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Sexual Abuse and Assault Against Women

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Sexual assault and abuse is any type of sexual activity that you do not agree to, including:

  • inappropriate touching
  • vaginal, anal, or oral penetration
  • sexual intercourse that you say no to
  • rape
  • attempted rape
  • child molestation

Sexual assault can be verbal, visual, or anything that forces a person to join in unwanted sexual contact or attention. Examples of this are voyeurism (when someone watches private sexual acts), exhibitionism (when someone exposes him/herself in public), incest (sexual contact between family members), and sexual harassment. It can happen in different situations, by a stranger in an isolated place, on a date, or in the home by someone you know.

Rape is a common form of sexual assault. It is committed in many situations—on a date, by a friend or an acquaintance, or when you think you are alone. Educate yourself on “date rape” drugs. They can be slipped into a drink when a victim is not looking. Never leave your drink unattended—no matter where you are. Try to always be aware of your surroundings. Date rape drugs make a person unable to resist assault and have a type of memory loss so the victim doesn’t know what happened.

Violence against women by any one is always wrong, whether the abuser is someone you date; a current or past spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend; a family member; an acquaintance; or a stranger. You are not at fault. You did not cause the abuse to occur, and you are not responsible for the violent behavior of someone else. If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, seek help from other family members and friends or community organizations. Reach out for support or counseling. Talk with a health care provider, especially if you have been physically hurt. Learn how to minimize your risk of becoming a victim of sexual assault or sexual abuse before you find yourself in an uncomfortable or threatening situation. And, learn about how to get help for sexual assault and abuse below. Another important part of getting help is knowing if you are in an abusive relationship. There are clear signs to help you know if you are being abused.

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