Forum: Advice / Girls & Guys PG-13

Sexual Assault FAQ (karma: 5)
By MaxwellPremium member
On Sun Apr 26, 2009 04:12 PM
Made sticky by TheMidlakeMuse (78507) on 2009-05-04 18:13:09 This is an important post.

I can't be the only one who has noticed the amount of sexual assault thread that have popped up in the past few days. Because there are often many questions and misconceptions about this issue, I thought I'd right up some of the more common questions about it.

Sources:, an online community dedicated to sexual health and reproductive justice, the website of the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network.

WARNING: Some descriptions of the various types of assault may be disturbing.

Q: What is sexual assault?
A: Any unwanted sexual contact. Sexual assault is a term used to describe many offenses and includes rape, forcible oral sodomy, forcible anal sodomy, unwanted object penetration, and unwanted sexual touching, among others.

Q: What are some types of sexual assault?


EXHIBITIONISM—The act of exposing others to the sight of one's genitalia in a lewd or indecent manner. These offenders are often referred to as "flashers" or "streakers."

FORCIBLE SODOMY—Oral or anal sex without both people's consent.

MOLESTATION—A word that means to annoy or to disturb, but has sexual connotations. Typically refers to a person who sexually assaults children, or someone who is a child molester

RAPE—Any unwanted sexual intercourse. The legal definition usually refers to only heterosexual forced intercourse, but commonly rape is used to refer to any forced sexual act regardless of the offender or the victim's gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation. Rape occurs one person does not freely consent to sexual intercourse.

ACQUAINTANCE RAPE—Any rape where the victim knows the offender. Most studies show that the vast majority of rapes are acquaintance rapes, usually citing between 80-95%, as opposed to stranger rapes. Many people who are raped do not identify their experience as rape due to culture myths on sexual assault. Even if you know the offender, if you are forced to have sex, it is still rape.

DATE RAPE—Any rape where the victim knows the offender in a dating capacity. Even if you were on a date or had sex with them before, if you do not give consent, it is still rape.

DOMESTIC RAPE—A rape where the offender and the victim live together. Marital rape refers to rape where the offender and the victim are legally married. Though laws are changing, the legal system has often been of little protection for domestic partners and spouses who are raped.

GANG RAPE—A rape where there is more than one offender. Gang rapes usually are planned, involve drugs and/or alcohol, and involve physical assault. Gang rapes are often severely underreported to officials.

As a general rule, any time of sexual contact without consent is sexual assault.

Q: What is sexual harrasment?
A: A violation of a person's civil and constitutional rights that can be physical, verbal or non-verbal. It includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment can take the form of gender harassment, seductive behavior, sexual bribery, and sexual coercion or pressure. Sexual harassment can happen in private or public settings, but is often used to refer to the workplace. If you are being sexually harassed, find support and contact a professional or crisis center in your area to find out what steps to take.

Q: Who is at risk for sexual assault?
A: Anybody. It happens to people of all genders, ages, races, ethnicities, backrounds, sexual orientations, etc. The rates of sexual assault are currently highest for college aged women.

Q: Was it sexual assault if it was my boyfriend? Significant other? If I've consented to it before?
A: If you did not give your consent, it was sexual assault, regardless of the circumstances.

Q: Was this my fault?
A: It is never the victim's fault. I cannot stress this enough. It doesn't matter where you were, what you were wearing, what you were drinking, whether you were already fooling around, etc. If you do not consent, you were assaulted.

Q: What if I was drinking? Using drugs? Or otherwise unable to know what was going on?
A: Check your state laws. Different states have different laws regarding consent. However, as a general rule, if you were unconcious during the act, or so drunk or high that you don't know what was going on, you can't consent and were assaulted.

Q: What should I do if I'm sexually assaulted?
A: Find a safe environment - anywhere away from the attacker. Ask a trusted friend to stay with you for moral support.

Know that what happened was not your fault and that now you should do what is best for you.

