Criminal Records Search
Trigger Warning: Sexual assault is a serious matter; if you have been sexually assaulted, the contents of this article may be triggering. The National Sexual Assault Hotline is available 24 hours a day at 1-(800)-656-4673; all victims are encouraged to contact them whenever they are ready.
Assault comes in a variety of anxiety-inducing flavors. Depending on the state, assault can be anything from implying a threat to physically touching another person. Sexual assault, however, is different from the other types of assault crimes because it is never the victim’s fault. In typical assault cases, the victim may be partially responsible, as they as when they provoke a situation. Sexual assault happens to the victim, so the aggressor is the only one to blame.
Sexual assault occurs when sexual contact or behavior happens without the victim’s explicit consent. A good sexual assault definition would also include additional factors like the expression of force and possible perpetrators; subsequent sections speak more about these factors and their relation to sexual assault as a crime.
Sexual assault can happen in various situations—some may not appear clear and immediate harassment in the moment. There are many types of sexual assault crimes that most people should be aware of, including:
But then there are the sexual assault crimes that happen without contact with a victim:
None of the previous examples speak about the whole picture either—sexual assault can happen anywhere, to anyone. Sometimes these assaults or harassment also occur in the work environment; unless these threats are seen as red flags, the aggressor may continue their behavior. Sexual harassment has happened in the workforce for many decades, so calling it out and correcting it is crucial.
For example, these are some common sexual assault examples in the workplace:
All forms of rape are sexual assault, but not all sexual assault is rape. Rape consists of the penetration of the victim’s anus or vagina with any object that is unwanted. Whether a situation involves rape depends on many elements, including consent, force, and the victim’s relation to the rapist.
All states have statutes that judges must follow to charge those indicted with sexual assault charges. Unfortunately, many states allow only a certain amount of time for the victims to report the incident. These periods are called "statutes of limitations" and can range from one to five years. The particular assault, its severity, and many other factors determine how long a victim has to report their rape.
Force is a deciding element of all sexual assaults; the aggressor forces themselves onto the victim in an unwanted, sexual way. Even in cases of perceived consent, the aggressor is still committing sexual assault (below). Force also plays a hidden factor in many other ways:
Eight out of ten sexual assaults are committed by someone known to the victim, called acquaintance assaults. Situations like assaults at work, school, and home, fall under this category. Only recently has marital rape been added to this list.
On the other side, stranger assaults are the term for assaults by unknown aggressors. Situations like this can happen in many ways. For example, there are blitz sexual assaults, where the aggressor quickly and brutally attacks the victim.
Sexual assault can happen to anyone, regardless of gender, race, religion, or creed. During the "Me Too" movement, many women came out about their experience with sexual assaults; as a byproduct, many men, nonbinary, and transgender people joined the fray. In some cases, these victims were met with dismissive answers, while others received the full fury of the internet. Victims of any sexual assault can come from anywhere—their only similarity is that they are victims.