Although sexual assault has been getting a lot of widespread media attention and there have been plenty of public conversations surrounding it, the official definition of sexual assault, according to the law, isn’t always clear. Many people may still have questions about what is considered sexual assault—especially since it is often used as an umbrella term to encompass a wide variety of different sexual acts.
What Does Sexual Assault Entail?
The sexual assault definition is as any sexual act that violates the victim’s sexual integrity. Sexual assault is non-consensual and does not depend on any specific part of the human body. A non-consensual sexual act is anything that lacks consent—or the voluntary agreement of all parties involved.
For a sexual act to be considered consensual, an individual’s consent must be ongoing and voluntary. Even if someone were to agree to a sexual act, it wouldn’t be considered consensual if they did so out of fear or because they’ve been threatened. The same can be said if an individual was extremely intoxicated and not capable of providing a valid consent. However, it should be noted that a drunken or drug-impaired person can still consent to consensual relations. The issue is whether their degree of drunkenness or drug-impaired state prevents them from consenting. For example, a person who is falling down drunk may not be capable of providing a valid consent.
If you are extremely intoxicated, pressured, threatened, or intimidated into engaging in a sexual act, then it is not consensual and would fall under the guidelines of sexual assault.
A few common examples of sexual assault include unwanted touching, kissing, intercourse, or oral sex. In a sexual assault case, investigators consider factors such as:
- The part of the body that was touched
- The nature of the contact
- Any words or gestures that accompanied the sexual act
- Any verbal threats (which may or may not include physical force)
- The situation where the contact occurred
- Any other circumstances surrounding the sexual act
Similar to sexual assault, some people may have questions about what is sexual abuse. While these terms have some overlap and may be used interchangeably in some cases, sexual abuse often refers to sexual assault that occurs against children or minors. Sexual abuse is sexual assault, but investigators or lawyers may use it when they want to be more specific about the circumstances of the assault.
However, when an adult experiences sexual assault by the same person for an extended period, investigators may sometimes refer to it as “sexual abuse.”
Categories of Sexual Assault
Since the term “sexual assault” can be so broad, it’s generally narrowed down into three categories:
- Penetration Crimes: Penetration of a body part with another body part or with an object
- Contact with genitalia, breasts, buttocks, or other intimate body parts
- Exposure of the genitalia, breasts, buttocks, or other intimate body parts
Types of Sexual Assault
Although sexual assault can be narrowed down into three different categories, there are also a few different types of sexual assault as well:
Sexual Assault With a Weapon or Causing Bodily Harm
- Anyone who, while committing sexual assault, carries, uses, or threatens to use a weapon
- Anyone who threatens or causes bodily harm during a sexual assault
Aggravated Sexual Assault
- Anyone who, in the process of committing a sexual assault, wounds, maims disfigures or endangers the life of the victim
Myths About Sexual Assault
Despite the clear guidelines of sexual assault, there are still plenty of myths circulating the internet about what is and what isn’t sexual assault such as:
“It’s okay to force someone to have sex with you if they’re wearing provocative clothing, agree to go on a date with you, or they’re drunk.”
Since sexual acts must be consensual, someone who is extremely intoxicated is not able to provide consent. Furthermore, agreeing to go on a date or wearing revealing clothing does not translate to consent for sexual activity.
“Males are always the ones who commit sexual assault.”
It’s a common myth that men only ever commit sexual assault or that women are the only ones who can be victims of sexual assault. While a larger portion of sexual assault victims are female, 9% of rape victims are male.
One in three women will report some form of sexual assault or violence in their lifetime, but so will one in six men. Around 4% of the perpetrators who sexually abuse children are women. Since male sexual assault cases tend to go unreported a lot more, it can feed into the myth that men are never victims or that women are never perpetrators.
“Sexual assault is usually committed by a complete stranger.”
Another rumor that circulates about sexual assault is that it only happens with someone you don’t know. However, this is usually not the case. In 8 out of 10 sexual assault cases, the victim knows the aggressor.
In male sexual assault cases, over half of the victims report being assaulted by someone they know while only 15% by a stranger. Although some victims may be sexually assaulted by strangers, assault is far more likely to happen with someone that you know—whether it be a friend, family member, or even an intimate partner.
What to Keep in Mind About Sexual Assault
If you have been charged with a sexual assault, you need to find the best possible lawyer to represent you. Reach out to Kruse Law to confidentially examine your case with one of our experienced sexual assault lawyers. Even if you decide not to retain us, you will receive some good legal advice regarding what to expect as your case proceeds through the court system.
We understand how serious and devastating being charged with sexual assault is. if you retain our services we will do everything in our power to either win your case or obtain the best possible outcome for you. Contact us today.