Sexual assault is woefully underreported, quite often due to fear of undeserved social consequences, but occasionally due to a lack of understanding as to what constitutes sexual abuse. Quite often, individuals limit their definition of sexual assault to rape—and while rape certainly is sexual assault, it isn’t the only way in which someone might be victimized.
Sexual assault covers several other forms of abuse, including attempted rape, forcing an individual to perform sexual actions against their will, or even unwanted fondling or touching. Each of these actions can leave physical and emotional scars on the person who suffered the abuse.
Sexual abuse isn’t always the result of someone physically forcing another person into sex. Emotional and psychological manipulation—and even threats—are also sometimes used as a precursor to sexual abuse.
While the majority of rapes and other sexual assaults are perpetrated by an acquaintance, rapes by strangers also occur. If you have been a victim of sexual abuse, it is essential that you report what happened and receive legal, emotional, and physical support. As you seek legal assistance and the support of sexual assault services, you will receive the help you need to move on from this traumatic event.
Regardless of the circumstances surrounding your sexual assault case, it is important to understand that you are not responsible for what happened. Only the perpetrator is to blame.