Sexual violence is any unwanted sexual contact - when consent is not obtained, or not freely given.
Sexual Violence Encompasses a
Range of Offenses
Sexual violence encompasses a range of offenses, including a completed nonconsensual sex act also known as rape, an attempted nonconsensual sex act, abusive sexual contact or unwanted touching, and non-contact sexual abuse such as threatened sexual violence, exhibitionism, or verbal sexual harassment.
All types of sexual violence involve victims who do not consent, or who are unable to consent or refuse to allow the act. Sexual violence impacts every community and people of all genders, sexual orientations, and ages.
Sexual assault involves sexual intercourse or sexual intrusion without consent and is the most underreported crime in the United States.
Some types of sexual acts which fall under the category of sexual assault include forced sexual intercourse (rape), sodomy (oral or anal sexual acts), incest, and attempted rape.
Sexual Assault is a Crime
Sexual assault in any form is often a devastating crime. Sex without consent is rape. Rape can happen to anyone at any age, at any place, at any time. Offenders can be strangers, acquaintances, friends, or family members. Offenders commit sexual assault through violence, threats, coercion, manipulation, and pressure.
Crime of Violence and Power
Rape is a crime of violence and power. It is caused by an urge to control another human being in the most personal way. It is not caused by uncontrollable sexual desire. Most rapes are planned in advance. Rapists surprise victims by catching them off guard, by manipulating or drugging them, by taking advantage of their daily activities or by lying. What a person is wearing or doing does not cause rape. Few convicted rapists even remember how the victim was dressed or what the victim looked like.
Sexual Assault and
Sexual violence can have psychological and physical effects on a survivor. Talking to an advocate can help victims make informed decisions, determine their next steps, and begin the healing process.
Sexual Assault is never the victim's fault. It is a crime, no matter who commits it or where it happens.
What To Do if You Are a Victim of Sexual Violence
Go to a safe place. Call 911.
Talk to someone you trust.
Preserve any evidence. DO NOT shower, bathe, wash, douche, change clothes, or go to the bathroom until you have been examined medically. Doing so may alter valuable evidence that could be used if the case is prosecuted.
Got to the nearest hospital emergency room for assistance and treatment. Ask for an advocate from S.A.F.E. who can provide support and information.
Have a forensic medical exam to preserve evidence. If you are 18 years of age or older, you may choose NOT to report the crime and involve law enforcement.
If you choose not to report the crime, the evidence can be collected and stored as a non-reported case at Marshall University Forensic Science Center. A rape crisis center advocate can explain your options and how to initiate an investigation at a later time.
Whether or not you report the sexual assault to law enforcement, seek medical attention as soon as possible, if needed. Medical staff can provide preventive treatments and address any concerns regarding sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.
Seek counseling and ongoing support. Plan for your ongoing safety. Rape crisis centers can provide referral information and confidential services
Source: West Virginia Foundation of Rape Information and Services | www.fris.org