Sexual Assault can happen to anyone regardless of appearance, age, race, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, relationship/marital status, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, etc.
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Sexual Assault is a crime of power and control. It involves sexual contact or behavior that occurs without consent.
It is important to note that compliance DOES NOT equal consent!! Here are some tactics a person can use to gain compliance:
- Coercion: pressuring someone into sexual activity, either by attempts to persuade them or not giving them the option to say NO
- Manipulation: using exploitative, deceptive or abusive tactics used to engage someone in sexual activity
- Intimidation: inducing fear or a sense of inferiority into someone in order to engage them in sexual activity
- Use of drugs and/or alcohol: influencing or forcing someone to ingest drugs and/or alcohol with the intent to engage them in sexual activity
Sexual Assault is NEVER the victim's fault!
Some offenders use what are called "grooming techniques or behaviors".
Grooming is the predatory act of maneuvering another individual into a position that makes them more isolated, dependent, likely to trust and more vulnerable to abusive behavior.
- Targeting a victim. Perpetrators will often target a victim they feel they can manipulate.
- Gaining trust. They may be overly friendly or generous, or appear to have similar interests as the victm.
- Testing boundaries. They will invade the victim's personal space in order to gauge their response. The perpetrator will exploit responses of fear, passivity, desire to please, need to fit in, etc.
- Increase vulnerability. The perpetrator may "feed" or offer a lot of alcohol/drugs to their victim while drinking less themselves. Alcohol is the number one date rape drug.
- Physical isolation. This could be isolation from a group of friends who are out for the night or it could be isolation from friends and family over time.
- Initiation of assault.
- Be aware of your boundaries. Know what your boundaries are and respect them.
- Use caution around someone you may have only just met, who pays you too many compliments, gives you too much attention, demands too much of your time, shares too much information, or tries to swear you to secrecy.
- Trust your gut. If something doesn't feel right, it probably isn't.
- Find an excuse to leave a situation if you feel uncomfortable.
- Learn to say no, and mean it. This can be hard when we are socialized to be "polite." It is okay to say no or to let someone know you're not okay with that is happening.
- Remind yourself you are not to blame for what a predator is attempting to do to you!