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
- 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.
Where can I get help?
- Rainn: Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network
- NSVRC: National Sexual Violence Resource Center
- SARC: Sexual Assault Resource Center
- Not Alone
- For international and local help, see the footer at the bottom of the page.
I WANT TO VOLUNTEER.
Wonderful! There are many ways you can volunteer for Honey. First, fill out our volunteer application here. Once this is complete, we will email you to move forward.
I'M A SURVIVOR OF SEXUAL ASSAULT. HOW CAN I GET INVOLVED?
Thank you for raising your voice. There are a number of options available to anyone interested in being a part of Honey. These include recording your Truth to be featured on our Truths page, having your portrait taken to be included in our media campaigns, and participating in community outreach events. Email us at [email protected] to chat about options. You can also follow us on Facebook and Instagram for updates!
I'M A SURVIVOR OF SEXUAL ASSAULT, BUT DO NOT WANT TO SPEAK PUBLICLY ABOUT IT. HOW CAN I HELP?
We also promise to always acknowledge, respect, and observe individual situations, wishes, and confidentiality requests and we commend you for coming forward. Depending on what feels right to you, we have a number of options available. Email us at [email protected] to chat more about ways you can get involved. You can also follow us on Facebook and Instagram for updates!
I HAVE NOT BEEN SEXUALLY ASSAULTED, BUT WANT TO GET INVOLVED. HOW CAN I HELP?
Thank you for your support! There are a number of options available to anyone interested in being a part of Honey, whether or not you have personally experienced assault. We welcome anyone with interest in helping to stop the silence around one of the most underreported crimes in the world. Options include having a writing piece featured on our blog, having your portrait taken to be included in our media campaigns, and participating in community outreach events. Email us at [email protected] to chat about options. You can also follow us on Facebook and Instagram for updates!