Sexual violence is any sexual act committed against someone without consent. It includes all unwanted sexual acts meant to humiliate, control or intimidate another. It can range from gestures and comments to violent physical acts. Sexual violence includes, but is not limited to:
attempted rape, rape or sexual assault
child sexual abuse and incest
intimate partner sexual assault
unwanted sexual contact and/or touching
sexual exploitation of children (pornography, prostitution, or trafficking)
unwanted sexual comments or advances
Sexual violence is about power and control. It doesn't happen because a person is aroused, lonely or can’t get sexual activity in another way. It is a deliberate act meant to control and dominate another person. It is a violation of a person’s boundaries without their freely given consent.
Who Commits Sexual Violence?
Sexual violence can be committed by anyone. Most often, someone known to the victim/survivor commits the harm. This could be a friend, teacher, sibling, parent, grandparent, aunt, or uncle. In rare circumstances, it’s a complete stranger.
The only person responsible for sexual violence is the person who does it. It is NEVER the victim’s fault.
What is Consent?
Consent is an ongoing agreement to take part in sexual activity with another person. It should be freely given. Anyone should feel as though they can say yes or no at any point. You can stop or withdraw consent at any time.
Just because someone doesn't say "no" does not equal consent. If someone uses force, pressure, or manipulation, it isn't consenting. If someone is under the influence of any drug(s), including alcohol, they also can't consent.
Consent should happen every time; you can't assume. Giving consent for one activity does not mean consent for others. For example, agreeing to kiss someone does not give that person permission to have sex with you. It also does not mean that having sex once gives permission for sex in the future.
What is Coercion, Manipulation, and Force?
Abusers use coercion, manipulation, and force to influence someone into unwanted sexual acts. It could be persuasion, intimidation, or other nonphysical methods. It also could come through physical force. Using drugs and alcohol to weaken victims' resistance is another form of coercion. Examples of coercive statements include:
“If you really wanted to be with me, you would have sex with me. I could find someone who really wants to be with me.”
“You’ve been flirting with me all night, I didn’t think you were such a prude.”
“We’ve had sex before.”