Sexual violence occurs whenever a person is forced, coerced, and/or manipulated into any unwanted sexual activity, including when s/he is unable to consent due to age, illness, disability, or the influence of alcohol or other drugs. (National Sexual Violence Resource Center-nsvrc.org)
Anyone can experience sexual violence including: children, teens, adults, and elders. Those who sexually abuse can be acquaintances, family members, trusted individuals or strangers.
Forms of Sexual Violence
- Rape or sexual assault
- Child sexual assault and incest
- Intimate partner sexual assault
- Unwanted sexual contact/touching
- Sexual harassment
- Sexual exploitation
- Showing one’s genitals or naked body to other(s) without consent
- Masturbating in public
- Watching someone in a private act without their knowledge or permission
Facts About Sexual Violence
FACT: Chances are you know someone who has been sexually assaulted.
Sexual violence affects people of all genders, ages, races, religions, incomes, abilities, professions, ethnicities, and sexual orientations. However, social inequalities can heighten the risk. By age 18, 1 in 4 girls will be sexually assaulted; by age 18, 1 in 6 boys will be assaulted.
FACT: Victims usually know their assaulter.
People who sexually assault usually attack someone they know — a friend, classmate, neighbor, coworker, or relative.
The Rapist isn't a Masked Stranger (Statistics taken from rainn.org)
FACT: Victims are never at fault for a sexual assault.
It doesn’t matter what someone is wearing or how they are acting, no one asks to be raped.
FACT: Rape is the least reported and convicted violent crime in the U.S.
There are many reasons why victims may choose not to report to law enforcement or tell anyone about what happened to him/her. Some include:
- Concern for not being believed
- Fear of the attackers getting back at him/her
- Embarrassment or shame
- Fear of being blamed
- Pressure from others not to tell
- Distrust of law enforcement
- Belief that there is not enough evidence
- Desire to protect the attacker
Sexually abusive methods of retaining power and control include an abusive partner:
- Forcing you to dress in a sexual way
- Insulting you in sexual ways or calls you sexual names
- Forcing or manipulating you into to having sex or performing sexual acts
- Holding you down during sex
- Demanding sex when you’re sick, tired or after hurting you
- Hurting you with weapons or objects during sex
- Involving other people in sexual activities with you against your will
- Ignoring your feelings regarding sex
- Forcing you to watch pornography
- Purposefully trying to pass on a sexually transmitted disease to you
Sexual coercion lies on the ‘continuum’ of sexually aggressive behavior. It can vary from being egged on and persuaded, to being forced to have contact. It can be verbal and emotional, in the form of statements that make you feel pressure, guilt, or shame. You can also be made to feel forced through more subtle actions. For example, an abusive partner:
- Making you feel like you owe them because you’re in a relationship, because you’ve had sex before, because they spent money on you or bought you a gift
- Giving you drugs and alcohol to “loosen up” your inhibitions
- Playing on the fact that you’re in a relationship, saying things such as: “Sex is the way to prove your love for me,”; “If I don’t get sex from you I’ll get it somewhere else”
- Reacting negatively with sadness, anger or resentment if you say no or don’t immediately agree to something
- Continuing to pressure you after you say no
- Making you feel threatened or afraid of what might happen if you say no
- Trying to normalize their sexual expectations: ex. “I need it, I’m a man”
Even if your partner isn’t forcing you to do sexual acts against your will, being made to feel obligated is coercion in itself. Dating someone, being in a relationship, or being married never means that you owe your partner intimacy of any kind.
What To Do In Case Of A Sexual Assault
- Get to a safe place.
- Call a friend or family member to be with you.
- Breathe deeply and remind yourself that you are of value, and that what has happened is wrong and in no way your fault.
- Call the police. A crime has been committed.
- Do not bathe, douche or change clothes; if clothes are removed, place in a paper bag to preserve evidence. You may be destroying legal evidence, regardless of whether you pursue legal action or not.
- Go to a hospital emergency department for medical care. This can be done without police intervention, if that is your choice.
- Write down as much as you can remember about the circumstance of the assault and the identity of your assailant.
- Seek counseling and legal assistance from Valley Crisis Center (24 Hour Crisis Line, 209-722-HELP (4357)). The counselor there can help you deal with the after effects of an assault.
- Reporting the assault is a way of regaining your sense of personal power and control. It enables you to actively protest the violent crime that has been committed against you.
- Reporting and prosecuting the assailant are essential in establishing new norms that this behavior is NOT okay. Taking legal steps helps prevent rape and protect other potential victims. See Reporting Options.
How To Help A Friend
- Believe your friend. A few people are going to act as if your friend has lied or done
something wrong. She/he will need your support.
Listen carefully and do not laugh. People often laugh if they are embarrassed or nervous.
- Help your friend to report the sexual assault by referring them to the appropriate
resources. See Reporting Options.
Let your friend know it is not her/his fault
- Be confidential and protect your friend's privacy.
- Be verbal in letting your friend know that you care and that you support her/him.