Sexual assault is a serious problem. The victim is left confused, hurt and angry.
Moreover, sexual assault victims victims are frequently frustrated and humiliated by their inability to find justice; police doubt their stories, friends call them confused – or worse, crazy – and perpetrators often claim nothing happened.
There’s help out there for sexual assault victims. Growing society and media awareness of this problem has empowered victims to speak out, build networks of help and to promote safe ways in which victims can get help.
Here are four things everyone needs to know about sexual assault to help rid society of this violent – and all too often silent – menace.
It’s a Crime
Any sexual activity in which one person doesn’t give consent is assault and is illegal. Victims are encouraged to call the police. Save anything that might have the perpetrator’s DNA on it (e.g. anything with bodily fluids on it) and go the emergency room.
Many people simply don’t understand what sexual assault is.
One key item in this study is researchers didn’t use the word “rape.”
Judging by this, it seems an enormous amount of people flat out don’t understand consent is essential for all sexual behavior, and forcing any sexual acts on anyone is assault.
Someone the Victim Knows
The media myth that all rapists are strangers hiding in the bushes has done damage to society’s understanding of sexual assault.
Sexual assaults tend to happen between people who know one another.
In fact, serial rapists are rather rare.
This notion—that sexual assault is something that only happens to people who walk alone at night, and is committed by strangers—has made caused major misconceptions about sexual assault and prevented societal progress on the issues.
Marital Rape is Rape
Marital rape is sexual assault perpetrated by a person on his or her spouse. Until shockingly recently, United States law did not recognize the existence of marital rape. Before then, the law basically took marriage itself as permanent consent, and non-consensual intercourse within a marriage wasn’t subject to prosecution.
Sexual assault within a marriage is abuse. Abuse is not only illegal, it’s grounds for divorce, according to Charles R. Ullman & Associates.
Education is Essential: Don’t Be a Victim
Education is essential to preventing sexual assault. If so many don’t even recognize what sexual assault even is, many people will continue to perform this unconscionable crime without even realizing it.
Real sex education (not abstinence-only, which does not work), which treats issues like consent and abuse realistically and responsibly, can give people tools that can empower potential victims to combat sexual assault.
Sexual assault in a relationship rarely exists in a vacuum. It frequently occurs alongside other forms of abusive behavior. Do you know someone who is suffering from domestic violence? Click here to get four pieces of advice you can share with someone suffering from domestic violence.