Sexual assault is any behavior or contact of a sexual nature that is unwanted or makes a person uncomfortable. Sexual assault occurs any time a person is forced, coerced, and/or manipulated into any unwanted sexual activity. A person does not have to be touched to be a victim of sexual assault. It can occur when the personal space and safety of a person is violated.
Sexual Assault is about power, not sex. A rapist uses force or violence — or the threat of it — to take control over another human being. Some rapists use drugs to take away a person’s ability to fight back. Rape is a crime, whether the person committing it is a stranger, a date, an acquaintance, a spouse, or a family member.
It’s important to know that each person is different, and it takes time to heal from sexual assault. Although many victims experience similar reactions, there are still individual differences in how they respond to the trauma of sexual assault. They may experience some or all of these reactions. They may occur immediately, or they may have a delayed reaction week or months later. Certain situations, such as seeing the assailant or testifying in court, may intensify the symptoms or cause them to reoccur after a period during which they have been feeling better.
If you need help, call the YWCA 24-hour helpline (1-800-669-3716) to speak with an advocate about assistance and services available.