Category: Sexual Abuse

Sexual Violence

Sexual Violence

What is Consent?

 

Definition of Consent:

  • Verb (used without object) to permit, approve, or agree; comply or yield (often followed by to or an infinitive):

Example: He consented to the proposal. We asked her permission, and she consented.

  • Noun: permission, approval, or agreement; compliance; acquiescence:

Example: He gave his consent to the marriage.

 

 

 

What is sexual violence?

Sexual violence means that someone forces or manipulates someone else into unwanted sexual activity without their consent. Reasons someone might not consent include fear, age, illness, disability, and/or influence of alcohol or other drugs. 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

    • Definition of Rape: unlawful sexual intercourse or any other sexual penetration of the vagina, anus, or mouth of another person, with or without force, by a sex organ, other body part, or foreign object, without the consent of the victim.
  • Child sexual assault and incest
  • Intimate partner sexual assault unwanted sexual contact/touching

  • Sexual harassment

    • Definition of Sexual Harassment: noun-unwelcome sexual advances made by an employer or superior, especially when compliance is made a condition of continued employment or advancement.
  • Sexual exploitation
    • Sexual exploitation is an act or acts committed through non-consensual abuse or exploitation of another person’s sexuality for the purpose of sexual gratification, financial gain, personal benefit or advantage, or any other non-legitimate purpose.
  • Showing one’s genitals or naked body to other(s) without consent y Masturbating in public
  • Watching someone in a private act without their knowledge or permission

 

Myths and Facts about Sexual Violence

 

The U.S. Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women compiled the following myths and facts of sexual violence:

 

Myth #1: Victims provoke sexual assaults when they dress provocatively or act in a promiscuous manner.

Fact: Rape and sexual assault are crimes of violence and control that stem from a person’s determination to exercise power over another. Neither provocative dress nor promiscuous behavior are invitations for unwanted sexual activity. Forcing someone to engage in non-consensual sexual activity is sexual assault, regardless of the way that person dresses or acts.

 

Myth #2: If a person goes to someone’s room, house, or goes to a bar, he/she assumes the risk of sexual assault. If something happens later, he/she can’t claim that he/she was raped or sexually assaulted because he/she should have known not to go to those places.

Fact: This “assumption of risk” wrongfully places the responsibility of the offender’s actions with the victim. Even if a person went voluntarily to someone’s residence or room and consented to engage in some sexual activity, it does not serve as a blanket consent for all sexual activity. If a person is unsure about whether the other person is comfortable with an elevated level of sexual activity, the person should stop and ask. When someone says “No” or “Stop”, that means STOP. Sexual activity forced upon another without consent is sexual assault.

 

Myth #3: It’s not sexual assault if it happens after drinking or taking drugs.

Fact: Being under the influence of alcohol or drugs is not an invitation for non-consensual sexual activity. A person under the influence of drugs or alcohol does not cause others to assault him/her; others choose to take advantage of the situation and sexually assault him/her because he/she is in a vulnerable position. Many state laws hold that a person who is cognitively impaired due to the influence of drugs or alcohol is not able to consent to sexual activity. The act of an offender who deliberately uses alcohol as a means to subdue someone in order to engage in non-consensual sexual activity is also criminal.

 

Information sourced from: https://www.law.georgetown.edu/your-life-career/health-fitness/sexual-assault-relationship-violence-services/myths-and-facts-about-sexual-violence/

 

Additional Statistics

https://www.nsvrc.org/

https://www.rainn.org/statistics

https://www.cdc.gov/injury/features/sexual-violence/index.html

How to help a friend?

How to help a friend?

If you are suspecting that your friend or family member is experiencing abuse of any kind, there are things YOU CAN do to help.

 

 

 

Guide your friend to community services

Let your friend know about the services offered in your community, like us at C.A.R.E.  Let your friend know that THEY ARE NOT ALONE and that if he/she doesn’t want to discuss the abuse with you, they can contact a certified victim advocate for FREE at 941-627-6000 or 941-475-6465 and everything they say is completely confidential.

 

 

How to help a victim of Domestic Violence?

The following are helpful tips on how to approach the situation if the victim is not ready to call C.A.R.E. for assistance.

