What Is Sexual Assault?

What is Sexual Assault?

Sexual assault is any unwanted sexual contact forced upon a person without his or her consent.

Sexual assault does not have to be physical. Sexual may instead involve threats, intimidation, or coercion. Examples of sexual assault include:


Unlawful sexual activity, most often involving sexual intercourse, against the will of the victim through force or the threat of force or with an individual who is incapable of giving legal consent.

Indecent exposure

Intentional exposure of part of one’s body (such as the genitals) in a place where such exposure is likely to be an offense against the generally accepted standards of decency.


Sexual intercourse between persons so closely related that they are forbidden by law to marry.


To make unwanted or improper sexual advances towards someone.


Anal or oral copulation with a member of the same or opposite sex.

Sexual Harassment

Uninvited and unwelcome verbal or physical behavior of a sexual nature.

Eighty percent of all sexual assaults are committed by someone the victim knows.

Sexual violence can happen to anyone, regardless of his or her race, gender, sexual orientation, physical ability, age, or economic status. No one “asks” or deserves to be assaulted.

How can I help a friend or family member who has experienced sexual violence?

First and foremost, believe them. Then, listen without judging.

Be patient and allow your loved one to tell their story at their own pace. It is best not to ask specific questions such as: “Why were you there?” or “What were you wearing?” These questions may come across as judgmental to the victim of sexual assault.

Ask how you can help.

Offer to accompany your friend or family member to seek medical attention, counseling, or to the police department.

You may suggest they seek help from a trained sexual assault advocate, which can be found locally at Project Horizon.

Most importantly, do not tell anyone else about the assault without the victim’s permission.

What if I have been sexually assaulted?

Contact Project Horizon, or call our 24 Hour Crisis Hotline at +1 (540) 463-2594 for help.

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