Violence Against Women

Goals

To understand ways that women can protect themselves from sexual assault as well as measures or actions that can be taken by cities, states, or municipalities to help prevent assault and sexual assault from occurring.

Early Findings

Self-Protection Measures

  • One of the most important ways a woman can protect herself against sexual assault is to be vigilant and prepared in every situation and trust her gut instinct if something does not feel right.
  • When traveling, women should stay around as many people as possible. If traveling by a bus or train, women should stay in a car with the most passengers, especially if traveling at night. When on a bus, women should sit as close to the driver as they can.
  • When parked in a parking lot, women should have their keys in hand and ready to unlock the door instead of searching for their keys in a purse or bag while approaching the car. Also, women should avoid being on their cell phone or using earphones when walking across the parking lot. Women should always look in the back seat of their car before opening the doors. After getting into a car, the doors should be relocked.
  • If at a party, bar or restaurant, women should watch their drinks closely and never leave them unattended. If at any time a woman begins to feel drowsy or overly intoxicated despite having a minimum number of drinks, she should tell a waitress or bartender or call a friend. She should never leave a bar or party with a stranger or even her date if she suspects her drink may have been drugged.
  • For a first date a woman can plan to drive herself and arrange the date at a place with a lot of other people. She should be sure to tell others where she is going and who she is meeting. In addition, she can plan an intervetion in case she needs help. This would involve creating a key word or phrase that she can text to a friend if she begins to feel uncomfortable. The friend could then either call her cell phone or arrive at the location to assist.

Sexual Assault Initiatives

An intensive search of sexual assault initiatives in Washington DC, Marlyland, and Virginia found that these programs are scarce. The programs that are state sponsored are aimed more at domestic violence or empowering children to report sexual assault rather than women.
  • The Washington DC Rape Prevention Education (RPE) Program the Community Health Administration. The program is aimed primarily at Kindergarten through twelve and thier families. The curricula is designed to provide age appropriate sexual violence prevention information.
  • Maryland's Rape and Sexual Assault Prevention Program (RSAPP) aims to prevent sexual assault "through education, collaboration, and professional training." It was established in 1996 within the Maryland Department of Health (MDH) through a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  • The Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance is the leading advocacy group providing resources and training in Virginia on sexual violence topics. The state does not appear to have any specific initiatives on sexual assault prevention.

Proposed next steps:

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Our initial research found five ways that women can protect themselves against sexual assault. We propose further research to identify an additional 5-7 ways that women can protect themselves, specifically when they are traveling, dating, working, or on their way to/from the gym.
We also found that initiatives in Washington DC, Maryland, and Virginia are focused more on domestic violence and sexual violence against children rather than sexual assault against women in general. We propose further research to identify 2-3 examples of state-sponsored initiatives in the United States that focus primarily on the prevention of sexual assault on women that could be adopted in the DC metropolitan area. For each example, we will provide an overview of the initiative, its mission, and any success metrics.