What is Sexual Violence?

There are many actions that fall into the category of sexual violence: cat-calls, lewd comments, jokes, touching, groping, sexual harassment, sexual assault, sexual exploitation and coercion, incest, childhood sexual abuse, and rape. Sexual violence can be perpetrated against anyone and by anyone. It happens to people of every race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability status, and economic status. Sexual violence is a widespread and destructive force in the world, and here at The Center for Hope and Healing we are working to eliminate it from our community. Sexual violence is not a single issue and does not occur in a vacuum; therefore, it is necessary to make the connection between sexual violence and larger systems of oppression. The roots of oppression are designed to ensure an unequal distribution of social, economic, personal and political power. Those individuals who benefit (knowingly or unknowingly) from these systems of oppression carry certain privileges in our society.

Survivors of sexual violence are affected by many forms of oppression, including racism, sexism, classism, heterosexism, ageism, ableism and others. These forms of oppression often compound the effects of sexual victimization, exacerbating the trauma and isolation survivors experience.


Types of Sexual Violence

The term “sexual violence” is an all-encompassing, non-legal term that refers to crimes like sexual assault, rape, and sexual abuse. Many of these crimes are described below. Please note that the legal definition of crimes vary from state to state. There are often other crimes and forms of violence that arise jointly with crimes like sexual assault, and these are described as well.


Effects of Sexual Assault and Rape

In the aftermath of a sexual assault or rape, survivors can face extremely difficult and painful emotions and experiences. Every survivor responds to traumatic events in their own way. The effects of the trauma can be short-term or last long after the sexual assault or rape.


Sexual Assault Statistics