What is Sexual Abuse?
Sexual abuse refers to any action that pressures or coerces someone to do something sexually they don’t want to do. It can also refer to behavior that impacts a person’s ability to control their sexual activity or the circumstances in which sexual activity occurs, including oral sex, rape or restricting access to birth control and condoms. It is important to know that just because the victim “didn’t say no,” doesn’t mean that they meant “yes.” When someone does not resist an unwanted sexual advance, it doesn’t mean that they gave consent. Sometimes physically resisting can put a victim at a bigger risk for further physical or sexual abuse. Some think that if the victim didn’t resist, that it doesn’t count as abuse. That’s not true. This myth is hurtful because it makes it more difficult for the victim to speak out and more likely that they will blame themselves. Whether they were intoxicated or felt pressured, intimidated or obligated to act a certain way, sexual assault/abuse is never the victim’s fault. Some examples of sexual assault and abuse include:
- Unwanted kissing or touching.
- Unwanted rough or violent sexual activity.
- Rape or attempted rape.
- Refusing to use condoms or restricting someone’s access to birth control.
- Keeping someone from protecting themselves from sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
- Sexual contact with someone who is very drunk, drugged, unconscious or otherwise unable to give a clear and informed “yes” or “no.”
- Threatening someone into unwanted sexual activity.
- Pressuring or forcing someone to have sex or perform sexual acts.
- Using sexual insults toward someone.
Keep in Mind
- Everyone has the right to decide what they do or don’t want to do sexually. Not all sexual assaults are violent “attacks.”
- Most victims of sexual assault know the assailant.
- People of all genders can be victims of sexual abuse.
- People of all genders can be perpetrators of sexual abuse.
- Sexual abuse can occur in same-sex and opposite-sex relationships.
- Sexual abuse can occur between two people who have been sexual with each other before, including people who are married or dating.
- Sexual activity in a relationship should be fun!
What to Do
If you have been sexually assaulted, first try to get to a safe place away from the attacker. You may be scared, angry and confused, but remember the abuse was in no way your fault. You have options. You can:
- Contact Someone You Trust. Many people feel fear, guilt, anger, shame and/or shock after they have been sexually assaulted. Having someone there to support you as you deal with these emotions can make a big difference. Call Hope Alliance to speak with an advocate.
- Report What Happened to the Police. If you do decide to report what happened to the police, you will have a stronger case if you do not alter or destroy any evidence. This means don’t shower, wash your hair or body, comb your hair or change your clothes, even if that is hard to do. If you are nervous about going to the police station or hospital, it may help to bring a friend with you.
- Go to an Emergency Room or Health Clinic. It is very important for you to seek health care as soon as you can after being assaulted. You will be treated for any injuries and offered medications to help prevent pregnancy and/or STIs. Call Hope Alliance and an Advocate will meet you at the hospital so that you don't have to be there alone. No matter the time or day, we will go with you.
**Information from National Domestic Hotline**
Sexual Assault Facts
- 1 in 3 women have been victim of either an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime
- 321,000 American women are sexually assaulted each year
- 75% of sexual assault incidents occur in a home
- In 85% of sexual assaults, the offender was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the incident
- It is estimated that 54% of sexual assaults are not reported to the police
- Victims of sexual assault are:
- 13 times more likely to abuse alcohol
- 26 times more likely to abuse drugs
- 4 times more likely to contemplate suicide
- More than 50% of all sexual assaults involved acquaintances or friends
Texas 2016 Statistics*
- There were 19,045 incidents of sexual assault in Texas
- There were 877 sexual assaults in Williamson and Travis counties
- 13% of the victims were male
- 15 to 19 year old age bracket had the highest number of offenders
- In 84.7% of the assaults, it was reported that neither drugs nor alcohol was involved
- 73% of assaults occurred in a home
*TX Department of Public Safety 2015 Crime in Texas
I knew my rapist.
I was raped. That is a hard statement to type. Worse, I was raped by someone who claimed to be my friend, my confidant. It took me several years to seek help. Hope Alliance's staff was so kind and helpful. The counseling really helped me work through the trauma. I am so thankful for them all!
My son is a survivor
My 10 year old son came to me one day in tears. He told me an older kid had been raping him all summer. My soul shattered. I am a sexual assault survivor and did everything I could to prevent my children from being a survivor as well. I didn't know what to do, didn't know where to turn. The kid that did this to my son was one of my dearest friend's son. I was thankful to find Hope Alliance. Both my son and I got counseling and it is the best thing that we could have done. Now my son won't have to struggle with the shame or secrecy about his trauma and if it does reappear, we can go back to Hope Alliance and help him understand and overcome the new issues, too.
Definitions of Sexual Assault
According to the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault:
“Sexual assault, or rape, is a violent crime, not a sexual act. The myth that men who rape women are sexually deprived or pathological is being dispelled and replaced with the understanding that rape is more of an act of power and control than lust.”
The Texas Penal Code states that a sexual assault is without consent if the perpetrator compels the other person to submit or participate by the use of physical force or violence or threatening to use force or violence, the victim has not consented and the perpetrator knows that the person is unconscious or physically unable to resist, the perpetrator knows that the victim is incapable of appraising the nature of the act or resisting it because of a mental disease or defect, the victim has not consented and the perpetrator knows that the victim is unaware that the sexual assault is occurring, the perpetrator has intentionally impaired the victim’s power to appraise or control their conduct by administering any substance without the victim’s knowledge, the perpetrator threatens to use force or violence against another individual to compel the victim to submit or participate, the perpetrator is a public servant who coerces the victim to submit or participate, the perpetrator is a mental health services provider or health care services provider who causes a patient or former patient to submit or participate by exploiting their emotional dependency or the provider, the perpetrator is a clergyman who exploits the victim’s emotional dependency on the clergyman in their professional character as spiritual advisor, or the perpetrator is an employee of a facility where the victim is a resident.
The Texas Penal Codes adds that the offence becomes an aggravated sexual assault if the person causes serious bodily injury or attempts to cause the death of the victim or another person in the course of the same criminal episode; by acts or words places the victim in fear that death, serious bodily injury or kidnapping will be imminently inflected on any person; the acts or words occurring in the presence of the victim threatens to cause the death, serious bodily injury or kidnapping of any person; uses or exhibits a deadly weapon in the course of the same criminal episode; acts in concert with another who engages in an aggravated sexual assault directed toward the same victim and occurring during the course of the same criminal episode; administers or provides flunitrazepam (rohypnol), gamma hydroxybutyrate or ketamine to the victim of the offense with the intent of facilitating the commission of the offense; the victim is younger than 14 years of age; or the victim is an elderly individual or a disabled individual.