What is sexual assault
Sexual assault is forced, manipulated, or coerced sexual activity. It is a crime in which the assailant uses sex to inflict humiliation on the victim, to exert power and control over the victim, or to use the victim to attain sexual gratification without regard for the victim’s consent.
- Sexual assault can include child sexual abuse, rape, attempted rape, incest, exhibitionism, voyeurism, obscene phone calls, fondling and sexual harassment.
- While sexual assault can take many different forms, the loss of power and control that a victim experiences is a common thread.
- Victims of sexual assault can be any age, race, gender, or social background, as can the perpetrators.
- Rapists can be anyone. Many are married or have ongoing relationships.
- In more than half of all reported rapes, the victim and rapist know each other.
- Child victims know their rapist in more than 80 percent of all cases.
- Some rapists use alcohol or drugs to disable their intended victim
How to help a family member or a friend who has been sexually assaulted
The support and understanding of family and friends can be extremely helpful to a sexual assault victim. It can make all the difference to a survivor healing from an assault.
- Listen to what he or she says and ask how you can help before doing anything.
- Believe your friend and let her or him know you support her or him.
- Never blame your friend for what happened. Let your friend know it wasn’t her or his fault.
- Help your friend make his or her own decisions, instead of pressuring her or him to do what you think is best.
- Encourage the person to seek medical attention and contact a local sexual violence program.
- Don’t confront the person who committed the assault. It could create an unsafe situation for you or your friend.
- Maintain confidentiality.*
- Get help for yourself if you’re feeling overwhelmed or frightened. Find someone you can talk to about those feelings. Support and information for you and your friend is available through the statewide sexual assault hotline 1-800-277-5570. To find a support center in your area go to our Get Help page.
Phrases you can use to help
• “Nothing you did (or didn’t do) makes you deserve this.” or “It’s not your fault.”
• “I’m sorry this happened.”
• “I believe you.”
• “I’m glad you told me what you’re going through.”
• “How can I help you feel safer?”
• “I’ll support your decisions.”
• “You’re not alone."
• “What can I do to help?”
Click here for more on how to help someone who has been sexually assaulted.
You can find out more about sexual assault and resources available at www.nhcadsv.org and at nomore.org.
NO MORE encourages you to support partner groups working to end domestic violence and sexual assault.