YOU ARE BRAVE

Here you will find a list of frequently asked questions and resources that can help survivors and their loved ones—whether that be immediately or years after sexual trauma occurs. These are trusted resources, and are always available for you to use. Seeking help is nothing short of brave, and we applaud you for exploring options that can lead to healing.

 
 
 

WHAT IS SEXUAL ASSAULT?

Sexual assault is a general term that includes any forced or unwanted sexual activity, including rape, incest, sexual abuse, and molestation. Sexual assault includes any forced or unwanted touching of an intimate part of the body, such as breasts, buttocks, or genitals.

Sexual violence includes sexual assault and is defined as any sexual act, attempt to obtain a sexual act, unwanted sexual comments or advances, or acts to traffic, or otherwise directed, against a person’s sexuality using coercion, by any person regardless of their relationship to the victim, in any setting. Coercion can cover a whole spectrum of degrees of force. Apart from physical force, it may involve psychological intimidation, blackmail or other threats. It may also occur when the person aggressed is unable to give consent—for instance, while drunk, drugged, asleep or mentally incapable of understanding the situation.

Rape is defined as physically forced or otherwise coerced penetration—even if slight—of the vulva, anus or mouth using a penis, other body parts or an object. The attempt to do so is known as attempted rape. Rape of a person by two or more perpetrators is known as gang rape.

In many countries a substantial proportion of women experiencing physical violence also experience sexual abuse.

A wide range of sexually violent acts can take place in different circumstances and settings. These include:

  • rape within marriage or dating relationships

  • rape by strangers

  • systematic rape during armed conflict

  • unwanted sexual advances or sexual harassment, including demanding sex in return for favors

  • sexual abuse of mentally or physically disabled people

  • elder abuse

  • sexual abuse of children

  • forced marriage or cohabitation, including the marriage of children

  • denial of the right to use contraception or to adopt other measures to protect against sexually transmitted diseases

  • forced abortion

  • violent acts against the sexual integrity of women, including female genital mutilation and obligatory inspections for virginity

  • forced prostitution and trafficking of people for the purpose of sexual exploitation

Sexual assault, in any form, is not a crime of passion but a crime of violence, using sex as a weapon to overpower and to degrade the victim. A rapist can be a stranger or someone the victim knows including a spouse, date, or family member.
 

WHAT IS CONSENT?

Consent is when someone agrees, gives permission, or says "yes" to sexual activity with other persons. Consent is always freely given and all people in a sexual situation must feel that they are able to say "yes" or "no" or stop the sexual activity at any point. Consent should not be assumed and is not determined by body language or appearance, dating relationships or previous sexual activity, marriage, silence or immobility, or incapacitation. Consent must be voluntarily given and may not be valid if a person is being subjected to actions or behaviors that elicit emotional or psychological pressure, intimidation, or fear.

Learn more here.
 

WHAT EFFECTS CAN ASSAULT HAVE ON A SURVIVOR?

  • sexually transmitted diseases

  • post traumatic stress disorder

  • depression

  • psychiatric disorders

  • promiscuity as a means of coping

  • difficulty sleeping

  • somatic complaints

  • aggressive behavior (theft, truancy, etc.)

  • suicidal thoughts/behavior

  • social ostracization

  • sexual and reproductive health complications

If someone in your life has experienced sexual assault: 

  • Remember that that individual has been through an emotionally painful, traumatic experience. It is possible that they may act differently after the assault.

  • Be patient and understanding. The trauma of a sexual assault does not go away quickly. It will likely take time for the individual to recover. Sometimes friends and family members expect sexual assault victims to be “over it” in a few weeks. Understand that the pain the victim feels, and the symptoms, may last for a long time.

Learn more about ways to talk with and empower survivors here.
 

WAS I RAPED?

RAINN, or the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, is an award-winning organization and resource focused on the subject of sexual violence and assault. Visit their page here to get answers to common questions around assault. If you have been raped or sexually assaulted, or even if you aren't sure, contact the National Sexual Assault Online Hotline here or the National Sexual Assault Hotline (1-800-656-HOPE) for free, confidential help, day or night.

 

RESOURCES

 

Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (rainn)

RAINN is the United States' largest anti-sexual violence organization. Get confidential help 24/7 from RAINN's trained staff:

  • Call the National Sexual Assault Hotline to get confidential support from a trained staff member at 1-800-656-HOPE.

  • Receive one-on-one crisis support via RAINN's online chat feature by clicking the "Chat Now" box below.

 

National Suicide Prevention

If you or someone you know is suicidal and/or having suicidal ideations, get help from the National Suicide Prevention Hotline:

  • Call the hotline to be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area, anytime 24/7 at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). 

  • Chat a specialist who will listen and provide support for you during whatever difficult times you may be facing by clicking the box below. 

 

National Eating Disorder Association

NEDA can provide help if you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder:

  • Call NEDA's toll free, confidential Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

  • For crisis situations, text "NEDA" to 741741 to be connected with a trained volunteer at Crisis Text Line. Get help via text 24 hours a day.

  • Chat a Helpline volunteer who can offer support and guidance with compassion and understanding by clicking the box below.

 

The Anti-Violence Project (LGBTQ)

The Anti-Violence Project empowers lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and HIV-affected communities. If you or someone you know identifies with one of these and needs support, the Anti-Violence Project wants you to know you are not alone, and they can provide you with help and support:

  • Call AVP's free, confidential hotline to get support at 1-212-714-1141.

 

Love Is Respect (Dating Violence)

Loveisrespect's mission is to engage, educate, and empower young people to prevent and end abusive relationships. If you or someone you know is experiencing dating violence:

  • Call 1-866-331-9474 to talk to a peer advocate who can offer support.

  • Text "loveis" to 22522 to talk to a peer advocate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

  • Chat a peer advocate by clicking the box below.

 

1 in 6 (Male Survivors)

The mission of 1 in 6 is to help men who have had unwanted or abusive sexual experiences during their childhood live healthier, happier lives. These resources are available to survivors, and their partners, friends, and family members:

  • Confidentially chat one-on-one with a trained advocate 24/7.

  • Anonymously chat in a support group facilitated by a professional counselor.