Report the attack to police by calling 911. If you want more information, a counselor on the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE can help you understand the process.

To preserve evidence of the attack - don't bathe or brush your teeth.

Write down all the details you can recall about the attack & the attacker.

Get medical attention. Even with no physical injuries, it is important to determine the risks of STDs and pregnancy.

To preserve forensic evidence, ask the hospital to conduct a rape kit exam.

If you suspect you may have been drugged, ask that a urine sample be collected. The sample will need to be analyzed later on by a forensic lab.

If you know that you will never report, there are some things you should still consider:
Get medical attention. Even with no physical injuries, it is important to determine the risks of STDs and pregnancy.
Call the National Sexual Assault Hotline, operated by RAINN, for free, confidential counseling, 24 hours a day: 1-800-656-HOPE.

Recognize that healing takes time. Give yourself the time you need.

Know that it's never too late to call. Even if the attack happened years ago, the National Sexual Assault Hotline or the National Sexual Assault Online Hotline can still help. Many victims do not realize they need help until months or years later.

Q: What should I do and not do if someone close to me is sexually assaulted?

Do not deny the assault/abuse—Some survivors are in denial themselves, but it is important to remember that they came to you for help. You may have a hard time believing that the assault or abuse happened. You may want to deny the extent of its impact on the survivor. You may even want to protect the perpetrator. But it is important that you do not deny the survivor. Do not urge a survivor to forget about the incident. Do not ignore the survivor's fears. Do not encourage the survivor to do nothing about the assault. And do not urge the survivor to resume regular activities prematurely.

Do not blame the survivor—Sexual assault and abuse are never the survivor's fault. Do not ask questions like "Why didn't you tell someone?" or "Why were you at that party?" Even asking questions about the specifics of the event(s) can make it seem like you do not believe them. If you find yourself starting to ask a detailed question, think to yourself first, "Am I asking this for the survivor or for myself-do I really need to know this in order to comfort my friend?"

Do not compare situations—Every sexual assault or abuse situation is different. Even if something similar happened to you or someone else you know, do not compare situations. No two people feel the same exact way or will react in the same way. It is important to let the survivor know that she/he is not alone, but do not lessen the importance of the survivor's feelings by comparing them to others.

Believe, comfort and listen to the survivor—Let them tell the story at his/her own pace. Do not rush the survivor to make decisions and allow her/him to decide what steps to take. A survivor of sexual assault or abuse has had power taken away. Allowing them to make even small decisions, like where to talk to you about it or what to have for lunch, can help the survivor to reclaim that power.

Affirm the survivor—Name what happened as wrong. Affirm that it was not the survivor's fault. Just hearing this can be infinitely comforting to the survivor.

Make sure the survivor is safe—Try to reduce fear by providing a feeling of safety at home, at school, at work, etc. If you think that the survivor is in danger from the perpetrator or from her/himself, seek professional help.

Educate yourself on assault/abuse—Learn about the recovery process so that you will know what to expect. Explore the medical and legal options - these differ from place to place. Find out what local resources are available so that you can give them to the survivor if requested.

Get help for yourself—The emotions of being a secondary survivor can be overwhelming. If your feelings become too intense, the survivor may begin to comfort you. Find someone that you can talk to, without compromising the survivor's privacy. Consider joining a support group. If you are a survivor as well this may bring up latent feelings for you. It is important that you deal with these. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) to find support in your area.

Q: What can sexual assault cause?
A: There are many negative effects of sexual assault, including boderline personality disorder, depression, dissacociative identiy disorder, flashbacks, post-traumatic stress disorder, unwanted pregnancy, rape trauma syndrom, STDs, suicide, etc. Seek help if you suffer from any of these.

Q: Where can I go for help?
A: There are many organizations you can turn to: The Rape, Abuse, And Incest National Network. They have an online hotline on there website, and their telephone hotline is 1-800-656-HOPE.

