What is Sexual Violence?
Sexual violence is sexual activity where “consent [is] not obtained or freely given”. It is often used as an umbrella term and includes rape and sexual assault. Sexual violence affects individuals from every community; anyone can experience or perpetrate sexual violence.
Sexual harassment can be defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment can include in-person contact such as:
- inappropriate or uninvited touching
- sexually suggestive gestures
- catcalls and ogling
It can also include the following:
- non-verbal gestures or actions
- harassment through electronic media (social media, calling/texting, emailing, etc.)
Sexual assault can be generally defined as unwanted sexual contact. It occurs when there is a lack of consent between both parties. It can take a multitude of forms, including the following:
- rape or attempted rape
- any unwanted sexual contact or threats
Factors that influence capabilities and incapabilities of giving consent can include age, physical capacity, and mental capacity.
Molestation can be defined as a touch or attack towards someone in a sexual manner against their wishes. Child molestation is a form of child abuse in which an adult or older adolescent uses a child for sexual stimulation. It can take many forms including:
- engaging in sexual activities with a child
- indecent exposure
- child grooming
- child sexual exploitation
Most cases of molestation occur by a family member (incest), family friend, babysitter, or neighbor.
Rape can be defined as unlawful sexual intercourse or vaginal, oral, or anal penetration without the consent of the victim. It can be met with threats or other methods of violence. Statutory Rape can be defined as sexual intercourse or other sexual relations with a person under the legal age of consent. Individuals of any age, gender, or sexuality can experience and be survivors of rape.
Consent is an agreement or permission expressed through affirmative, voluntary words or actions that are mutually understandable to all parties involved, to engage in a specific sexual act at a specific time
- Consent can be withdrawn at anytime
- Consent cannot be forced, threatened, or compelled by
- deception or intimidation
- Consent is specific; saying yes to one activity doesn’t
- mean you’ve said yes to others.
- Consent is never indicated through previous behavior,
- clothing choice or where you go.
- Consent must always be clearly communicated!
Steps to Reduce Sexual Violence Before it Starts:
Encourage social norms that protect against sexual violence such as mobilizing men as allies and using the bystander approach, an approach that makes the transition from being passive bystanders to being empowered and active ones, and contributes to a change in the social acceptability of harassment, abuse or violence.
Teach skills to lessen sexually violent behaviors such as promoting healthy sexuality and encouraging safe dating and relationship skills to teens
Establish safe and protective environments by improving safety and monitoring in schools and reinforcing safety policies in the workplace.
Support victims and survivors through victim centered services and treatment centers, providing treatment for at-risk families and children to reduce negative behavior including sex offending.
Hotlines and Support:
- National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline: 800.656.4673
- National Sexual Violence Resource Center: http://www.nsvrc.org/
- National Organization for Victim Assistance: http://www.trynova.org/about-us/overview/
- National Online Resource Center on Violence Against Women: http://www.vawnet.org/
- The National Center for Victims of Crime: http://www.victimsofcrime.org/