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What is Sexual Assault?

Sexual assault refers to a pattern of behavior that includes rape, but also any unwanted physical contact of a sexual nature. Anything from non-consensual kissing and fondling to forced oral, anal or vaginal sex is an act of sexual assault.

It is important to note that sexual assault is NOT about sex. It is about power and control over another person. Sexual assault leaves victims feeling hurt and humiliated. Here are some interesting facts about sexual assault:

What should I do if I am sexually assaulted?
What is “Rape Trauma Syndrome?”

Rape Trauma Syndrome is an acknowledged form of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD. Victims of rape can experience a wide range of psychological responses including shock, embarrassment, disbelief, shame, guilt, denial, depression, fear, powerlessness, anxiety, disorientation, anger, flashbacks and thoughts of suicide.

Other common concerns of victims include:

“Not everyone will react the same way, but the important thing to understand is that these feelings are normal and appropriate counseling can help you deal with them.”

What can I do to help a friend who has been sexually assaulted?

Understanding what sexual assault means for the survivor will help you be as sensitive as you can be.

Sexual assault is a violent act that strips away a person’s sense of dignity, autonomy, and control. It is violence against a person’s most inner and personal self. It is devastating, in every possible way. Before you help a friend, you must try to understand how awful the experience must have been for them.

If a friend confides in you that they have experienced a sexual assault, it is usually because you are someone they feel they can trust. There are no official “rules” as to the best way to respond, but being as sensitive and non-judgmental as possible is the best place to start.

Here are some tips that may help:

If you are sexually assaulted, know your rights!

You have the right to determine whether or not you want to report the assault to Law Enforcement.

You have the right to have an advocate present at the hospital exam (PC§264.2) and at any interview by Law Enforcement, the District Attorney or Defense Attorney (PC§679.04(a)).

You have the right to be treated in a considerate and sensitive manner by Law Enforcement, medical personnel, advocates, and prosecution personnel.

You have the right not to be subjected to any type of discrimination because of your gender, race, age, class, religion, occupation or sexual orientation.

Where can I get help?

Alliance 24-Hour Hotline Local 661-327-1091

Outside Bakersfield 800-273-7713

LGBTQ Hotline 661-322-2869

Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN)
24-Hours -800-656-HOPE (800-656-4673)

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What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence is a range of behaviors used to establish power and exert control by one intimate partner over the other. Domestic violence is a pattern of assaultive and coercive behaviors that adults or adolescents use against their current or former intimate partners. Partners may be married or not married; heterosexual, gay, lesbian, or bisexual; living together, separated, or dating.

Types of Domestic Violence

Physical Abuse

Punching, biting, kicking, threatening to hit, breaking things, excessive tickling, shoving, throwing things, poking, scratching, strangulation, reckless driving, murder.

Emotional, Verbal and Psychological Abuse

Yelling, cursing, insults, mimicking, degrading comments, twisting words, guilt-producing statements, sarcasm, using sensitive information against you, demanding, accusations, playing mind games such as denying previous abusive incidents or commitments made previously, undercutting your sense of reality.

Sexual Abuse

Forcing sex, sexually inappropriate acts (in private or in public), withholding sex, intimidation to perform non-mutual sexual acts, sexual threats with objects, forcing engaging in or the watching of pornography.

Financial Abuse

Controlling all the money, sabotaging attempts to go to work or school, not allowing partner to work outside the home, refusing to work and forcing partner to support the family, running up credit cards in partner’s name.

Spiritual Abuse

Denying freedom to worship, ridiculing religion, destroying religious icons, using religious texts to justify abuse or to keep partner from leaving.

What is the “Cycle of Violence?”

Violence in an abusive relationship does not always occur at random times. It often follows a repeating cycle with three phases:

Tension Building

Victims report that their partner becomes increasingly irritable, frustrated, and unable to cope with everyday stresses. The victim tries to keep the peace or tries to stay out of the abuser’s way. The victim’s goal is to postpone or prevent the next incidence of violence.

Explosion and Violence

The abuser feels like they are losing control of their victim and engage in abusive behavior to punish the victim and regain control over them. Fighting back can make the violence worse. Victims often deny the seriousness and accept the blame.

The Calm (Honeymoon Phase)

Both partners deny that there is an ongoing problem. The victim may make excuses or blame themselves for the latest incident. The abuser may be sorry for overreacting and will assure the victim that it will not happen again. Sometimes, the abuser may deny or minimize the abuse that happened or blame the victim for the abuser’s own actions.

“All hope it won’t happen again, but too often the cycle repeats itself.”

Why do They Abuse?

Abuse is:

Learned

The abuser learned to be violent toward their partners from their families and/or other role models, especially those seen in the media.

Accepted

Many traditional customs permit, encourage, or accept violence as a normal part of relationships.

Silenced

Abuse is seen as deeply personal; as a result, many people feel “It’s none of my business” and do not intervene, so the victim suffers in silence.

Strategic

Abusers often escalate their violence when they feel they are losing control in the relationship, especially when the victim is trying to leave.

About Control

Abusers often blame the abuse on drugs or alcohol, claiming they lost control or didn’t know what they were doing. Drinkers, however, rarely beat up their drinking buddies or the police, so this is clearly not the case. Contrary to their claims, abusers are in control of their abusive behavior.

Effects on Children

Emotional

Behavioral

Social

Physical

Am I in an Abusive Relationship?

You may be abused if you:

If You Are Hurt, What Can You Do?

There are no easy answers, but there are things you can do to protect yourself:

Call the Police or Sheriff

Assault, even by family members, is a crime. The police often have information about shelters and other agencies that help victims of domestic violence.

Leave!

Or have someone come and stay with you. Go to a friend’s house or call the Alliance Crisis Hotline for assistance in locating a shelter. If you believe that you and your family are in danger, call the police and leave immediately.

Get medical attention

Either from your own doctor or a hospital emergency room. Ask the staff to take photographs of your injuries. Keep detailed records in case you decide to take legal action.

Contact the Alliance about a temporary restraining order and other free services available to you.

IMPORTANT PHONE NUMBERS TO REMEMBER

EMERGENCY 911

Bakersfield Police Department: Non-Emergency Number (661) 327-7111

Kern County Sheriff’s Office: Non-Emergency Number (661) 861-3110

Kern County Victim Services: Assistance Program (661) 868-2400

Legal Assistance in Kern County:

Greater Bakersfield Legal Assistance (661) 325-5943

 

 

Superior Court, Family Law Facilitator (661) 868-2400

 

 

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