What is Sexual Assault?

Sexual Assault Defined

  • Sexual Violence is a broad term used to define the continuum of acts of violence.
  • The continuum of sexual violence includes rape, incest, child sexual assault, date and acquaintance rape, statutory rape, marital or partner rape, sexual exploitation, unwanted sexual contact, sexual harassment, exposure, and voyeurism.
  • Sexual violence is not about sex, but about power and control.
  • It is never the victim/survivor’s fault.
Sexual Assault Defined

The Statistics 

Sexual violence affects millions of people each year in the United States. Researchers know that the numbers underestimate this problem because many cases are unreported. Victims may be ashamed, embarrassed, or afraid to tell the police, friends, or family about the violence. Victims may also keep quiet because they have been threatened with further harm if they tell anyone or do not think that anyone will help them.

1 Sexual violence is common

More than 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced sexual violence involving physical contact during their lifetimes. Nearly 1 in 5 women and 1 in 38 men have experienced completed or attempted rape during their lifetime.

2 Sexual violence starts early

One in 3 female rape victims experienced it for the first time between 11-17 years old and 1 in 8 reported that it occurred before age 10. Nearly 1 in 4 male rape victims experienced it for the first time between 11-17 years old and about 1 in 4 reported that it occurred before age 10.

3 Sexual violence is costly

Recent estimates put the cost of rape at $122,461 per victim, including medical costs, lost productivity, criminal justice activities, and other costs.

Source: CDC, 2021

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Myths About Sexual Assault

Only women are affected by sexual assault and rape.

Truth: Sexual assault does not discriminate based on gender, sexuality, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, or religion. Rape affects us all, and at TCS, we provide services and support for all survivors.

Most rape accusations are false.

Truth: Studies show that approximately 2 percent of rape accusations are false, the same rate as for other crimes. If a survivor comes to you, always start by believing.

If someone is wearing a tight dress, drinking a lot, or flirting, they’re “asking for it.”

Truth: No one deserves to be raped, and it is never the victim’s fault. We need to hold the perpetrator accountable, not blame the victim.

Men rape because they can’t control themselves.

Truth: Sexual assault is about power and control, not sex, and everyone has the ability to respect other people’s boundaries.

Sexual assault is a private subject, and we should mind our own business.

Truth: If we stay silent, we choose the side of the oppressor. If you see something or hear something, say something.

By The Numbers

Additional Resources

Check out our available resources if you or a loved one has been impacted from sexual assault for ways to cope, heal, and seek empowerment.