Definition of Sexual Assault
Sexual assault includes attacks such as rape or attempted rape, as well as any unwanted sexual contact or threats. Usually, a sexual assault occurs when someone touches any part of another person’s body in a sexual way, even through clothes, without that person’s consent. Some types of sexual acts that fall under the category of sexual assault include forced sexual intercourse (rape), sodomy (oral or anal sexual acts), child molestation, incest, fondling and attempted rape. Assailants can be strangers but are more likely acquaintances, friends, or family members. Assailants commit sexual assault by way of violence, threats, coercion, manipulation, pressure, or tricks.
How Do I Help Survivors of Sexual Assault?
Start by listening and believing the victim. It is important to support survivors in the choices that they choose to make.
- Listen without judgment
- It is normal when you are listening to victim to have many different reactions such as anger or shock, sometimes expressing those reactions can make a survivor feel like they are responsible for your reactions. Try your best to stay calm and listen without asking too many questions which can feel victim blaming.
- Let your friend know that they are not alone.
- Offer your friend support, by giving them your time, and remind them of available resources.
- Ask your friend if there is Anything You Can Do for them.
- It will mean a tremendous amount just knowing that there is someone around who they trust, someone who loves and cares for them. You can always ask how you can help if there is anything you can do.
- Remember that healing has no timeline, each victims journey is unique and so it will look different for each person. Provide ongoing support and make time to check-in.