Sexual assault is a crime of power and control. It includes any sexual contact or behavior that occurs without explicit consent of the victim, and encompasses all violent acts that are sexual in nature. It includes forced behavior such as unwanted exposure of sexual organs, and non-consensual kissing, fondling, vaginal intercourse, anal sex, oral sex, or sexual touching with objects.
Perpetrators may use not only physical force, but also emotional manipulation, psychological pressure, threats, guilt, or intimidation to coerce a victim into non-consensual sex. Stranger rape is one form of assault, but approximately 4 out of 5 sexual assaults are by someone known to the victim. Survivors often feel guilt after an assault, but it’s important to remember that the victim is never to blame for the actions of a perpetrator.
Sexual harassment is any deliberate or repeated sexual behavior that is unwelcome to its recipient, as well as other sex-related behaviors that are hostile, offensive, or degrading. These can include unwanted sexual advances, request for sexual favors, persistent sexual notes, text messages, or emails, constant innuendos, inappropriate discussion of the victim’s or harasser’s body parts, invasion of personal space, etc.
Anyone can become a target of sexual assault or harassment, regardless of gender, ethnicity, age, sexuality, or economic status. If you have been a victim of sexual abuse, REACH is here to help. We can provide legal advocacy, counseling, and support, so contact us today.