What is sexual assault?
Sexual violence is any type of unwanted sexual contact, ranging from sexist attitudes and actions to rape and murder. Sexual violence can include words and actions of a sexual nature against a person’s will. An offender might also use force, threats, manipulation, or coercion to commit sexual violence.
There is a social context that surrounds sexual violence. Social norms that promote violence, using power over others, unhealthy concepts about masculinity, the subjugation of women, and silence about violence and abuse contribute to the occurrence of sexual violence.
Oppression in all of its forms is among the root causes of sexual violence. Sexual violence is preventable through collaborations of community members at multiple levels of society: homes, neighborhoods, schools, faith settings, workplaces, and other settings. We all play a role in preventing sexual violence and establishing norms of respect, safety, equality, and helping others.
What is consent?
Consent is freely agreeing to do something. In this section of the booklet we will look at what it means to:
- Consent to sex;
- Not consent to sex;
- Not have the capacity to consent to sex;
- Give consent and then withdraw it.
If you are unsure about these issues you can call a lawyer for some free legal advice or speak to a sexual assault counsellor.
Consenting to have sex or sexual contact means:
- No one pressuring you;
- No one forcing you;
- No one threatening you or threatening someone or something you love;
- You want to have sex and have not changed your mind;
- You have the ability to stop when you want;
- You are 16 years or older;
- You are awake and conscious;
- You are not overly affected by alcohol or drugs;
- You do not have a cognitive impairment that affects your ability to consent;
- The person you have sex with has not lied about their identity or led you to believe they were someone else.
Do you or someone you know need help?
- Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network’s (RAINN) National Sexual Assault Hotline
- Call 800.656.HOPE (4673) to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area.
- Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network’s (RAINN) National Sexual Assault Online Hotline
- Visit online.rainn.org to chat one-on-one with a trained RAINN support specialist, any time 24/7.
- National Sexual Violence Resource Center
- Violence Against Women
- Call the OWH HELPLINE: 1-800-994-9662