Hesperian Health Guides

Hesperian Health Guides

If You Are Sexually Assaulted

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HealthWiki > Where Women Have No Doctor > Chapter 19: Rape and Sexual Assault > If You Are Sexually Assaulted


If a woman is able to resist her attacker, she will usually be able to avoid the rape, even if the rapist has a weapon. The more different ways a woman tries to keep from being raped, the more likely she is to be able to avoid the rape, or to suffer fewer injuries and mental health problems from the rape afterward.

It is impossible to know ahead of time how a woman will react when someone is trying to rape her. Some women are filled with rage and feel strength they did not know they had. Others feel like they cannot move. If this should ever happen to you, know that you will do what you can.

Here are some ideas that may help you during a sexual assault:

  • Do not cry, plead, or give in. It usually does not help. In fact, women who try this often suffer more injuries than women who fight back.
  • Stay aware. Watch the rapist carefully. There may be times when he is not watching you, or when he loses his control.
  • Try different things. Kick, yell, bargain, trick him— do whatever you can think of to make him realize you are not an easy victim. Try to make him realize that you are a person, not an object.
a woman talking to a man trying to rape her
I have 6 brothers and they'll kill you if you hurt me

If there are several people trying to rape you, or if the rapist has a weapon, you can still resist, but it is usually better not to fight back physically.

  • If you know the rapist, tell him how you feel. Do not let him believe that women like to be raped. Make him be aware of what he is doing to you.
  • If the rapist is a stranger, try to memorize what he looks like. How big is he? Does he have scars, marks, or tatoos? What kind of clothes is he wearing? Try to remember them so that you can tell the police and warn the other women in your community.
  • Use your best judgement. Only you can decide how much to fight back. In some rape situations, for example, during war, the rapist may have no reason to keep you alive if you resist.


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