Are you in need of help?
National Sexual Assault Hotline (800) 646-4673
What is Sexual Assault?
The term sexual assault refers to any type of sexual contact or behavior that is unwanted by the recipient.
Sexual assault happens when a person is forced, coerced, or manipulated into having unwanted sexual activity.
If you or someone you know has experienced this, it is not your fault.
Who does it affect?
Everybody. Whether you or someone you know are a survivor or not, sexual assault affects us all. We all deserve to live, work, and play in homes and communities free of sexual violence, assault, and harassment.
When one person experiences sexual assault, we all experience the suffering of that person in direct and indirect ways. If one person gets away with sexual violence, it leads to a culture where sexual violence is normalized.
Sexual assault happens to people of all races, gender identities, and ages. 1 in 3 women are survivors of sexual assault. 1 in 4 men are survivors of sexual assault. 50% of transgender people report experiencing sexual assault in their lifetime.
Forms of Sexual Assault?
Sexual assault can be classified as:
- Unwanted oral, vaginal, or anal penetration
- Any unwanted sexual activity or behavior that is obtained through force, coercion, or manipulation
Even if a survivor does not say, “no” or fight the acts at the time, it does not mean consent.
Trauma manifests differently in each person, and some people experience effects for the rest of their life while others report that it becomes less debilitating over time.
Some physical concerns related to sexual violence are:
- unwanted pregnancy
- Sexually Transmitted Infections
- Urinary Tract Infections
- Broken bones and physical injuries
- pelvic pain
- trouble walking
Mental effects of sexual violence:
- dissociation or not feeling present in everyday activities
- hypervigilance or independence
- social withdrawing
- depression and lack of interest in activities formerly interesting
- suicidal ideation or thoughts of self harm – if you or someone you know is experiencing this, call 911 or The National Suicide Prevention Hotline at (800) 273-8255
Other symptoms experienced by survivors:
- blame or anger
- self blame for “allowing” it to happen or that it is their fault that it happened
- trust changes or feeling “closed off”
- emotionally numb or distant
- self critical
- substance abuse
- suicide risk
- eating disorder
- job loss
- lack of support
3 out of 4 sexual assaults go unreported
Why is it important to raise awareness?
It is important to raise awareness about sexual assault and sexual violence because it has become an epidemic. It affects individuals first, but families, communities, nations, and the world too.
Statistically, it is likely that everyone knows at least one person who has been or will become a survivor of sexual assault and violence.
Sexual assault is preventable. It involves education, awareness, and resources for people to seek help related to anger, control, and power struggles.
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