Frequently Asked Questions
What is sexual assault?
Anyone can be a victim of "sexual violence," including children, teenagers, people who are mentally and physically disabled, the elderly, women and men, regardless of race, sexual orientation or economic status. Sexual assault is a violent crime, not a sexual one.
"Sexual violence," which may be used as an umbrella term that encompasses sexual assault, can include several kinds of crimes: stranger rape, sexual harassment, child molestation, partner/marital rape, date/acquaintance rape, indecent exposure, incest, stalking, exposure and voyeurism. Sexual assault also includes situations in which a person may be under the influence of any substance, unconscious, or has a disability and cannot consent to sexual activity.
Survivors of sexual violence are forced, coerced and/or manipulated to participate in unwanted sexual activity. Survivors do not cause their assaults and are not to blame. Perpetrators are fully responsible for their actions. Perpetrators may be strangers, but more often are known to the survivor. Usually the perpetrator is an acquaintance, partner, spouse or family member.
Abuse takes many forms
Abuse takes many forms. Are you experiencing any of these?
Being treated as inferior
A person, or a group, who create a dance performance.
An umbrella term that encompasses sexual harassment, abuse, rape, and assault. Survivors of sexual violence are forced, coerced and/or manipulated to participate in unwanted sexual activity. Survivors did not cause their assaults and are not to blame. Perpetrators (the person who assaults the survivor) are fully responsible for their actions. Perpetrators may be strangers, but are most often known to the survivor. Usually the perpetrator is an acquaintance, partner, spouse, or other family member. The behaviors of perpetrators can be confusing to survivors, as they can sometimes appear loving or gentle, in order to manipulate the survivors into keeping the sexual abuse a secret. Despite how the sexual abuse takes shape, it is never the fault of the survivor.
There are many different kinds of survivors, but in the Project, we mean survivors of sexual violence.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder:
A condition that can develop when someone has experienced significant trauma. Symptoms of PTSD include irritability, substance abuse, nightmares or flashbacks of the traumatic event, trouble sleeping and feeling anxious. Although not all survivors of sexual violence will develop PTSD, many will experience some of its symptoms, which may last for years after the event.
Under federal law, sexual harassment is not a defined criminal violation, but is a violation of civil law (your civil rights) and can be cause for a civil lawsuit.
Sexual harassment is any unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other physical, verbal, or nonverbal conduct of a sexual nature that creates a hostile work or educational environment.
Like every other type of sexual violence, sexual harassment can happen to anyone regardless of gender, race, age, creed, or sexual orientation.
Sexual harassment is a civil, noncriminal violation. This means that the person guilty of sexual harassment may lose his/her job, be expelled from school, or have other consequences. Unless there are other criminal violations, this person will not go to jail. If you are being sexually harassed, you can file a complaint with the Arizona Attorney General Civil Rights Division (520) 638-6500
Myths and Facts about Sexual Violence
MYTH: Rape is only committed by weirdos and strangers.
FACT: MOST PEOPLE ARE RAPED BY SOMEONE THEY KNOW AND TRUST. Rapists are usually people who look and act the same as everybody else.
MYTH: Most victims are raped by strangers, in unfamiliar places or on dark nights.
FACT: It is estimated that 80-85% of rapists are known to the person they attack. "Acquaintance rape" by a friend, new acquaintance, or coworker is frequent, particularly among young, single women. Statistics show that 50% of sexual assaults occur in or around a woman's home, 50% during the day.
MYTH: It could never happen to me.
FACT: ALL PEOPLE ARE POTENTIAL VICTIMS. Males and females of any age, race, class, religion, occupation, sexual orientation, education, or physical description can be sexually assaulted.
MYTH: Only women are sexually assaulted or raped, and only by men.
FACT: Both men and women can be sexually assaulted or raped, and the perpetrator can be male or female with any sexual orientation.
MYTH: Only pretty, young women get sexually assaulted.
FACT: SEXUAL ASSAULT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU WHO ARE OR WHAT YOU LOOK LIKE. Sexual assault is not about sex, or being sexy. Attackers don't just victimize women of all ages, but also men of all ages, people who are disabled, attractive people, and unattractive people.
MYTH: Rape is a one-on-one encounter.
FACT: Only 57% of rapes involve one perpetrator. 16% involve two perpetrators and 27% involve three or more perpetrators.
MYTH: Perpetrators of sexual assault come largely from certain races or backgrounds.
FACT: Men and women of all races, ethnicities, ages, sexual orientations, economic and social classes are represented among perpetrators.
MYTH: It's not rape if the couple is dating or married.
FACT: Unwanted sexual activity in any relationship qualifies as sexual assault.
MYTH: If a woman agrees to some degree of sexual intimacy, she wants to have intercourse.
FACT: Any person has the right to agree to any degree of sexual intimacy they feel comfortable with at that moment, and to not go any further if they do not wish. A person may feel comfortable with one kind of sexual activity but not with another - or decide s/he is not ready for further intimacy.
MYTH: If you're drunk, high, or wearing sexy clothes, it's your fault if you get raped.
FACT: NO ONE WANTS TO BE RAPED. It is never the victim's fault that s/he was raped. That would be like saying if you go to a bank, it is your own fault if you get shot during a bank hold-up. Rape is a violent crime.
Cited References :
Southern Arizona Center Against Sexual Assault | www.SACASA.org
Retrieved from brochure: Services for Survivors of Sexual Trauma
Emerge! Center Against Domestic Abuse | www.emergecenter.org
"Survivor Handbook" from Southern Arizona Center Against Sexual Assault | www.SACASA.org