Saturday, April 26, 2008

Do You Have Five Minutes?

As April winds to a close, so does Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). The National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) created SAAM as an opportunity to talk about rape and rape prevention. Currently, one in every six women will be a victim of sexual assault in her lifetime. And in the two minutes it takes you to read this, a person in the US will be sexually assaulted (RAINN statistics)

So in honor of SAAM, how about taking a few minutes to do something positive? Here are 5 ways you can use 5 minutes today to prevent rape and sexual assault:

1: Learn...and comment:
Did you know that Maryland law up until recently held that if a woman withdrew consent during a sexual act and their partner continued, the act could not be defined as rape? This hideous law was recently overturned so that if a women withdraws consent and is forced to continue, it is legally rape.

The Baltimore Sun published this article by Julie Bykowicz which explains the original law as well as why and how it was overruled. Here's just a sample of some of the comments attached to this:

"It's clear who's getting raped here, and it's not the woman"-John
"It's becoming dangerous to be a man."
"I put it in, and then you change your mind, feminism gone mad." -Larry g

Take five minutes. Read the article and leave a comment that shows the Johns and Larry Gs out there that if it's so difficult for men to stop when their partner wants to end the intercourse, they probably shouldn't be having sex at all. That's not "feminism gone mad." That's just common sense.

2: Protect yourself:
Learn about ways to reduce your risk of sexual assault by going to this section of RAINN's website. You can also find new ways to protect yourself through taking a self defense class. The Campus Recreation Services at the University of Maryland will be holding a self defense class on May 4 from 4-7:00. For more information, you can contact Mary Mires at

3. Contact Natalie Shank:
When University of Portland student Amy Kerns reported to school authorities that she had been raped, nothing happened to her rapist for a year. She called to find out why and was reprimanded by Natalie Shank for underage drinking. According to Kerns

“[Shank] decided since we were both drinking, rape couldn’t have occurred. . .
It was like she was the one deciding consent—not me.”

You can learn more about this at feministing. You can also contact Natalie Shank at and demand that action be taken in Amy Kerns case.

4. Find help online:
The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) recently released a new counseling service to support sexual assault victims. RAINN's online hotline allows victims to receive anonymous help from a trained crisis support volunteer. If you or someone you know could benefit from this free, confidential service, visit the national sexual assault online hotline website.

5. Sign Up to Volunteer:
There are 21 Rape Crisis centers in Maryland and all of them are looking for volunteers. Check out this complete list of Maryland rape crisis centers. You can also visit RAINN's website as well as the DC Rape Crisis Center's website to find out about other volunteer opportunities.

These are just a few ways you can make a difference. Do you know other positive ways to use five minutes to combat sexual assault and rape? Leave a comment and let us know so we can add them to this list. In the next few weeks, we'll re-post the updated list and send it out to all of our online groups. Yes, by then SAAM will be over. But the problem won't. So take five minutes. Tell us some of your ideas.


TerpGal85 said...

Thanks for this excellent entry. I'm so glad to hear that the court recognizes that continuing sex after a woman has withdrawn consent is rape. How anyone can think that the MAN is being victimized, I don't know. NO means NO - when a woman says it shouldn't matter.

In regards to the date rape incident, I'm shocked to see that another woman was so accusatory and sexist. Women should be allies in the fight against sexual assault - not enemies.

Andre said...

The story regarding Natalie Shank is outrageous! A woman who should be helping acting in such manner is ridiculous. The best way to combat antiquated attitudes is to become involved. Volunteering is an excellent suggestion. Thanks!