WHAT IS SEXUAL ASSAULT? Sexual assault is a legal term as well as a phrase that pertains to unwanted sexual contact. State laws vary* but the most common phrase used to define sexual assault is “an act of sexual penetration or intrusion without a person’s consent.” Sexual assault occurs when sexual contact is not consensual.
WHAT IS PENETRATION? Sexual penetration or intrusion can be vaginal, oral, or anal by any body part or object.
WHO IS A PERPETRATOR? Sexual assault, including rape and attempted rape, can be completed by anyone, including an acquaintance, boyfriend or girlfriend, spouse, sibling, stranger, or gang.
WHAT IS RAPE? Rape is not a legal term in some states. Rape is a term commonly used to describe acts of unwanted penetration. An attempted rape may be considered a sexual assault.
WHAT IS CHILD SEXUAL ASSAULT? Sexual assault of a child involves subjecting a person under 15 years old to any sexual contact if the perpetrator is 4 or more years older than the victim; or having sexual contact with someone under 17 if the perpetrator is at least 10 years older.*
WHO IS A MINOR? Sexual contact with anyone under the age of 18 by a person in a position of power or trust is considered sexual assault on a child. These laws apply to minors even if they think they consented to the sexual contact. Fondling or touching without consent are unlawful sexual contacts. This is a crime whether or not the victim is clothed.
WHAT IS CONSENT? Consent means that there is cooperation in act and/or attitude and there is an exercise of free will, with knowledge of the nature of the act. A child cannot consent, nor can an impaired person. Having a current or previous relationship with the perpetrator does not automatically constitute consent. Giving in to an act out of fear is submission, not consent.
- State laws vary. Contact your state’s Coalition Against Sexual Assault, such as CCASA
Prepared by Lynn C. Tolson, author of Beyond the Tears: A True Survivor's Story