Sexual Abuse / Assault

th-9Sex Without Consent is Rape (coerced or forced sexual activity without vaginal/anal penetration is still asexual assault) When it comes to having sex, co-operation is NOT consent. If a person has sex (co-operates) because s/he is afraid of what will happen to him or her if s/he doesn’t ,that is not free will consent.

Questions to ask to know if you are able to give free will consent….

  • Are you old enough to give free will consent? (the age of consent varies by state)
  • Are both you and the person that you have (or have had) sex with able to give free will consent?
  • (in other words are/were not significantly impaired by drugs or alcohol, or mentally/developmentally disabled)
  • Do/did both you and the person that you have/had sex with agree(d) to have sex prior to having it? ( without use of any verbal or physical threats or coercion).

If you answered “no” to any of these questions, you may have been a victim of rape/sexual assault

When the perpetrator is a “friend”, “friend” of the family, or family member ….

Like so many non-stranger assaults, this crime/situation is filled with blurred boundaries and emotions. How can a person that the victim may love and/or trust do this to him/her? Also, how will the rest of the family react when the assault is reported? Who will be believed and/or supported, and how will it affect other family relationships/alliances? 

When the perpetrator is a stranger….

Others are less likely to “blame” the victim when the victim is assaulted jogging in the park or in a parking lot leaving work than they are to blame a victim who agrees to go out for dinner or a drink or who gets a ride home from a co-worker or another student from class.  

The victim often wonders “Why me?” He or she has no relationship with the perpetrator, and often feels that it must have been something about them or something that they did [wrong in his or her mind] to cause the perpetrator to “pick” them to assault. He or she may believe/blame the activity or area of the assault and be afraid to return to it for a long time after the assault.

When the victim of the assault was drugged by the perpetrator….

When the victim is drugged by the perpetrator, he or she may not remember anything or perhaps anyone related to the assault. He or she has no idea what happened or how he or she got from one place to another. This adds to the victim’s feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and fear as the unknown and lack of memory/control is another layer of victimization of the crime. In addition, there are sometimes side effects from the different drugs that cause further discomfort or harm. It is the responsibility of the first responder to gather all of the evidence at the scene, not to judge or assess it.

When the victim of the sexual assault was drunk or high committed….

Victims who drink and/or use drugs often use poor judgment (especially when they are drunk or high), but poor judgment on a victim’s part does not give a perpetrator the right to sexually assault and not be held accountable. Not wearing a seatbelt is poor judgment; it is even illegal in some states. If a person uses poor judgment or “forgets” to wear a seatbelt does that mean he/she deserves to get seriously hurt or killed in an auto accident? Of course not, nor should “bad judgment” mean someone “deserves” to get raped. The only person that deserves something is the perpetrator who “deserves” to be held accountable for the crime that he/she has commited.

When a sexual assault occurs in a residential facility or institution (especially if the victim is elderly and/or handicapped)….

Similar to the dynamic of childhood sexual abuse or incest, a person who is sexually assaulted in a residential facility or institution is assaulted where they live (in their “home”) – a place that is supposed to be safe. The victimization in a facility or institution is further complicated by the fact that the perpetrator is often a “caretaker” of the victim, someone who is supposed to care for him or her and help keep him or her safe, who is causing the pain and harm.

The secrecy (keeping the “secret”)of sexual abuse/assault continues to give it power to hurt and shame you. You are not at fault and don’t have to deal with the pain and shame of rape/sexual assault yourself.

If you (or someone you know or love) have been sexually abused, assaulted, raped or violated in any way, I can help.