What is Sexual Assault

Domestic Violence Hotline - 713.528.2121

Sexual Assault Hotline - 713.528.RAPE (7273)

What is Sexual Assault?

Sexual assault is any unwanted, non-consensual sexual contact against any individual by another using manipulation, pressure, tricks, coercion or physical force. It is any act a person is forced to perform or receive that includes touching of the genitals or breasts. This includes rape, sodomy, touching or oral sex where the victim is unwilling or unable to give verbal consent, including being under 17 years old, intoxicated, drugged or unconscious. Sexual violence can be committed by someone known to the survivor as well as a stranger. 

If you have experienced sexual assault, you may feel frightened, angry, ashamed, hopeless, numb or combination of these emotions. These are normal responses, and you are alone. It is not your fault. You can call our 24-hour Sexual Assault Hotline at 713-528-7273 to speak with an advocate. Supportive counseling can be an effective way to learn about the assault and your options.

Sexual Assault includes:

  • Completed act of penetration any penetration of the vagina, anus, or other body orifice by any object
  • Attempted act of penetration
  • Abusive sexual contact and intentional touching
  • Non-contact sexual abuse voyeurism, exhibitionism, verbal or behavioral sexual harassment, threats or sexual violence, taking or posting sexual photos

Other terms commonly used:

  • Sexual violence
  • Rape
  • Date rape
  • Marital rape
  • Incest
  • Sexual abuse
  • Molestation

Facts about Sexual Violence

  • Nearly 13 percent of Texans have been sexually assaulted. That equates to almost 2 million people, or one in 5 women and one in 20 men.
  • In the United States, one in six women and one in 33 men reported experiencing an attempted or completed rape at some time in their lives.
  • Females are the most frequent victims of sexual assault; however, men and boys are victims of sexual violence.
  • Women in college are particularly vulnerable: 20 percent to 25 percent of women in college reported experiencing an attempted or a completed rape.
  • Similarly, males are victimized most frequently before age 18.
  • 60.4 percent of female and 69.2 percent of male victims were first raped before age 18.
  • 25.5 percent of females were first raped before age 12, and 34.9 percent were first raped between the ages of 12-17.
  • 41.0 percent of males were first raped before age 12, and 27.9 percent were first raped between the ages of 12-17.
  • Most sexual assaults are never reported to law enforcement.

*Texas Association of Sexual Assault. Visit www.taasa.org for additional information and resources.

Common Reactions to Sexual Assault

Common reactions of a survivor

Common reactions of friends and family

While each survivor's situation and circumstances are unique, there are some characteristics that appear to be common among survivors of sexual assault. Experiencing some or several of the effects listed below is very normal. The survivor has suffered serious trauma. There is nothing wrong with someone who does not experience the trauma within a certain time limit or who experiences different effects than those listed. This list is only intended to give the survivor and their loved ones an idea of what they may experience.

A Survivor of Sexual Assault May Experience:

The survivor may experience some, all or none of the reactions listed in the following categories:

  • Common Physical Effects
    • Pain and soreness
    • Injuries
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Headaches
  • Common Psychological and Emotional Effects
  • Common Physiological Effects
  • Rape Trauma Syndrome (RTS)

Common Reactions for the Family and Friends of Survivors

It is normal for family and friends to feel confused, upset and angry, and to experience many of the same responses as a survivor. At a time when you want most to help the survivor through this crisis, you will be dealing with a crisis of your own.

The following reactions are commonly experienced by friends and family members or sexual assault survivors:

  • Blaming the survivor - wishing that the survivor could have prevented it.
  • Finding it difficult to listen when the survivor needs to talk.
  • Trying to make the survivor talk when she/he is not ready.
  • Being tempted to make decisions for the survivor.
  • Being over-pro ­tective
  • Trying to hide the assault from others, or telling others about the assault without the survivors permission.
  • Trying to resolve the crisis quickly, to fix it or expect them to "get over it."

It is essential for people to avoid judging the survivor for their decisions. Not understanding the reality of sexual assault can make the crisis more difficult for you and the survivor. Learn more about Sexual Assault at taasa.org.

*Excerpted from www.taasa.org

There are many resources about the impact of sexual assault on victims. Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) and Rape Victim Advocates are helpful places to begin.

Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network

Rape Victim Advocates