 

Start the Conversation

You can bring up the subject of domestic violence by saying “I’m worried about you because …..” or “I’m concerned about your safety…” Maybe you’ve seen the person wearing unusual clothing for the weather to cover up bruises or noticed that the person wearing extra make-up. Maybe they have suddenly become unusually quiet or withdrawn. All of these behaviors can be signs of abuse.

Take it slow and easy.  Let the person know that you are available and offering a sympathetic ear. Do not force the conversation, this may lead them to shut down.

Listen Without Judgment

If the person does decide to talk, listen to the story without being judgmental. This can be difficult at times for many of us, just do your best. Offer advice, or suggest realistic solutions. Chances are if you actively listen, the person will tell you exactly what they need. You can ask clarifying questions, but mainly just let the person vent their feelings and fears. You may be the first person in which the victim has confided.

Believe the Victim

Domestic violence is more about control than anger, often the victim is the only one who sees the dark side of the perpetrator. More often than not, friends and family members are shocked to learn that a loved one could commit acts of violence. Consequently, victims often will feel that no one will believe them if they told people about the violence. Believe the victim and offer them reassurance. Examples include:

I believe you

This is not your fault

You don’t deserve this.

For a victim, finally having someone who knows the truth about their struggles can bring a sense of hope and relief.

Validate their Feelings

It’s not unusual for victims to express conflicting feelings about their partner and their situation. These feelings can range from:

Guilt/ Anger

Hope/ Despair

Love/ Fear

It is important you validate their feelings by explaining that, having these conflicting thoughts/feelings is completely normal. But it is also important that you confirm that violence is not okay! It is not normal to live in fear of being abused. Some victims may not realize that their situation is abnormal because they have no other models for relationships and have gradually become accustomed to the cycle of violence.

Be informed

You’re obviously already trying to become informed by reading this information, but find out all the facts you can about domestic violence. We have tons of information under the “Get Help” tab on our website.

Build your friend up

Let them know their potential, they will survive and overcome this situation. Describe all of their good qualities; “You are: Strong, Beautiful, Intelligent, ETC . You don’t know how beat down they have been from their abuser; they do not need anyone else pointing out their so-called flaws.

Be patient

Reaching out for help takes A LOT of courage. There are many factors that may delay your friend from seeking help or leaving their abuser. Here are just a few examples:

  • Fear of harm if they leave
  • They still love their partner and believe they will change
  • A strong belief that marriage is “for better or worse”
  • Thinking the abuse is their fault
  • Staying for the children
  • Lack of self-confidence
  • Lack of means (job, money, transportation) to survive on their own

There is also a good chance if they leave their abuser, they may go back. Please remember to be patient and supportive despite how frustrating the situation may become. Your friend/ family member needs you!

 

 

How to help a victim of Rape?

Guide your friend to community services

Let your friend know about the services offered in your community, like us at C.A.R.E.  Let your friend know that THEY ARE NOT ALONE and that if he/she doesn’t want to discuss the assault with you, they can contact a certified victim advocate for FREE at 941-637-0404 or 941-475-6465 the conversation will be completely confidential.

 

The following are helpful tips on how to approach the situation if the victim is not ready to call C.A.R.E. for assistance.

 

Believe the victim. Make it clear to the victim you believe the assault happened and that the assault is the fault of the abuser, NOT the victim.

 

Remain calm

You might feel shock, anger or rage, but expressing these emotions to the victims may cause more trauma.

Encourage medical attention

Medical care is important, there may be internal injuries that are not obvious, or the victim may have been exposed to sexually transmitted diseases. Victims are entitled to a forensic medical exam, whether or not they decide to report the assault to Law Enforcement.

 

Give the Victim Control

Control has been stripped from the victim during the assault. Allow the victim to make their own decisions about what steps to take next, while staying supportive.

Maintain confidentiality

Let the victim decide who will know about the assault.

Let the victim express feeling

Listen without adding your opinions. If the victim wishes to remain silent, do not force discussion. Say you will be there to listen always. It is important for you not to judge a victim’s response. One victim may react very emotionally and another may be extremely calm. No matter how victims react, their emotions are normal and okay.

Some common/immediate reactions to sexual assault:

Crying/sobbing

Shaking/ denial

Fear/shame/anger

self-blame/guilt/helplessness

embarrassment