What is Rape/Sexual Assault?

What it includes:

A sexual assault is any unwanted sexual contact or behavior that happens without consent. Most criminal offenses require use of force or threat of force, and coercion. Sexual assault also includes sexual activity with someone who cannot consent, such an individual who is drunk, high, passed out, intellectually disabled, or under the age of legal consent.

Sexual violence includes:

  • Rape
  • Attempted rape
  • Sexual assault
  • Unwanted touching or groping
  • Sexual contact with a child
  • Incest

Sexual assault can also include unwanted sexual attention and verbal or visual behaviors, such as:

  • Sexual harassment and threats
  • Voyeurism or peeping
  • Exhibitionism or public exposure of private parts
  • Sexual exploitation, such as forcing someone to pose for pictures
  • Sexually obscene communication, either in person, by phone, texting, email or other use of social media


  • Means a clear “yes” to sexual activity, knowing and understanding what is going on and what you want to do
  • Is an ongoing process, which means you can change your mind and choose to stop at any point
  • Does not mean future consent. Saying yes to sexual activity in the past does not mean you have to give consent now or in the future.
  • Is for the types of sexual activities you are comfortable with, not a consent for all types of sexual activity.

Not “fighting back” does not mean that there is consent.

Many people who feel fearful for their safety may feel “frozen” and unable to move, or may feel it is safer to offer no resistance.

What is sexual coercion?

Sexual coercion involves social or emotional pressure to force you into unwanted sexual activity. This can include:

  • Making you feel bad, guilty or obligated
  • Making you feel it’s too late to say no
  • Telling you that not having sex will harm your relationship
  • Threatening to spread rumors about you or lying
  • Threatening your family, your job, your school or career

Some cases of sexual coercion may be against the law and others may not. Sexual coercion may violate workplace or school policies. Consider talking to someone about what happened or what is happening. Sexual coercion is not your fault. If you or your family is in physical danger try to get away from the person as quickly as possible. Call 911 if you are in immediate danger.

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