Family and Friends

What is sexual violence?

Sexual violence is any act (verbal and/or physical) which breaks a person's trust and/or safety and is sexual in nature. The term "sexual violence" includes: rape, incest, child sexual assault, ritual abuse, date and acquaintance rape, marital or partner rape, sexual contact, sexual harassment, exposure and voyeurism. Sexual assaults are acts of violence where sex is used as a weapon. Assaults are motivated primarily out of anger and/or a need to feel powerful by controlling, dominating, or humiliating the victim. Victims/survivors of sexual assaults are forced, coerced, and/or manipulated to participate in unwanted sexual activity. Victims/survivors do not cause their assaults and are not to blame. Offenders are responsible for their assaults.

Feelings most frequently experienced following a sexual assault


  • of being alone and/or being in crowds
  • of the rapist returning
  • of places, people and things that remind one of the assault
  • of others finding out and what they will think
  • of men in general
  • of having to make a police report or going to court
  • of one's child being assaulted
  • of one's own rage
  • of going to sleep (recurring nightmares)


  • for having "caused the rape" (IT IS NEVER THE VICTIM"S FAULT.)
  • for not resisting more, or not resisting enough
  • for being "stupid" enough to have gotten in that situation
  • for all the reactions one is having
  • for not being able to nurture others at the present time


  • at one's self for "letting it happen"
  • at one's significant other for not understanding, or not protecting him/her
  • at society and the system
  • at the assailant
  • about the total disruption of one's life


  • feeling "dirty," spoiled, humiliated
  • feeling like everyone can tell by looking at him/her


  • by the assailant if it was someone he/she trusted
  • by God
  • by the reactions of significant others, society, or the system


  • of one's ability to make good judgments
  • of men in general


  • feeling like one has lost all control over one's body and/or life
  • feeling helpless to make changes
  • feeling it will never get better
  • feeling totally victimized by the assault