid or ashamed to talk to anyone or want to act as though nothing has happened.
If You've Been Sexually Battered:
- Go to a place of safety.
- Do not douche, change clothes, shower, or do anything to change your appearance. If you do, you may destroy evidence (seminal fluid, hair, clothing fibers, etc . . .) that the police may need to arrest and convict your attacker.
- Do not disturb the physical surroundings in which the attack took place. If you do, you may destroy valuable evidence.
- Report the crime to the UPD at 904-620-2800 or the appropriate law enforcement agency. This does not mean you must proceed with prosecution.
- Contact the UNF Women's Center Victim's Advocate 24-hours a day, 7-days a week at 904-620-1010
- Contact the UNF Counseling Center at 904-620-2602. If after regular office hours, call 904-620-2602, wait for the voice prompt then select Option 2.