What is Sexual Violence?
Sexual violence means that someone is forced, coerced, or manipulated by someone else into unwanted sexual activity without their consent. Reasons someone might not consent or be able to consent include: fear, age, illness, disability, and/or influence of alcohol or other drugs. Anyone can experience sexual violence, including children, teens, adults, and elderly.
Forms of sexual violence may include:
- Rape or sexual assault
- Child sexual assault abuse by stranger, parent, relative, or another child.
- Intimate partner sexual assault
- Sexual exploitation or trafficking
- Sexual harassment
- Unwanted sexual contact/touching
- Watching someone in a private act without their knowledge or permission
- Showing one’s genitals or naked body to other(s) without consent
Force can be accomplished by physical assault, threats, manipulation, coercion, or trickery. The perpetrator’s goal in using any kind of force, physical or emotional is to make the intended victim vulnerable and less able to protect themselves. Often, the kind of force the assailant uses may become the focus of a victim’s self-blame. (“I shouldn’t have been drinking.” “I shouldn’t have gone off alone with them.” “I should have fought back harder or argued more.”) It may help to remember that the assailant’s intent is to make you feel vulnerable.
Sexual assault can be a humiliating, terrifying, and often brutal crime that violates an individual in the most intimate way. Whether a victim knows or does not know the assailant, the fear and terror can feel the same. In certain situations, victims say their fear of being killed during the assault may have been stronger than their fear of being raped. The motive for sexual assault is not a need for sexual gratification, but the desire to overpower, dominate, humiliate or hurt another person. Sex is not the motivator, but the tool of that harm.
Who are the Perpetrators?
Perpetrators can be anyone. Perpetrators are family members, strangers, acquaintances, spouses or other intimate partners, someone of the opposite sex or someone of the same sex, or professionals such as a counselor, clergy or medical personnel. Sexual violence occurs within all industries and professions.