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What is Sexual Violence?



Sexual Violence (SV) refers to sexual activity where consent is not obtained or freely given.  It occurs any time a person is forced, coerced or manipulated into any unwanted sexual activity.

There are many types of SV.  Not all include physical contact between the victim and the perpetrator (person who harms someone else).  The range of sexual violence includes:

  • Rape
  • Sexual Assault
  • Incest
  • Sexual Exploitation
  • Unwanted or Inappropriate Sexual Contact
  • Sexual Harassment
  • Exposure
  • Threats
  • Stalking/Cyberstalking
  • Peeping

Sexual Violence is a crime.  It is motivated by the need to control, humiliate, or harm.  It is not motivated by uncontrollable sexual desire.  Perpetrators of SV use sex as a weapon to dominate and hurt others.  Most survivors of SV knew their perpetrators before the assault.

Every 2 minutes someone is sexually assaulted in the United States.  However, it is widely believed that most SV cases are never reported to anyone.  This may be because victims are afraid to tell; they may think no one will believe them; they may be embarrassed; they may have been threatened with further harm if they tell anyone.  Unfortunately, many survivors may blame themselves or believe they did something to warrant the violence.   And some survivors might not even identify what happened to them as sexual violence – particularly if it was perpetrated by someone they know, respect, trust or love.   No one ever deserves sexual violence.  The blame lies solely with the perpetrator.

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