What is Sexual Assault?
Sexual assault is any unwanted behavior or contact of a sexual nature, in which consent is either not obtained or not freely given. It occurs any time a person is forced, coerced, or manipulated into any unwanted sexual activity, such as touching or groping, voyeurism, child molestation, rape, or attempted rape.
An act of sexual violence is deliberate, and is used to make another person feel helpless, humiliated and degraded, and in turn, make the perpetrator feel powerful.
What is Consent?
Consent is clear, voluntary, informed, verbal agreement to any form of sexual contact or behavior. Consent happens when both people involved can freely express their needs and wants without fear of their partner’s reaction. Consent is mutual and enthusiastic.
What is not consent?
- Consent cannot be obtained by coercion, force, or manipulation. If you are threatened or “talked into” giving consent, it does not count.
- Consent is not implied by a current or prior relationship. Even if you’re married, you have a right to say “no.”
- Consent to one form of sexual contact is not implied by consent to a different form. If you consent to kissing, you have not automatically consented to touching. Giving consent to touching does not imply consent to intercourse.
- Consent is not implied by prior sexual activity. You have the right to decide what you want or don’t want at any time.
- Consent cannot be given by someone who is incapacitated or otherwise incapable of giving consent.
- Consent is not implied by clothing or behavior. You have the right to your own body.
- Consent is not implied by silence or lack of active resistance. Only “Yes!” means Yes.
Sexual contact that happens without obtaining explicit consent is assault.
If you feel uncomfortable in any situation, you have the right to speak up, say No, or leave. You have the right to your own body.
Remember, it is never the victim’s fault. If you are incapacitated, afraid, or uncomfortable for any reason with explicitly saying no or fighting back, this does not mean that you have given consent or are responsible for being assaulted.
Assault is a crime – it is not about sex or “passion.” It is a crime of power and control, using sexual organs.
If you have been sexually assaulted, call our 24-7 Rape Crisis Hotline: 208.345.7273
What can I do if I’ve been assaulted?
The WCA provides a 24-hour rape crisis hotline with trained staff who can provide guidance and support for survivors of sexual assault. You can call our Hotline at 208.345.7273 for immediate assistance.
The Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network offers additional information and help on what to do following a sexual assault.
What can I do if my loved one has been assaulted?
Some guidelines to follow if your friend or family member tells you that they have been assaulted:
- Avoid Secondary Wounding. Your loved one has already had power taken from them. You can help them regain some sense of control by letting them make their own decisions on what to do about it.
- Believe your loved one. It takes a lot of courage to tell someone.
- Listen without judgment or blame; be supportive.
- Reassure them that the assault was not their fault.
- Do not pry. Allow the survivor to offer or not to offer the details of the assault.
- Allow the survivor to choose with whom they will share the details of the assault.
- Encourage the survivor to contact authorities. However, do not pressure them. If they have questions about the criminal justice process, they can call our hotline.
- If your loved one decides to seek medical attention or report the assault, offer to go with them.
- Understand the survivor might not want to be touched.
- Be patient. Understand that recovery can take months or years.
- Find support for yourself. Good self-care is not selfish. It is essential to take care of yourself so that you can continue to support your loved one.
Our 24-hour crisis hotline staff is trained to assist loved ones of sexual assault survivors as well as survivors. Call 208.345.7273 if you want to talk to a client advocate for more help.
Where can I find more information about sexual assault and prevention?
For links to other helpful information for survivors, their loved ones, and members of the community, visit our Resources and Education sections: