Get Help


If you need immediate information you can call one of these 24-hour toll-free hotlines.

  • Rape Abuse & Incest National Network
  • 800-656-4673
  • Childhelp USA
  • 800-422-4453
  • National Domestic Violence/Abuse Hotline
  • 800-799-7233

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 defense/fear circuitry, running on reflexes and habits – during sexual assault, physical assault, and military combat?

The answers have big implications for people who’ve been sexually assaulted, for those who investigate and prosecute such assaults, and for everyone else who knows or works with someone who’s been sexually assaulted.

The answers, it turns out, are the same in every culture. Around the world, the most common responses of people during sexual assaults are basically the same.

Evolution sculpted them into our brains long before we were sophisticated enough to create cultures, long before we began to misunderstand and misjudge sexual assault survivors with culture-based expectations of how women and men “should” respond during assaults and remember them later.

Here I provide answers to those questions with videos, writings, and handouts.

One-Page Handouts


To help with learning and applying what I teach about sexual assault and the brain, I’ve created these one-page handouts.

Key Information for Investigators, Attorneys, Judges, and Others – Reminder of key points, on common brain-based effects during assaults and “cautions, vulnerabilities, and needs.” A helpful detailed summary and reference, especially after watching my videos and/or reading my writings.

Common Sexual Assault Behaviors: Reflexes & Habits – Overview of common but still commonly misunderstood reflex and habit behaviors.

How Brain‐Based Behaviors Tend to Unfold Over Time – Useful for thinking about typical sequences. See also my brief video on this handout.

Potential Overlaps of Dissociation with Habit Behaviors and Other Extreme Survival Reflexes – This Venn diagram clarifies how dissociation may or may not overlap with habit behaviors and other extreme survival reflexes.

All Four Handouts in one PDF

Sexual Assault and the Brain blog


On this blog hosted by Psychology Today, I write about how stress and trauma can alter thinking, behavior, and memory formation in the midst of sexual assaults – and some important implications for justice, healing, and prevention.

Neurobiology of Sexual Assault: Two-part Webinar Series


In these two 90-minute webinars, I cover the same material as my YouTube video but in greater depth, especially on memory issues. Presented in September 2016, these webinars are available for free in EVAWI’s webinar archive (after a quick and simple registration process, to provide the funding agency with viewing statistics).

Part 1: Experience and Behavior

Part 2: Experience and Memory