Sexual assault occurs when a person is forced, coerced, and/or manipulated into any unwanted sexual activity. Sexual assault is an umbrella term that includes a wide range of victimizations which may or may not involve force or be illegal.
The dynamics of sexual assault are complicated. Typically, sexual assault is not about sex, but about manipulation, exploitation, and exerting power and control over another person. Sexual assault is a tool of sexism, or sexist oppression, and perpetrators use sexual assault as a weapon to humiliate and dominate others.
There is no one kind of person who experiences sexual assault. We know that sexual assault affects people from a wide variety of backgrounds. The stories and statistics show us that sexual assault crosses boundaries of race, class, culture, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, and sexuality. Perpetrators use sexual assault as tool of oppression. People who identify as members of oppressed or marginalized communities experience the intersections of other oppression (e.g. racism, homophobia) and sexual violence as well as greater rates of sexual assault.
Sexual assault affects every survivor differently, and each person’s response may be impacted by the nature of the assault, your individual and family history, or other life circumstances. There is no right way to react after a sexual assault, and you know best what choices are right for you. As you decide want you want to do next, remember that what happened to you is not your fault. The perpetrator alone is responsible for their actions.