Sexual Assault and Rape

Photo by Annie Vandermyde Photo by Annie Vandermyde

Sexual assault occurs any time a person is forced, coerced, and/or manipulated into unwanted sexual contact or behavior without explicit consent, whether attempted or completed. Sexual assault is not just physical. It can be verbal, visual, or any act that forces a person to join in unwanted sexual contact or attention. It can happen in different situations: in the home by someone you know, within your intimate relationship (including marriage), on a date, or by a stranger in an isolated place. Examples of sexually abusive behavior include being forced to dress in a sexual way; being held down during sex; being hurt with weapons or objects during sex, or being coerced into any undesired sexual encounter.

Rape is included under the umbrella of “sexual assault” but specifically involves unwanted or forced penetration by body part or object. Rape and sexual assault are never the victim's fault — no matter where or how they happen.

Common Reactions during a Sexual Assault

  • Freezing: Feeling unable to think, move, or speak
  • Yielding: “Giving in” or pretending to cooperate
  • Bargaining: Trying to cut a deal during the assault
  • Physical Fighting: Anything you did to survive
  • Terror and Disbelief: Extreme fear, helplessness, hopelessness
  • Sexual Response: The human body is designed to respond to touch, so if you experienced a sexual response, this is normal.

REMEMBER - IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT!

Rape is a Crime of Power and Control

All sexual assault is an act of power and aggression, regardless of the gender or age of the victim or the assailant. Neither sexual desire nor sexual deprivation is the primary motivating force behind sexual assault. It is not about sexual gratification, but rather a sexual aggressor using somebody else as a means of expressing their own power and control.

Source: RAINN - Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network 

Rapists look for vulnerability and opportunity, not sexual appeal. In Utah, the oldest reported victim is 95 years old. The youngest reported victim was 3 days old.

docxDownload a list of Rape Myths.

Sexual Assault Statistics

  • 73% of sexual assaults were perpetrated by someone the victim knows
  • There is an average of 293,066 victims (age 12 and older) of rape and sexual assault every year.
  • Girls age 16-19 are four times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault

Statistics from Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN.org).

According to the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Crime Victimization Survey, there is an average of 293,066 victims (age 12 or older) of rape and sexual assault each year. Let’s break this down for a powerful reality check. There are 525,600 minutes in a non-leap year. That makes 31,536,000 seconds in a year. By dividing the number of seconds by the number of annual victims we learn that a sexual assault occurs every 107 seconds. In other words, for every two minutes that go by on any particular day of the year, more than one sexual assault is taking place in this country.

Victims of sexual assault are:

  • 3 times more likely to suffer from depression;
  • 6 times more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder;
  • 13 times more likely to abuse alcohol;
  • 26 times more likely to abuse drugs;
  • 4 times more likely to contemplate suicide.

(World Health Organization, 2002, as cited on rainn.org)

One in three Utah women will experience some type of sexual assault in her lifetime and one in eight will be raped. The majority of rapes (88.2%) are never reported to law enforcement, indicating that sexual violence in Utah is grossly underestimated. (Sources: Utah Department of Health and 2007 Rape in Utah Survey).

Over 80% of sexual assault cases were perpetrated by known assailants. (www.UCASA.org)

Sexual assault and abuse is any type of sexual activity that you do not consent to. View the fact sheet by Women's Health.