Was it Rape?
"Rape" and "sexual assault" are terms used interchangeably to describe crimes that involve unwanted and illegal sexual acts. The legal definitions of rape and sexual assault vary from state to state. Most commonly, a rape involves the use or threat of force to penetrate a victim's vagina, mouth, or anus. A sexual assault involves the use or threat of force but may not involve penetration. An example of sexual assault is fondling someone's breast without consent.
Some people think that you cannot be forced to have sex against your will. The truth is that you can be forced through coercion, manipulation, physical force or even threat of injury or death.
Consent means total agreement. Consent is based on choice and is only possible when each party treats the other as equal. It is not cooperation.
No means no!
Fearing serious injury or death during a rape, many victims do not resist the attack and do not sustain any bruises, marks, or other visible physical injuries. You cannot always tell someone has been raped just by looking at them.
"But I'm Always Careful"
Many assumptions people make about sexual assault and rape are not true. Some people think that if sexual assault happens you must have done something to bring it on or "asked for it." Remember: you have the right to say "no" at any time to any sexual act. NO MEANS NO. Power, anger and control are the motives for rape - not sex.
Some people think that you can be raped or sexually assaulted only by strangers. The truth is approximately 80% of victims know their attacker. Rape by someone you know is still rape, and it is still a crime.
People also think that most rapes occur on a street in an alley. According to the most recent Rape Crisis Service statistics, approximately 65% of the sexual assaults happened in their own home or someone else’s home.
Who Gets Sexually Assaulted?
Some people think that you will be raped or sexually assaulted if you act or dress in a certain way or go to certain places. This is not true. Anyone can be a victim. Sexual assault doesn’t discriminate by age, racial or cultural background, level of education or by how much money you make.
Sometimes sexual assault or abuse becomes part of an unhealthy relationship. Whenever anyone coerces another to have sex against her or his will, it is rape, regardless of any prior or current relationship.
Women are not the only ones who can be raped. Men and children can be victims as well. A rapist does not always have to be a man.
What is Sexual Harassment?
Sexual harassment involves unwelcomed sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, especially when:
- You are expected to accept the harassment to get or keep a job, a promotion, or a grade.
- The harassment interferes with your work performance.
- The harassment creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment.
Sexual harassment often results from the behavior of someone who has obvious power over you. This person might be an employer, a supervisor, or a teacher. Sexual harassment is an abuse of power.
Co-workers, fellow students, and even people on the street can also be guilty of sexual harassment, even though they may have no particular power over you.
Are My Feelings Normal?
Victims react differently to the trauma of sexual assault. There are, however, some common reactions that individuals experience during the "aftermath." People who are sexually assaulted may be afraid that resisting or reporting the incident(s) will result in further attacks or consequences. Other common reactions are:
- Lack of trust
Remember that healing is a process. It will take time and it's never too late to call.
The Rape Crisis Service of Planned Parenthood is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All services are free and confidential. We are here to provide support to you, your family, and your friends.
E-mail us or call us at one of the numbers below to schedule an appointment or to discuss whether short-term counseling is right for you.
|Monroe Co. NY:||(585) 546-2777|
Livingston, Wyoming Co. NY:
|Elsewhere in the US:||1-800-656-4673|