Rape Crisis Center
What is sexual violence?
Sexual violence is any type of unwanted sexual contact. This can include words and actions of a sexual nature against a person’s will and without their consent. Consent is voluntary, mutual, and can be withdrawn at any time. Reasons someone might not consent include fear, age, illness, disability, and/or influence of alcohol or other drugs. A person may use force, threats, manipulation, or coercion to commit sexual violence. Anyone can experience sexual violence, including children, teens, adults, and elders. Those who sexually abuse can be acquaintances, family members, trusted individuals, or strangers.
Forms of sexual violence
- Rape or sexual assault
- Child sexual assault and incest
- Sexual assault by a person’s spouse or partner
- Unwanted sexual contact/touching
- Sexual harassment
- Sexual exploitation and trafficking
- Exposing one’s genitals or naked body to other(s) without consent
- Masturbating in public
- Watching someone in private acts without their knowledge or permission
Victims are never at fault.
It doesn’t matter what someone is wearing or how they are acting, victims are never to blame. A person may use force, threats, manipulation, or coercion to commit sexual violence. An absence of injuries to the victim does not indicate consent.
There are many reasons why someone may choose not to report to law enforcement or tell anyone about an experience. Some include:
- Concern about not being believed
- Fear of the attackers getting back at them
- Shame or fear of being blamed
- Pressure from others not to tell
- Distrust of law enforcement
- Belief that there is not enough evidence
- Desire to protect the attacker
Sexual Assault Awareness Month Fact Sheet, NSVRC, 2016