What Is Sexual Violence?
Sexual violence happens in every community and affects people of all genders and ages. Sexual violence is any type of unwanted sexual contact. This includes words and actions of a sexual nature against a person’s will and without their consent. A person may use force, threats, manipulation, or coercion to commit sexual violence such as rape, incest, sexual assault, unwanted touching, sex trafficking, and non-consensual image sharing.
What Is Consent?
Consent must be freely given and informed, and a person can change their mind at any time.
Consent is more than a yes or no. It is a dialogue about desires, needs, and level of comfort with different sexual interactions.
Choosing to violate another person is not about “drinking too much,” “trying to have a good time,” or ”getting carried away,” nor is it about the clothes someone was wearing, how they were acting, or what type of relationship they have with the person who abused them. Violating another person is a choice.
Who Does It Impact?
- Nearly one in five women in the United States have experienced rape or attempted rape some time in their lives.
- In the United States, one in 71 men have experienced rape or attempted rape.
- An estimated 32.3% of multiracial women, 27.5% of American Indian/Alaska Native women, 21.2% of non-Hispanic black women, 20.5% of non-Hispanic white women, and 13.6% of Hispanic women were raped during their lifetimes.
Rape Is Underreported
A person may choose not to report to law enforcement or tell anyone about a victimization they experienced for many reasons including:
- Fear of not being believed
- Being afraid of retaliation
- Shame or fear of being blamed
- Pressure from others
- Distrust towards law enforcement
- A recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that individual victims of sexual violence incur $122,461 over a lifetime in costs associated with lost wages, health, criminal justice, and property damage. Additional research shows that sexual violence can derail a person’s education and employment, resulting in a $241,600 income loss over a lifetime.
- Sexual assault and the related trauma response can disrupt survivors’ employment in several ways, including time off, diminished performance, job loss, and inability to work.
- In 2015, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alone recovered $164.5 million for workers alleging harassment.