Sexual Assault & the Brain

Available in English, Spanish and German, with other languages coming.

Why don't many people fight or yell when they're being raped?

Why are memories of sexual assault so often fragmentary and confusing?

Is the brain’s response to attack essentially the same – controlled by the circuitry of fear, running on reflexes and habits – during sexual assault, physical assault, and military combat?

What are the implications of the answers to those questions – for people who've been sexually assaulted, for those who investigate and prosecute such crimes, and for everyone else who encounters or knows someone who's been sexually assaulted?

These are questions I spend a lot of time answering these days as a consultant and trainer.

Here I provide answers, with links to my writings in the popular media, videos of me training and answering questions about sexual assault, and handouts with guidance for police officers, victim advocates and others who interview and work with people who have been sexually assaulted.

The answers, it turns out, are the same in every culture. Everywhere people live around the world, the most common responses of sexual assault victims are basically the same.

Evolution programmed these responses into our brains long before we were sophisticated enough to create cultures, and long before we began to misunderstand and misjudge victims with culture-based expectations of how women and men “should” respond while being sexually assaulted and “should” remember such experiences.

Because the experiences, behaviors, and memories of sexual assault victims are essentially the same in every culture, and thanks to the help of colleagues around the world, I am providing answers to these questions in other languages, with translations of articles that I originally published in English in the United States.

For information about having me provide a presentation or training, see Professional Services or email me at and include "training" in the subject line.