The most important thing to know about sexual assault is this: the victim is NEVER at fault. It is NEVER YOUR 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:
- Penetration of the victim’s body, also known as rape
- Attempted rape
- Forcing a victim to perform sexual acts, such as oral sex or penetrating the perpetrator’s body
- Fondling or unwanted sexual touching
The issue, or more accurately, the crime of sexual assault is part of a larger societal issue of sexual violence which is centered around a multi-layered oppression that is influenced by other forms of oppression such as sexism, racism, heterosexism, ableism, classism, etc. Sexual violence occurs on a continuum of beliefs and social norms ranging from sexist jokes, to sexual harassment; all the way along the continuum to rape/murder.
Who are the victims of sexual assault?
Anyone can be a victim of sexual assault regardless of gender, race, age, religion, ability, sexual orientation, etc. While most victims are women—it is estimated that 1 in 5 women in the United States have been raped at some time in their lives, it can and does happen to men, with estimates of 1 in 33 men having experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime.
Who are the perpetrators of sexual assault?
Many people think of rape and sexual assault as occurring at the hands of a stranger, at night, in a secluded area. While this may be the case in some instances, most sexual assaults are committed by someone the victim knows. For juvenile victims, it is estimated that 93% knew their perpetrator. As an adult victim, it is estimated between 84%-90% knew their perpetrators. It is extremely important to recognize that dating, flirting, or past intimacy DOES NOT give someone consent to continue or increase sexual activity. Marriage or a relationship with a significant other does not grant the right to demand or force sex or any type of sexual acts without consent from your spouse or partner.
For more information regarding sexual assault laws in the state of Indiana, review our section on Indiana sexual violence laws. You can also visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network and WomensHealth.gov.