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Sexual violence is any unwanted sexual contact forced upon an individual. This can include actions such as unwanted touching of genitals, groin, anus, breasts, voyeuristic behavior, exhibitionism, attempted rape, and rape. It may involve actual or threatened force, coercion, and/or intimidation. Sexual violence is never wanted and never includes consent.

Consent happens when all parties willingly and enthusiastically agree to any sexual act. The process is clear, direct, and ongoing throughout the entire experience. Consent may be withdrawn by any party at any time and that person does not need to have a reason. Coercive consent is not consent. Badgering is not consent. Force or threat of force is not consent. Fear of violence is not consent.

Responses to sexual assault can vary widely. Some individuals are very emotional and upset by the experience while others feel very numb and removed. Some individuals struggle with intimacy and contact while other seek out intimacy and contact. There is no “right” or “wrong” way for a victim to react.

Similar to domestic violence, sexual violence affects individuals regardless of age, education level, sexual preference, sexual identity, class, ethnicity, race, religion, marital status, etc.


Most perpetrators of rape are someone known to the victim, such as acquaintance, co-worker, friend, family member, or partner.

Rape and sexual assault are not about sex; they are about having dominance and control over the other person. In fact, most rapes are planned.

Sexual assault and rape have the same false reporting statistics as all other crimes and are some of the most underreported interpersonal crimes. If someone discloses to you that they have experienced sexual violence, believe them. Provide support, not advice. Refrain from asking a lot questions about what happened; many questions, though well-intentioned, imply the victim was somehow at fault for their assault. Instead, let them know you care about them and are there for them.

The Friendship Center can help victims who have experienced sexual violence as well as friends and family who are struggling with what happened to their loved one. Please reach out to our office or call our crisis line if you want to request services or simply talk about the situation.

To learn more about some of the key issues intersecting with domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking, visit our Resources page.

Image by Gerhard Kupfer

We Are Here to Help

If you need assistance with safety planning, getting an Order of Protection, accessing legal services, or would just like emotional support, The Friendship Center can help. If you or a loved one is struggling and want to request services or simply talk about the situation, reach out to our office. All our services are free and confidential.

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