What is sexual assault?
Sexual assault is any unwanted sexual experience. This includes unwanted touching of body parts or genitals, unwelcome sexual advances, and unwanted sexual intercourse or sexual acts to which you did not consent.
The majority of sexual assaults are committed by someone the victim knows, such as a friend, family member, acquaintance or partner.
What is consent?
- Explicitly agreeing to sexual activities, either by saying “yes” or another affirmative statement, like “I’m open to trying.”
- Using physical cues to let the other person know you’re comfortable taking things to the next level.
What is not consent?
- Refusing to acknowledge “no”.
- Assuming that wearing certain clothes, flirting, or kissing is an invitation for anything more.
- Assuming you have permission to engage in a sexual act because you’ve done it in the past.
Warning Signs of Sexual Assault
- Withdrawing from other relationships or activity.
- Saying that their partner doesn’t want them to talk to certain people or engage in social activities.
- Saying their partner doesn’t want them to use certain safe sex contraceptive methods.
- Mentioning their partner is pressuring them to do things that make them uncomfortable.
Perpetrators of sexual assault often try to cut their victims off from their support system. Therefore, it’s important to know what some of the signs of sexual assault are, so you can help someone who may not be able to help themself.
What is domestic violence?
Domestic violence (also called intimate partner violence (IPV), domestic abuse or relationship abuse) is a pattern of behaviors used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship.
Examples of domestic violence
Physical abuse – The intentional use of physical force with intent to harm
Emotional abuse – Behaviors that harm your self-worth or emotional well-being.
Sexual abuse and coercion – Even if your partner isn’t forcing you to do sexual acts against your will, being made to feel obligated is coercion in itself.
Reproductive coercion – A form of power and control where one partner strips the other of the ability to control their own reproductive system.
Financial abuse – When an abusive partner extends their power and control into the area of finances.
Digital abuse – The use of technologies such as texting and social networking to bully, harass, stalk or intimidate a partner.
Preventing Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence
If someone you know is abusive or disrespectful, don’t ignore it. Reach out to a person or organization you trust to help you. Support is critical in combatting sexual assault.
Using social situations to change perspectives on sexual assault
Your behavior in social situations helps define the way we think about sexual assault. Often times, people choose not to help someone because they don’t know what to do, or they think it’s none of their business, or they think someone else will help.
When you take action, others take notice.
Everything from explaining that certain jokes aren’t funny, to getting security involved when someone becomes aggressive, is a way of showing to everyone around you that they too have the power to prevent sexual assault.
Preventing Domestic Violence
Know the signs of domestic violence
- Discouraging you from spending time away from your partner
- Making you feel guilty for all the problems in the relationship
- Embarrassing or shaming you
- Controlling all financial decisions
- Threatening violence against you, or intimidating you physically