The term sexual assault refers to sexual contact or behavior that occurs without clear consent of the victim. Some types of sexual assault are: attempted rape, fondling or unwanted sexual touching, forcing a victim to perform sexual acts, and rape. Force doesn’t always refer to physical pressure. Perpetrators may use emotional or psychological coercion or manipulation to pressure a victim into non-consensual sex. Some perpetrators will use threats to force a victim to comply, such as threatening to hurt the victim or their family. It’s important to remember that dating, instances of past intimacy, or other acts like kissing do not give someone consent for increased or continued sexual contact.
Most perpetrators of sexual assault are someone the victim knowns, like an intimate partner, a date, a classmate, a neighbor, a family member, or many other different roles. In other cases, the victim may not know the perpetrator at all.
Nearly 1 in 2 women and 1 in 5 men have experienced some form of sexual assault. These assaults can affect all parts of a survivor’s life, including their financial stability, education, housing, employment, immigration status, and family. Further, many survivors struggle with long-term mental health issues that can lead to quitting their jobs, dropping out of school, and disconnecting from vital support systems.