What is Sexual Assault?
Sexual assault can take many different forms, but one thing remains the same: it’s never the victim’s fault.
What is sexual assault?
The term sexual assault refers to sexual contact or behavior that occurs without explicit consent of the victim. Some forms of sexual assault include:
- Attempted rape
- Fondling or unwanted sexual touching
- Forcing a victim to perform sexual acts, such as oral sex or penetrating the perpetrator’s body
- Penetration of the victim’s body, also known as rape
What is rape?
Rape is a form of sexual assault, but not all sexual assault is rape. The term rape is often used as a legal definition to specifically include sexual penetration without consent. For its Uniform Crime Reports, the FBI defines rape as “penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.” To see how your state legally defines rape and other forms of sexual assault, visit RAINN’s State Law Database.
What is force?
Force doesn’t always refer to physical pressure. Perpetrators may use emotional coercion, psychological force, or manipulation to coerce a victim into non-consensual sex. Some perpetrators will use threats to force a victim to comply, such as threatening to hurt the victim or their family or other intimidation tactics.
The term “date rape” is sometimes used to refer to acquaintance rape. Perpetrators of acquaintance rape might be a date, but they could also be a classmate, a neighbor, a friend’s significant other, or any number of different roles. It’s important to remember that dating, instances of past intimacy, or other acts like kissing do not give someone consent for increased or continued sexual contact.
In other instances the victim may not know the perpetrator at all. This type of sexual violence is sometimes referred to as stranger rape. Stranger rape can occur in several different ways:
- Blitz sexual assault: when a perpetrator quickly and brutally assaults the victim with no prior contact, usually at night in a public place
- Contact sexual assault: when a perpetrator contacts the victim and tries to gain their trust by flirting, luring the victim to their car, or otherwise trying to coerce the victim into a situation where the sexual assault will occur
- Home invasion sexual assault: when a stranger breaks into the victim’s home to commit the assault
Survivors of both stranger rape and acquaintance rape often blame themselves for behaving in a way that encouraged the perpetrator. It’s important to remember that the victim is a never to blame for the actions of a perpetrator.
Myths About Rape
- When a girl says “no,” she really means “yes.”
A lot of guys think a girl just says no because she’s supposed to – and that she can’t say that she wants sex even when she does. And that “no” is just the beginning of negotiating for a “yes”. But a guy doesn’t have the right to make up a girl’s mind for her, or to pressure her to agree.
- Girls who get drunk at parties or on dates deserve whatever happens to them.
Getting drunk is not a good idea if you want to keep yourself safe, but it does not make it okay for a guy to take advantage of the situation. As a matter of fact, since rape is defined as sex without consent, having sex with someone who is drunk IS RAPE. By law, if a person is intoxicated or drugged, they do not have the ability to give consent.
- If a girl wears sexy clothes on a date, it means she wants to have sex.
Girls often dress to look attractive for a date, but that doesn’t mean that they want to have sex with them (or anyone else, for that matter). It is impossible to determine what a girl wants to do – sex or any other activity – based on what clothes she is wearing.
- Rape is sometimes the victim’s fault – in some circumstances.
It is NEVER, under ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, the victim’s fault. Without consent, freely given, a sexual act is rape, and it is against the law.
- If a woman goes somewhere alone with a man that means she wants to have sex with him.
Sometimes it’s nice for a girl to be alone with her date. It’s easier to talk, and find out what the guy’s really like. They might want to see how they get along together without their friends around. This may even mean going in to a bedroom. But that doesn’t mean the girl wants to have sex – it only means that she wants to be alone with him.
- If a guy spends a lot of money on a date, the girl “owes” him something in return.
People date because they like each other. They want to spend time together. Dating isn’t like a business deal. And sex is not something you pay for. A guy and a girl may have sex after a date. But it should be something they both want to enjoy with each other. (Sex with any individual under 18 years old is considered “statutory rape”, whether consent is given or not, and is against the law.)
- The majority of reported rape incidents are false accusations. What’s to stop a girl changing her mind and saying it’s rape the next day?
It is very difficult for a victim of rape to come forward and report it, so it is extremely unlikely that reports of rape are false. As a matter of fact, FBI statistics say that false reporting of rape is like any other crime, approximately 2-4% of cases.
- If a girl is flirting with a guy, that means she wants to “go all the way.”
Everybody likes to flirt. Half the fun of a date is flirting. And the reason you date is to see if you two like each other. But deciding whether you’ll have sex or not requires consent by both people. Consent is defined by the law as an agreement made without pressure, manipulation or intimidation. Otherwise, it’s rape.