When a person forces or manipulates someone else into unwanted sexual activity without their consent. Reasons someone might not consent to sexual activity 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.
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.
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.