My Sister's Place is a shelter for battered women and their children in Washington, DC. My Sister's Place produced most of the dating violence materials on this site, and also offers a 24 hour crisis hotline at 202-529-5991.

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE or 1-800-787-3224 from a TTY for local resources and confidential counseling.

The National Organization on Male Sexual Victimization:

Gay Domestic Violence Agencies:
Boston: 617-497-7317
New York: 212-714-1184
San Francisco: 415-333-HELP

National Anti-Violence Prevention Hotline: 1-800-616-HATE

Crisis Intervention Center Hotline: 1-800-999-9999

If anyone else has any questions or facts to share, I will gladly put them in the FAQ.

Thanks for reading!

6 Replies to Sexual Assault FAQ

re: Sexual Assault FAQ
By CaitDestinymember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Mon May 04, 2009 03:31 PM
Thank you for posting this. Karma for you.

For as much posts as I've seen around, it seems like sexual assault is more common now then ever.

Again, hopefully this will answer all the questions that need to be answered, and people will learn facts that need to be known aswell.

Maybe even in some cases report.
re: Sexual Assault FAQ
By MaxwellPremium member
On Mon Aug 03, 2009 09:25 AM
So, in the past couple of weeks, I've noticed some stuff along the lines of this subject come up, and I feel there are some things that need to be addressed/re-addressed in more detail.

So, consider this the:

Sexual Assault FAQ, Part Deux

1. I should have been a little more clear about the drunk/high/unconscious thing. If you are drunk, high, unconscious, or otherwise physically unaware of your surrondings and lacking normal human rationality, and a sober person has sex with you, you were raped. When you are d/h/u/etc, you are unable to consent, in the same way that a nine-year-old is unable to consent. You can give a resounding "yes!", but you don't currently have enough rationality to make an informed consent.

I know the above situation has happened to some people and they were not disturbed by it at all-it was just ordinary sex to them. I'm not going to tell anyone how to live their lives, so I'm not saying you have to report it, take it seriously, or act like it was anything but ordinary sex, but, legally, you have the right to file rape charges. And should if you have a desire to.

2. I just wanted to affirm again that No matter what anyone, anywhere tells you, being sexually assaulted is 100% not your fault. It DOES NOT MATTER where you were, what you were drinking, what you were wearing, or how you were acting.

3. I don't see this *too much* on DDN, but seriously, sexual assault jokes are just plain offensive. They aren't okay in certain contexts, they aren't "dark humor" or whatever you want to call it, they are seriously offensive and triggering to survivors. Saying that a test, a competition, whatever was so hard it "raped" you? Triggering. Acting like pedophiles and stalkers for laughs? Triggering. Just some more examples of things you shouldn't do to offend survivors.
re: Sexual Assault FAQ
By justclog
On Tue Aug 25, 2009 09:58 PM
Is there a difference between harassment and assault? also is sexual abuse different from sexual harassment and if so in what ways? Thanks [:-)]
re: Sexual Assault FAQ
By iDancer518member has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Wed Aug 26, 2009 06:48 AM
Thank you. I truly appreciate this post because I have also noticed the rising amount of sexual assault posts on DDN.

This will help a lot of people to better understand what assault is and how to deal with it.
re: Sexual Assault FAQ
By MaxwellPremium member
On Tue Sep 01, 2009 02:59 PM
Is there a difference between harassment and assault?

Sexual harassment is an umbrella term that includes sexual assault. Sexual assault means that there was some kind of contact, whether it be rape, molestation, forcible sodomy, etc. Sexual harassment also includes unwanted advances, voyeurism, exhibitionism, etc.

is sexual abuse different from sexual harassment and if so in what ways?

Abuse is another term for assault/harassment, but it usually implies that the perpetrator and the victim are in some kind of established relationship, usually family.
re: Sexual Assault FAQ
By cheekychesca
On Fri Nov 11, 2011 05:39 PM
wow this is very helpfull. sexual assualts are so hard to move on from especially if the person is still there around you constantly. This is really motivating. thankyou!


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