Sexual activity should always be safe, sane and consensual. However, this does not always happen – for a wide variety of reasons. When sexual activity occurs without consent, it is sexual assault.
For many, the term sexual assault usually equates to rape. However, the term sexual assault can involve any type of unwanted (non-consensual) sexual activity including:
- inappropriate touching
- vaginal, anal, or oral penetration
- sexual intercourse or actions that you say no to
- attempted rape
- child molestation
Sexual assault can be “verbal, visual, or anything that forces a person to join in unwanted sexual contact or attention. Examples of this are voyeurism (when someone watches private sexual acts), exhibitionism (when someone exposes him/herself in public), incest (sexual contact between family members), and sexual harassment.”
According to the law, sexual assault is “sexualized contact (sometimes referred to as carnal knowledge) with another person without consent and by force (compulsion).” This force doesn’t have to be physical – it can also be through fear, deception, coercion, or the use of intoxicants such as alcohol and drugs.
However, sexual assault laws vary by state and can include laws about age of consent (sometimes called statutory rape laws), types of sexual assault, and level of punishment for the different types of sexual assault.
Indiana state law defines rape as genital penetration between members of the opposite sex, while leaving definitions of other forms of sexual misconduct vaguer. Other states and many survivors have a more general definition of rape.
Regardless of the sexual act, everyone has a right to not consent, or revoke consent. Violations of that right are considered sexual assault.