Was I sexually assaulted?
The term sexual assault refers to sexual contact or behavior that occurs without explicit consent of the victim. There are many types of sexual assault including penetration of a person’s body (rape), sodomy, fondling or unwanted sexual touching, forcing a victim to perform sexual acts, such as oral sex or penetrating the perpetrator’s body. Sometimes people are sexually violated even though the perpetrator never touches them through acts such as exhibitionism, voyeurism, and child pornography.
What if I knew the person who did this?
Sexual assault often occurs when the perpetrator and the victim/survivor have a pre-existing relationship of some kind (acquaintance, dating, marriage, family, coworker, other). It does not matter whether the other person is an ex-lover or total stranger, and it doesn’t matter if you’ve had sex with the person in the past.
What if my body had a sexual response?
While it doesn’t always happen, experiencing a sexual response during an assault is the body’s natural physiological reaction. It is not an indication that you “asked for it” or enjoyed the assault. It is not an indicator or sexual preference.
What if the person gave me or my child gifts or special favors?
If you do not want to enter into a sexual relationship with someone else, or if you felt force, then it was not consensual. Perpetrators will often purposefully make you feel like you owe them something in order to coerce you into sexual activity. Accepting gifts or favors does not mean you consented to sexual activity.
What if my child or I didn’t physically resist or fight back?
There is no wrong way to respond to sexual violence. There are many ways to respond to sexual violence to survive psychologically and physically. Just because you didn’t physically resist doesn’t mean that it wasn’t sexual assault. In fact, many victims/survivors make a conscious decision that physical resistance would cause the perpetrator to become more violent. Also, many victims experience a freeze response during an assault. During those times, their brain and body are so overloaded with the stress of the assault that they may feel “shut down” making fighting back very difficult or physically impossible.