Most sexual assault advocates, such as those here at Skagit DVSAS, have strict confidentiality policies. This allows a survivor to safely and fully explore their options. They can also set up evidence collection (like a rape kit) and contact law enforcement, if needed and if you want to pursue your legal options. And, if you’re not exactly sure what to call the sexual violence you were the victim of, a counselor can help with defining it and getting a handle on the events. Advocates at agencies like ours are a good resource for survivors who might be too intimidated to navigate the legal and medical systems alone.
Survivors shouldn’t be afraid to report a crime, but should expect to be treated with respect and dignity and — most of all — should expect to be believed and supported. Each survivor is different and each survivor is the best judge of the best path forward for their individual circumstances. Our advocates will take the time to help you understand your options, safety plan and make decisions about next steps.
Just defining sexual assault can be a challenge. The US Dept of Justice defines it as, “any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient.” Webster’s definition: “illegal sexual contact that usually involves force upon a person without consent or is inflicted upon a person who is incapable of giving consent (as because of age or physical or mental incapacity) or who places the assailant (such as a doctor) in a position of trust or authority.”
However, the legal definition can vary, depending on which state you’re in and can even be different depending on where the assault happened. It’s very complex because of the way in which our laws are made. Some states explicitly define assault of a sexual nature and other do not, preferring to record that crime under different terminology. Here, we will look at what sexual assault is, and what it is not, as well as information on how to stay safe, heal, and reclaim your power.
Very generally speaking, sexual assault falls into one of three categories:
However, it can also have a much broader definition. Sexual harassment, for instance, can include creating a hostile environment, pervasive and unwanted jokes and comments, and behavior and body language that makes an individual feel harassed and unsafe.
Nonconsensual sexual contact or activity includes , but is not limited to: touching, kissing, exhibitionism, and intercourse—anal, vaginal, or oral. Sexual assault can take the form of:
In most extreme cases, sexual assault may involve force which may include but is not limited to:
Skagit DV & SA Services provides services to any victim of sexual assault or domestic violence, recent or past. We also assist family members and friends of those who have been assaulted or abused.
Those of us who work at Skagit DV & SA Services understand what you might be feeling as a victim of abuse: guilt, grief, fear, pain, anger, confusion, shame. We know it’s hard to sort out the truth. If you’re feeling helpless, blaming yourself, making excuses for the abuser, or avoiding friends and family, then maybe it’s time to call us: 360-336-9591
What we can do is help you:
….and much more.
We are here to help.