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Sexual Assault and Rape

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Terms and Concepts in Sexual Assault continued...

Postponing sexual interaction until both parties are sober, are of sound mind, and can communicate effectively about their feelings, is the correct course of action. Both parties will benefit from avoiding the serious consequences of sexual assault accusations.

Fear of reporting sexual assault, rape

Almost all people are fearful of the stigma and difficulty associated with reporting sexual assault and rape. This tendency must be faced and overcome. Sexual assault should always be reported and sexual assailants prosecuted and punished. Sexual predators and abusers are likely to act again, and the level of violence used is likely to increase with subsequent attacks. The law is remarkably protective of victims of sexual assault, and counseling is generally available. All of these factors should decrease the stress and fear associated with reporting. Although prosecution of sexual assault is not without problems, victims of sexual assault generally fare better psychologically if they cooperate with authorities to bring sexual assailants to justice.

Sexual harassment and sexual assault

Sexual harassment is unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. The key to determining sexual harassment is that the advances are unwelcome.

Many women are subject to varying degrees of sexual harassment in the workplace, schools, and other environments where they spend their time. All ages and both sexes can be affected by sexual harassment, but younger females are more vulnerable because of inexperience and fear of adults.

Sexual harassment usually occurs in a situation where the harasser has some sort of control or ability to dominate a person. While most cases of sexual harassment do not lead to sexual assault, directly informing the harasser that the conduct is unwelcome and must stop is imperative. The victim should use any and all demonstrative behaviors, employer complaint mechanisms, or grievance systems to terminate such unwelcome advances.

Harassers, when not confronted, can feel empowered to go further and set up situations in which other sexual activity or a sexual assault can occur. The importance of taking definitive action early decreases the small but documented potential for sexual harassment to turn into sexual assault.

Remorse, guilt, anger, and regrets after consensual sexual activity

Feelings of remorse, guilt, anger, and regrets about a particular consensual sexual encounter have led to many accusations of sexual assault. People, whether conscious or unconscious with clear memory or not, can have bad feelings after consensual intercourse and feel that they have been violated.

If they have a poor recollection or no recollection of what happened, people occasionally fill that void in memory with thoughts that they may have been or must have been sexually assaulted.

Even women who are conscious and uncompromised can be unclear about their desire for sexual intimacy and may engage in sexual activity at times when they are not sure what they are doing is right. Later, they may have regrets or remorse about what they have done for any number of reasons. Dates that did not work out as expected, bad behavior by the man after intimacy, or misunderstandings about the feelings of the other party can lead to vindictive behaviors, which occasionally can include allegation of sexual assault when none occurred.

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