Understanding Sexual Violence
Sexual violence is a form of crime that can affect anyone, regardless of gender, age, sexual orientation or background. It can be committed by a stranger or a family member, and it doesn’t necessarily involve physical violence. The effects of this crime may be long-lasting, including difficulty in re-establishing personal relationships and employment.
While the majority of sexual violence victims are women, there are also significant numbers of men and transgender individuals who have suffered from this form of crime. There are also high rates of sexual violence in children, adolescents and adults in their twenties and thirties. These incidences are grouped into four types of offences, including trafficking, incest, rape and sexual assault.
Almost everyone who has experienced this type of crime will react differently to the event. Some will feel ashamed, while others will heal at their own pace. However, no one should be judged for avoiding a rape or for failing to stop an attack. Everyone’s response is valid and healthy.
The perpetrator of sexual violence can be a stranger, an intimate partner, a family member, a friend, or a coworker. The offender’s actions can range from coercion, physical force, and psychological intimidation. They can be from any background, including any race, religion, ability, and disability status.
Usually, the victim is unable to consent to the sexual act. This can happen because of illness, intoxication, or disability. Another common reason is that the victim is too young to give consent. Depending on the situation, the offender could use threats of physical harm, dismissal, or not obtaining a job.
Sexual assault is a serious crime that has no justification. Despite its widespread public awareness, a large percentage of victims don’t report the incident to the authorities. In fact, only about 90 percent of victims know who their assailant is.
Most cases of sexual violence occur in a dark, unwelcoming setting. Often, the offender is a close family member or a trusted friend. Occasionally, the attacker is asleep. Other times, the offender will use drugs to incapacitate the victim.
One common misconception about sexual violence is that it is all about sexual desire. That is far from the truth. Rather, it is rooted in power, hostility and control. Survivors often suffer from severe psychological symptoms. If the symptoms persist, the survivor might need to seek therapy.
Many people who experience sexual assault are ashamed of the attack. Others assume that they were responsible for the assault, when it was actually the perpetrator’s fault. And in some cases, they believe that the offender was gay or homosexual.
Fortunately, the rate of false reports of rape is low. Studies have found that the number of false reports of rape is no different from the number of false reports of any other type of crime. Nevertheless, these false reports can have a significant impact on the community’s ability to respond.
Although sexual violence is always the victim’s fault, there are many steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of it occurring. The most effective prevention programs encourage accountability, empathy, and respectful interpersonal interactions. They also address attitudes about racism, gender bias, and oppression.