Sexual violence affects women, men and children throughout their lives and can be devastating for individuals, families, and communities. Help is available. Together, we can change the conditions that contribute to sexual violence.

What is Sexual Violence?

Sexual violence refers to any sexual activity where consent is not obtained or freely given. This can include words and actions of a sexual nature against a person’s will.

People may use force, threats, manipulation or coercion to commit sexual violence. Sexual violence can be committed without the knowledge or consent of the victim, or against a person who is unable to consent.

“Together, we can change the conditions that contribute to sexual violence..”

Anyone can experience or perpetrate sexual violence. Offenders are usually someone known to the victim and can be a friend, intimate partner, coworker, classmate, neighbor, or family member of the victim. They are adolescents, adults and elders, and may victimize people of the opposite gender or their own. Some forms of sexual violence may not be legally considered a crime, but this does not make the act(s) any less harmful.

Forms of Sexual Violence

  • Rape
  • Sexual assault
  • Child sexual abuse
  • Incest
  • Date and acquaintance rape
  • Grabbing or groping
  • Sexting without permission
  • Ritual abuse
  • Commercial sexual exploitation (Example: human trafficking)
  • Exposure and voyeurism
  • Forced participation in the production or viewing of pornography
  • Any other unwanted sexual act

What We Can do to Prevent Sexual Violence?

Create safe communities for children.

  • Talk with children about their bodies and respect when a child does not want to give or receive physical affections such as a hug, kiss, or high-five.
  • Take action steps when adults act inappropriately with a child or children.
  • Contact support services if you suspect abuse or a child discloses abuse with you.

Create safe communities for everyone.

  • Promote and share respectful behaviors.
  • Take action steps when you hear someone, a family member, friend, or co-worker, make inappropriate comments or engages in victim blaming.
  • Support victims and survivors of sexual assault by sharing information on sexual violence and how sexual assault is a choice made by the perpetrator.

Practice healthy relationships and interactions.

  • Practice consent. Consent means both people actively agree with what they are doing together. Consent is best recognized when it is verbalized AND shows a “yes.” A simple, “Are you OK with this?” works just fine.
  • Practice communication. Answer honestly and verbally when someone asks you for consent.
  • Silence, “No,” or physically resisting means things need to stop and consent is NOT given.