Define Sexual Assault

I wish some of this material could be posted directly here, but it is all under full copyright. Resources are not available to purchase the material or the rights to republish it. But here are direct links to the exact information.

Definition of Rape

Any type of penetration (using body parts, objects, etc.) of any body orifice (nostrils, anus, etc.) perpetrated by one person on another by the use of intimidation, force, violence, or victim’s lack of consent (i.e., a person who is drunk, drugged, or developmentally disabled, for example).

Differentiating between the terms rape and sexual assault

The word rape has been used historically to refer only to penile-vaginal rape. Today it is often replaced by the term sexual assault to apply to a wider range of types of assaults committed by both sexes, on both sexes. Groping and harassment are defined as types of sexual assault, but they’re not types of rape. So the difference between the terms is technical: Rape in its strictest sense refers to penile-vaginal or penile-anal rape, while sexual assault has a much broader meaning and includes all kinds of sexually-based attacks. All are devastating.

Be aware that in many cases, the two terms are used interchangeably. If you’re attentive to context this won’t be a problem.

Definitions and research

The American Medical Association has prepared a terrific report defining and describing sexual assault. Read the first paragraph of the report on page 4 in particular. About 20 percent of women–one in every five–have been sexually assaulted by age 21. This is based on estimates, because the reporting rate on rape is so much lower than the actual number of rapes that occur.

Also read the Medem article from the ACOG Educational Bulletin called “Definitions of Sexual Assault”–at least the first few paragraphs–to learn more about the definition and get statistics about different kinds of sexual assault. (ACOG stands for American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists–the first national medical group of its kind to recognize rape as a public health issue.)

The information founds at these links above will tell you that not all rape is committed by men, and that is true. The vast majority of rapes are committed by men, but a small minority of rapes are committed by women. I can’t help thinking how much money the U.S. (government, companies, communities, and individuals) could save if we could find a way to use funding to prevent men from raping women, instead of just helping victims recover after the fact.

As a country, we’re spending a truckload of money on all sorts of victim assistance programs–worthy programs that currently need to continue–but I can’t find any federal bills like this aimed at actually preventing men from raping women. No training programs, no national tours by respected male athletes or other public figures, no TV commercials, nothing. It all seems aimed at women. Research shows that that’s because women listen. They need to listen for their own safety. Men as a gender won’t go to a “Stop Rape Now” type of event because they don’t need to–they’re generally not in danger of being raped. And a rapist is certainly not going to attend. Other solutions have to be created and funded.

A couple of years ago I conducted a highly unscientific straw poll of my male friends, asking them what could be done to prevent male sexual assault of women (not merely treat the victims afterward). One said there wasn’t any way to prevent it. Another suggested that the only way to get to a rapist before he raped someone was to “train him from birth.” A third thought a moment and said, “A gun.” All took the issue seriously, but none were even willing to go as far as confronting other males on sexually entitled behavior, assaults with alcohol, or sexual bullying. Male-to-male confrontation is a vital part of the fight against rape.

Although this was unscientific, it was exactly the correct first step we need to take in the U.S. (Our country is very near the bottom of the list among First World countries for its high sexual assault rate, rape penalties, and conviction rate.) Ask men how to prevent rape, including (especially) asking rapists. Listen to their answers. Begin formulating plans.

Whatever our views, we can contribute very effectively to this issue for the future by

  • raising our sons never to commit or accept violence against women, and by
  • raising our daughters to expect never to be violated, and to reject permanently and at the first occurrence all men who do violence to them. That’s right–no second chances. Your daughter is worth it. Your mother, your sister, your girlfriend or wife, is worth so much that she should not tolerate violence. Period. This doesn’t cut the man off from having love in his life. It gives him the chance and the motivation to change his ways, find another person to love, and not do violence to her.
  • It has come to my attention that the above concept wasn’t explained or clear for marriage or a committed relationship. Within that type of relationship, you wouldn’t necessarily end the entire relationship with the first episode of violence. But you would leave immediately for your own safety. Then, as is commonly and wisely advised, you would communicate to the violent partner (be prudent–just leave a letter behind) that if they want the relationship to continue, they must go to individual therapy, join in couples counseling when the therapist says they’re ready, and not pressure you to return to the relationship. The goal here is a permanently zero-violence relationship–a completely reasonable requirement of any civilized partner who truly loves you. A therapist of course can’t guarantee zero violence, but can work extensively with the violent partner to develop new and better habits and make sure those habits are in place before putting you two together again. When the therapist indicates the time is right, you should begin couples counseling together at the same time your partner is still in therapy for the violence. The two of you will probably be advised not to live together until both types of therapy have progressed far enough.
  • Please note: A violent partner’s promises to stop being violent or go to therapy are not an acceptable substitute for actual therapy. Study after study has shown that the violence continues. Sadly, in many cases, the violence only ends with death. You must leave. This keeps you (and your children, if any) safe, and it puts the pressure of the violent relationship on the violent partner, where it belongs.
  • A note for anyone who has experienced partner violence: Nothing you do excuses your partner’s violence, and you don’t deserve it. If your partner blames your behavior for his/her violence, that’s a way of making you take the responsibility and pay the price for someone else’s actions. It’s the equivalent of a three-year-old hitting his mother, and when his mother says, “No, you mustn’t hit Mommy,” the three-year-old replies, “Bad Mommy!” Blaming the victim is classic behavior for a violent partner.
  • The zero-tolerance policy never changes–no one gets a free pass to be violent to you–but your handling of the situation will be different depending on the relationship.

If we trained our children with the “zero tolerance for violence” policy, it would make a tremendous difference in our national crime statistics for the next generation.

Here are outstanding books I’ve personally read on the subjects of self-defense. I can also recommend from personal experience the Impact/BAMM self-defense courses.

For emergencies, crises, referrals, or emotional support (all confidential):

  • Emergency number: If you are assaulted or in imminent danger, call 911 directly.
  • (For the record: If a man is standing outside your locked door–especially if he’s armed with a gun or knife–trying to break it down and yelling that he’s going to kill you, that’s imminent danger. Call 911.)
  • (For the record 2: If a man is standing outside your locked door, unarmed, trying to break it down and yelling anything threatening whatsoever at you, that’s imminent danger too. Call 911.
  • National rape hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). For TDD call 1-800-787-3224.
  • RAINN national rape hotline (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network): 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).
  • SARA hotline (Sexual Assault Resource Agency): 1-434-977-7273.
  • Disturbing statistics on their home page, unfortunately accurate.
  • Victim hotline (National Center for Victims of Crime–open for calls from 8:30 am-8:30 pm Monday through Friday): 1-800-FYI-CALL (394-2255)

3 Responses

  1. Thanks for information.
    many interesting things

  2. Rape is also about being knowledgeable about what you are doing to the victim

  3. Rape as a technical term is not dependent on the knowledge or understanding of the rapist. It is the straightforward fact of forced sexual contact. Where understanding of wrongdoing might come in is when, for example, a rapist has a handicap-level IQ. If so, this is taken into account in legal sentencing, but it doesn’t change the simple fact that someone raped someone else.

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