Sexual Assault

What is Sexual Assault?

Sexual assault is defined as any sexual activity involving a person who does not or cannot (due to alcohol, drugs, or some sort of incapacitation) consent.

According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, "sexual assault can be verbal, visual, or anything that forces a person to join in unwanted sexual contact or attention." Sexual assault is therefore somewhat of an umbrella term, and can describe many things, including:

  • Rape, including partner and marital rape
  • Unwanted sexual contact (touching or grabbing)
  • Unwelcome exposure of another's body, exhibitionism, or voyeurism
  • Child sexual abuse
  • Incest or molestation
  • Sexual harassment
  • Sexual exploitation of clients by therapists, doctors, dentists, or other professionals
  • Sexual assault is an act of power. This can be obvious, like in a situation where the perpetrator has a weapon.  Sexual assault can also occur when physical force or a threat is used against the victim or someone the victim cares about. However, physical coercion or force is not always present or necessary. In some sexual assault, the violence is more subtle, like when the perpetrator's age, size, or status is used to scare, trick, or manipulate the victim.

Anyone can be a victim of sexual assault. People of all ages, races, economic backgrounds, sexualities, and lifestyles have been victims. Males as well as females can be victims.  Everyone deserves help and support.