Sexual violence is any unwanted or non-consensual sexual act. Sexual violence can be committed by acquaintances, casual or long-term dating partners, spouses or strangers. The use of alcohol and/or any other substance, by either party, in conjunction with an incident of sexual violence, does not mitigate responsibility or diminish the seriousness of the offense.
Forms of Sexual Violence
Non-stranger rape is forced or coerced sexual intercourse between people who are acquainted with one another. When someone you know forces you to have sex against your will - whether you are passed out, too drunk to refuse, too scared to argue, or, for some other reason, do not give consent - is non-stranger rape. The offender can be a friend, co-worker, classmate, relative, neighbor, or anyone else with whom you are acquainted. He/she may be someone you meet at a party, a coffee shop, a restaurant, or a bar. He/she can be a friend of a friend. Non-stranger rape is the most common form of rape.
Sexual harassment is unwanted or unwelcome behavior of a sexual nature. The behavior can be nonverbal, such as obscene gestures or forced viewing of pornographic material. The behavior can be verbal, such as requests, comments, jokes, name-calling, or rumors of a sexual nature. The behavior can be physical, such as touching, pinching, groping, patting, sexual assault or rape.
Examples of sexual violence
Using threats and intimidation to get sex is sexual violence.
"My partner threatened to break up with me if we didn't have sex soon, so I just went along with it even though I didn't want to."
Not taking no for an answer is sexual violence.
"My spouse wanted to have sex, but I didn't. I kept saying no, but my spouse would not leave me alone. I didn't know what else to do, so I just gave in."
Using drugs or alcohol to facilitate sex is sexual violence.
"She said no at first, but after a few hours of me buying her drinks at the bar it was easy to get her to come home with me and have sex."
Using physical force or threats of force to get sex is sexual violence.
"I said no, but the person just held me down and did it anyway."
Unwanted sexual touching (sexual battery) is sexual violence.
"I was on a crowded bus and someone grabbed my butt."
Unwanted requests, comments, jokes, name-calling, or rumors of a sexual nature are sexual violence.
"He told everyone that I was a slut and would sleep with anyone."
Street harassment is sexual violence.
"I was out for a jog and a car full of people drove by and yelled obscene things at me."
It's important to remember that a person might not show these behaviors from the start. In fact, it's common for someone to try to gain the trust or affection of a victim through flattery, being friendly, extending invitations or offering to pay for things. This may explain why non-stranger rapists often catch victims off guard. Here are some warning signs that someone might become sexually violent.
- Refuses to let you share any of the expenses on a date.
- Invades your personal space by sitting too close, using his/her body to block your way, speaking as if he/she knows you better than he/she actually does, or touching you when you ask him/her not to.
- Insists on being alone with you.
- Tries to get you intoxicated and/or makes you feel bad for not wanting to get drunk, get high, have sex, or go with him/her to an isolated place like his/her apartment.
- Treats women as sexual objects and feels entitled to sex.
- Sexual narcissism