What Are the Risk Factors for Sexual Assault?

One of the last things you want to think about is sexual assault, but it does happen and anyone can be a victim.

Because of this, you should understand what the risk factors are so that you know when extra caution is in your best interest. Nobody deserves to become a victim, but it’s up to you to prevent an assault from happening.

To put things into perspective, 95% of sexual assaults go unpunished. This means that there’s a great chance a potential attacker gets away with a sexual assault.

Life after an attack is never the same and you’ll face countless challenges during your daily routine. This is why prevention should be a priority, which begins with knowing what factors increase your risk level.

To help keep you safe, we’ll cover the risk factors for sexual assault below.

Being a Young Woman

Arguably the greatest risk factor for becoming a victim of sexual assault is being a young woman.

While any gender can become a victim, it is far more likely to happen to a woman. The reason for this is fairly straightforward and that’s because most sexual predators are male. As a result, women become a natural target as they are the sexual preference for most male predators.

The other element of this risk factor is being young. More specifically, under the age of 25. The ages of 18-24 pose a significantly higher risk due to the lifestyle that many women this age live.

For starters, this age bracket represents most women in college. As you may be aware, sexual assaults are particularly prevalent in college environments.

Younger women are also more likely to participate in social activities like clubbing and parties. As you get older, this desire decreases and you’re more likely to settle into a calmer lifestyle.

As a final component, young women are also targeted for the way that they look. Older women are certainly still beautiful, but many predators just prefer the appearance of younger women.

With this in mind, if you’re a young woman then you should be aware of the natural risk you face and take measures to protect yourself at all times.

Drug and Alcohol Use

Another significant factor is drug and alcohol use.

These both play out a little differently, but they share the same effect of lowering your inhibitions and affecting your judgment. With too much consumption of drugs or alcohol, you can pass out and this is especially problematic.

For drug use, this typically refers to being drugged rather than voluntarily getting high. An attacker may slip a date-rape drug into your drink and lure you into a dangerous situation.

Drinking alcohol is usually voluntary and has a direct relationship with sexual assault. Many incidents involve the consumption of alcohol beforehand because it makes you more vulnerable to an attack.

Because of this, you need to be particularly careful about how much you drink whenever you go out. Don’t drink to the point of getting drunk so that you avoid becoming an easier target for a predator.

Previous Victimization

One of the more heartbreaking risk factors is previous victimization.

This means that if you’ve been a victim of sexual trauma in the past then you’re more likely to become victimized again. Whether that trauma is childhood sexual abuse, sexual violence, or anything of the sort, it makes you more prone to a future attack.

While any incident of sexual assault is horrifying, imagining a second occurrence is hard to think about. The trauma from one incident alone is more than any woman should ever have to experience.

Unfortunately, revictimization is a real possibility due to how you may have been affected by your initial attack. You may not be able to establish boundaries or revert to behavioral patterns that make an assault possible.

If you’ve ever experienced a sexual assault, then you need to seek therapy to help you cope. Failing to do this can leave you vulnerable to another attack, so you want to act quickly to keep yourself safe!

Promiscuous Behavior

Another contributing factor is promiscuous behavior.

This is a slightly trick topic because it dips into victim-blaming, which is downright wrong. As a victim, you are never to blame for a sexual assault happening to you.

That said, there is a link between promiscuity and sexual assault. Women that have multiple sexual partners are more likely to experience a sexual assault at some point in their life.

The likely reason for this is because having multiple partners often translates to being more open to sexual experiences. This can place you into a dangerous environment that women in a monogamous relationship might avoid.

Furthermore, if you’re around people that know you’re promiscuous, they might believe that you’re into sexual contact despite objections you make. The simple association with promiscuity can make you a potential target.

You’re free to make your own sexual choices, but always be cautious when engaging in a new situation or with a new partner.

Intellectual Challenges

As a final significant factor, women with any type of intellectual challenges are also at risk.

This is also a horrifying concept because it means that disabled women are being taken advantage of. Their life is hard enough as it is and the last thing they deserve to deal with is a sexual assault.

Unfortunately, intellectually challenged women are at risk because of their inherent vulnerability. This means that they might not understand what’s happening to them or that an assault is wrong.

Additionally, an intellectual disability makes it difficult to fend off an attack. Predators will use this to their advantage, manipulating a victim and lulling them into a dangerous situation.

If you deal with intellectual difficulties, make sure you develop a support group to make sure that you don’t spend long periods by yourself.

Closing Thoughts

Sexual assault is a highly traumatic experience that you’ll hopefully never need to deal with. You need to do your best to prevent one from happening to you, which starts with understanding the risk factors.

The risk factors for sexual assault include being a young woman, drug and alcohol use, previous victimization, promiscuous behavior, and intellectual disabilities. Falling into any of these categories makes you more likely to be a victim, which means extra caution is a must!

While these factors increase your risk level, nobody is safe and anyone can be a victim. Keep your wits about you at all times and don’t take your safety for granted!

Image by Amaya Eguizábal from Pixabay 

Contributed posts are advertisements written by third parties who have paid Woman Around Town for publication.