Sexual assault refers to attempted, threatened, or actual sexual contact with a person without the consent of said person. This constitutes a crime that is punishable under the law. Sexual assault may take on different forms such as attempted or consummated rape, sexual touch or fondling, or forcing another person to perform sexual acts.
Statistics will tell you that each year, there are about 300,000 rape and sexual assault victims in the United States.
Some of the most common misconceptions of sexual assault are the following:
- Only women may be sexually assaulted.
While many of us think that only women can experience being sexually assaulted, this is a very wrong way of looking at the picture. There are also men who undergo sexual assault. In fact, as of 1998, about 2 million men experienced being sexually assaulted.
Just because men are physically stronger than women, this does not guarantee their safety from perpetrators of sexual assault.
- The victim is at fault if he/she did not stop the act.
One of the biggest misconceptions about sexual assault victims is the idea that these victims are at fault for not stopping the assault. Most people think that the only response human beings have when facing danger is the fight or flight response.
However, the truth of the matter is that many people freeze when faced with the situation. Not all people are the same; hence, the body’s reactions to these things will vary. Some people may choose to fight or some may freeze.
- It is easy for victims to report the assault.
There are many factors that may affect a victim’s actions right after experiencing sexual assault. Hence, it is not easy for victims to report their experience to the authorities. It is not as easy as telling your parents to set up your Christmas decorations at home.
In many cases, victims are threatened by their perpetrators; they threaten their lives or the lives of people who are important to the victims.
In other cases, victims may be too scared to report it for reasons relating to shame, attribution of blame, etc.
- Alcohol consumption and choice of clothes invites sexual assault.
Many people think that being drunk or dressing up provocatively are the ultimate reasons why sexual assault happens. This is one of the worst ways of looking at the situation. Simply put, sexual assault happens because the perpetrators exist; thus, even when people are sober and wrapped tightly with clothes that are far from being revealing, they may still be sexually assaulted.
What To Do
If you happen to be a victim of any type of sexual assault, it is normal for you to not know exactly what to do. Nonetheless, here are our suggestions.
- First and foremost, get to safety.
- Consider confiding a trusted person about your experience.
- Avoid the urge of bathing or cleaning yourself since bodily fluids and other traces the perpetrator left on your body may be used as evidence.
- Get medical help if it is needed.
- Take note of or write down the details of the incident.
- Consult with a legal counsel, like Richardson & Kucharski ,who specialize on criminal law.