Sexual assault is any sexual act done against your will, without your consent, or when you are unable to freely give consent. A sexual assault may include the use of physical force, threats, or intimidation. Sexual assault is a crime.
Sexual assault takes many forms. It is any unwanted sexual contact or attention achieved by force, threats, bribes, manipulation, pressure, tricks or violence. Sexual assault may be physical or nonphysical and can include sexual harassment, flashing, voyeurism, fondling, attempted rape or rape. Sexual assault is not about sex, but about the perpetrator gaining power and control over their victim. Anyone can become a victim of sexual assault. Sexual assault is a crime that is more often committed by acquaintances, friends and relatives.
Sexual Assault can have long lasting effects on victims and families. It is a life-altering event. Many victims fear they will be killed or permanently disfigured during a sexual assault, even if such acts are not threatened. Perpetrators will use whatever level of violence necessary to achieve their goal.
As a survivor of sexual assault you may find yourself having some of the following feelings and reactions:
- Self-blame and doubt
- Suicidal thoughts
- Not being able to concentrate
- Thinking or talking about the assault constantly
- Not wanting to think about it or talk about it at all
- Re-living the experience through nightmares and flashbacks
- Trying to forget and live as though it never happened
- Being easily startled or jittery
- Not sleeping or sleeping too much
- Not eating or eating too much
- Increased use of drugs and/or alcohol
- Trying to figure out how it could have been prevented or stopped
These are all common. You are not to blame for what happened. You are alive, you are a survivor and now your journey is the process of recovery. Reaching out for support is part of the healing process.
You may be wondering why this happened to you? Why would a person assault another person in this way? Why was I victimized? It is normal to want to find a reason why this has happened.
Common Concerns of Survivors
- Family and friends finding out
- Being blamed for the assault
- Name being made public in the media
- Contracting a sexually transmitted disease
- Contracting HIV/AIDS
- Being pregnant
There is nothing you can do to guarantee you will never be sexually assaulted. For some harm reduction tips to help reduce the risks, click here.