Here are a few important facts that you should know about sexual assault:
- Many different people are affected by rape or sexual assault. Victims of sexual assault include women and men, young and old, rich and poor, heterosexuals and homosexuals, persons with disabilities, persons from all racial and ethnic backgrounds, and persons who are homeless, in hospitals or in prisons. Sexual assault can happen to anyone, no matter what her or his background or situation.
- Sexual assaults occur in many different types of situations. No matter what– it is never the victim’s fault that the assault happened– never. Someone may decide to leave their window open on a summer night, go for a walk alone, get drunk at a party, go home with a person they just met, or sa no to their date or their husband about sex. None of these actions or decisions gives anyone the right to take advantage of another person. The victim did not cause this to happen by anything she did or said.
- Everyone deserves to have support after a sexual assault. No one should have to deal with this alone. There are many resources and people who want to help. RCASA offers a hotline (24 hours a day/7days a week) that you can call at anytime for information, referrals and support! The hotline phone number is (540) 371-1666. Also go to www.rcasa.org for more info. Another great resource is www.rainn.org.
- Survivors of sexual assault should be treated with respect when trying to get help. All sexual assault victims have the right to be treated with respect and to be informed about their choices in medical care, the court system, their legal rights, and counseling options.
Understanding more about sexual assault survivors
Most sexual assault survivors
- Know the person who raped them
- Do not report the crime to the police
- Do not seek medical care after the rape
- Feel shame or blame themselves in some way for what happened
- Feel betrayed if the sexual offender was someone they trusted
- Experience some immediate, short-term psychological effects
Some sexual assault survivors:
- Are raped by someone they love (their spouse, their father, their brother, their boyfriend…)
- Are raped by someone they trusted (their teacher, their priest, their coach, their doctor…)
- Develop clinical depression or post-traumatic stress disorder
- Have suicidal feelings resulting from the trauma and the aftermath
- Do not seek counseling until years after the sexual assault
- Experience long term psychological, physical and interpersonal effects from the trauma
- Report being hit, slapped, shoved or forced into sexual activity by a dating partner (Twenty percent of girls ages 14-18 have experienced this type of abuse, National Center for Victims of Crime, 2002)
- Are drugged or under the influence of alcohol at the time of the rape
- Become infected with a sexually transmitted disease from the sexual assault
Very few sexual assault survivors
- Are physically beaten or tortured during the sexual assault
- Become pregnant from the rape
- Develop HIV as a result of the rape
- Will have their case go to trial
- Will see their rapist convicted or serve time in prison
- Tell no one about what happened
Note: Every rape survivor and their situation are unique. These points are a general guide about sexual victimization to dispel misconceptions. The information is based on current, available research on rape.
Defining Sexual Assault: Some of the different types of sexual victimization
Invasions of space and privacy:
- Stalking (watching or following someone and their activities)
- Voyeurism (watching someone undress, have sex…)
- Flashing (exposing one’s genitals in public on purpose)
- Masturbation in public (to shock or surprise the victim)
- Sexual jokes, degrading sexual remarks, or sexual name-calling
- Obscene phone calls, e-mail messages or faxes
- Posting or sharing sexual pictures (or videos) of someone on the Internet or with others
Other unwanted sexual or physical contact
- Grabbing or touching the breasts, vagina, penis or buttocks over the clothes or rubbing against another person with the genitals.
Unwanted sexual touching without penetration
- Touching breasts, vagina, penis or rectum with an object or a part of the body, such as a finger or tongue.
- Any type of forced or coerced oral, anal or vaginal penetration with an object or another body part.
- An adult having sexual contact with a minor (under the state’s legal age of consent) even if both people “agree” to have sex.
- Cutting, burning, piercing, or any injury to someone’s breasts, vagina, penis or rectum.
- Sexual contact between family members not married to each other.
Remember that sexual assault is never the victim’s fault.
— Information taken from RCASA’s “Coping with Sexual Assault: A Guide for Professionals and Volunteers Who Work with Victims of Sexual Assault”
Please visit RCASA at www.rcasa.org or call the RCASA hotline (24 hours a day/7 days a week) at (540)371-5502. We are here to help!
“Coping with Sexual Assault: A Guide for Professionals and Volunteers Working with Sexual Assault Victims” copyrighted by Sugati Publications at www.SugatiPublications.com