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About Sexual Assault

The trauma caused by sexual abuse is more than physical. It is emotional, mental and psychological. It is permanent and it is real. It’s a violation of your emotional and mental safety and well-being. Its normal to feel alone, ashamed, embarrassed and confused.

But, you are never alone and it is not your fault.

What happens to victims is an incredibly personal violation that creates a flood of overwhelming emotions. Emotions that many are not comfortable sharing. We understand. We are here to listen to your story when you are ready to tell someone, and we will guide you through it. Melissa and her team understand the trauma caused by sexual assault. We are here to LISTEN to you and we will BELIEVE you.

Types of Sexual Violence

According to the United States Department of Justice, sexual assault is “any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient.” The legal definition of sexual assault varies from state to state. Click here for information about the sexual assault laws in your state. Sexual assault comes in many different forms – from sexual taunting and harassment to rape.

Some examples of sexual assault include, but are not limited to:

  1. Sexual Coercion: making someone feel obligated to have sex by using guilt, pressure, drugs/alcohol or force
  2. Drug-facilitated Sexual Assault: often associated with the use of date rape drugs or when ability to consent is compromised due to drugs or alcohol whether consumption was voluntary or not
  3. Sexual shaming among kids and teens: bullying in a sexual nature. These instances often occur in schools, athletic locker rooms, or among teammates.
  4. Stalking: pattern of repeated harassment, unwanted contact and attention. Can include repeated unwanted calls, emails, messages, gifts, etc. Some states that specifically allow civil lawsuits for stalking: CA, AR, KY, MI, NE, OR, RI, SD, TN, TX, VA, WA, WY
  5. Groping: unwanted touching and fondling of another person’s body parts
  6. Rape: penetration without consent
  7. Intimate partner Violence: a.k.a. spousal rape, marital rape, etc.: wide range of violence from physical abuse to rape. A 2007 study showed that most women who were physically abused by their partner have also been sexually assaulted by that same partner.
  8. Child sexual abuse: ANY sexual activity between a child/adolescent and an adult with or without sexual touching. Include forcing child to touch themselves, exposing self to child, viewing or violating private behaviors of a child or teen, taking or showing explicit photos of a child or teen.
  9. Incest: any sexual contact between two family members that wouldn’t be legally allowed to marry
  10. Elderly sexual assault: when perpetrator engages in sexual activity without the others consent. Often occurs when the elder was unable to provide consent due to medical condition, like dementia or Alzheimer’s, and perpetrated by a loved one or caretake, person in a position of power.
  11. Prisoner Rape: typically, the perpetrator is another inmate, guard, or staff in a position of power over the inmate
  12. Multiple perpetrator assault: commonly called “gang rape.” Can start out as consensual act between 2 partners, but then others join without one partner’s consent. Can be used as form of initiation into a group (e.g. gang, club, etc.).

What is Consent?

There is no one legal definition for consent because each state has its own laws that determine how consent is defined. However, there are three main ways that states analyze consent in relation to sexual acts:

  1. Affirmative consent:
    Did the person express overt actions or words indicating agreement for sexual acts?
  2. Freely given consent:
    Was the consent offered of the person’s own free will, without being induced by fraud, coercion, violence, or threat of violence?
  3. Capacity:
    Did the individual have the capacity, or legal ability, to consent?

The capacity to consent takes the following, among other things, into consideration:

  1. Age: Is the person at or above the age of consent for that state? Does the age difference between the perpetrator and victim affect the age of consent in that state?
  2. Disability: Of course, most people with disabilities are just as capable of consenting to sexual activity as people without disabilities, but understanding someone’s disability is key to obtaining consent. Does the person have a developmental or cognitive disability, such as a traumatic brain injury, which may inhibit their decision-making capacity at that time?
  3. Intoxication: Was the person intoxicated? Different states have different definitions of intoxication, and in some states, it matters whether you voluntarily or involuntarily became intoxicated.
  4. Relationship of victim/perpetrator: Was the alleged perpetrator in a position of authority, such as such as a boss, teacher, doctor, care-giver, or correctional officer?
  5. Unconsciousness: Was the person sleeping, sedated, strangulated, or suffering from physical trauma/illness?
  6. Vulnerable adults: Is the person considered a vulnerable adult, such as an elderly or ill person? Is this adult dependent on others for care?

Consent is an active, sober, verbally and/or physically communicated yes – not the absence of no.

Where Do Assaults Happen?

Common places where sexual assault is reported:

  • College campuses
  • Doctors Offices
  • Military
  • Public places with poor lighting
  • Hospitals
  • Public bars
  • Hotels
  • Schools
  • Child Care facilities
  • Nursing homes
  • Camps
  • Foster care
  • Youth Sports
  • Intercollegiate Sports
  1. College campuses
  2. Doctors Offices
  3. Military
  4. Public places with poor lighting
  5. Hospitals
  6. Public bars
  7. Hotels
  8. Schools
  9. Child Care facilities
  10. Nursing homes
  11. Camps
  12. Foster care
  13. Youth Sports
  14. Intercollegiate Sports

Sexual Assault Statistics

  1. One in three girls and one in five boys will be sexually assaulted by the age of 16.
  2. 1 out of every 3 American women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime.
  3. 1 in 7 women who are married to men will be raped by her husband.
  4. 6 out of 10 rapes/sexual assaults occurred in the homes of the victim, family members, or friends.
  5. 1,871 rapes occur per day in America.
  6. 3 women in the U.S. are raped every minute.
  7. Three out of five rapes happen before age 18.
  8. Three out of ten rapes happen before age 11.
  9. Between 80 – 90% of sexual assault victims knew their attacker.
  10. An American is sexually assaulted every 98 seconds
  11. Ages 12-34 at the highest risk of being sexually assaulted.

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