What is Sexual Assault?

Sexual assault is any coerced sexual contact. It could be hugging, kissing, touching, or intercourse. The assailant may or may not be known to the victim.

If this has happened to you, it is important to understand the assault was not your fault. The assailant is responsible, regardless of any risks you took that might have increased your vulnerability.

Each person's reaction to being sexually assaulted is unique. You may be calm or upset, eager or reluctant to talk, willing or unwilling to take action, able to continue daily activities or in need of time and space to heal.

The profound personal invasiveness of sexual assault triggers distinctive responses in different people. Surviving and recovering from assault is a process, one in which strong emotions and psychological pain are often present.

Possible psychological and physical consequences include:

  • flashbacks, dreams, and intrusive recollections
  • depression, anxiety, mistrust, and social isolation
  • difficulty forming or maintaining healthy intimate relationships
  • denial and disassociation, mistrust of one's perceptions and memory
  • feelings of self-blame, guilt, and stigma
  • impulsive and self-destructive behavior
  • physical symptoms, sleeping and eating problems.