Stopping sexual assault is everyone’s responsibility

Everyone is responsible

By Michelle Scheu

Recently, a member of our staff gave me this list to post on social media:

10 Top Tips to End Rape

  1. Don’t put drugs in women’s drinks.
  2. When you see a woman walking by herself, leave her alone.
  3. If you have ever pulled over to help a woman whose car has broken down, remember not to rape her.
  4. If you are in an elevator and a woman gets in, don’t rape her.
  5. Never creep into a woman’s home through an unlocked door or window or spring out at her between parked cars or rape her.
  6. Use the buddy system! If you are not able to stop yourself from assaulting people, ask a friend to stay with you when in public.
  7. Don’t forget: It is not sex with someone who’s asleep or unconscious — it’s RAPE!
  8. Carry a whistle! If you are afraid you may assault someone “by accident,” you can hand it to the person you are with so they can call for help.
  9. Don’t forget: Honesty is the best policy. If you have every intention of having sex later on with the woman you are dating, regardless of how she feels about it, tell her directly that there is a chance you will rape her. If you don’t communicate your intentions, she may take it as a sign that you do not plan to rape her and inadvertently feel safe.
  10. Don’t rape.

Thought provoking, isn’t it? There is a growing awareness, both in this country and abroad of how attitudes about sex and gender contribute to rape culture. You only have to Google “Delhi Bus Gang Rape” to get the picture. Up pop things like “a girl is more responsible for rape than a boy” and “the victim shouldn’t have fought back.” “That man wasn’t born thinking those things, he learned them somewhere.” It’s easy to fall into the trap of believing these kinds of attitudes only happen in other countries, but the truth is it happens here, too, and closer to home than we might ever want to believe. When my daughter went away to school, we had a conversation about protecting herself from sexual assault. Later, she told me how angry that conversation made her. Not because we had the conversation or its content, but because I did not have a similar conversation with her brother. And she was right. If a person who has spent their entire adult career helping people heal from the experience of sexual assault can fall victim to this kind of shortsighted thinking, we have a lot of work to do. We must focus on prevention instead of just protection. Prevention that is aimed at all genders, not just women. Prevention that comes from an open discussion of ideas, not one limited by one end of the ideological spectrum or the other. Be informed. Talk to your daughters and your sons.

The above list is part of a campaign by Rape Crisis Scotland to prevent sexual assault. If you want more information about this effort, you can find it at

Other resources you might find helpful are:

Stopping sexual assault shouldn’t fall only on the shoulders of women. Stopping sexual assault is everyone’s responsibility.



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