Frequently Asked Questions
Trigger warning for discussion of sexual violence.
These questions are partly based on search phrases people have used to find this blog. The answers are based on the best information I have at the time of writing. I’ll update this FAQ as I’m able. Meanwhile, if you have specific questions you think I might be able to answer, feel free to leave them in the comments below, and I’ll get to them as soon as I can.
Someone touched me in a sexual way without my permission. Is that sexual assault? How do I know if I’ve been sexually assaulted?
Consent is key. Any sexual contact without your consent counts as sexual assault. If someone touches your breasts, butt, vulva, or penis intentionally without your express consent, they are committing sexual assault. Other types of sexual assault include being humped and having your clothing removed against your will. If you think you may have been sexually assaulted but aren’t sure because you were drugged or just asleep and woke up feeling violated, consider visiting the ER and asking them to perform a forensic exam or “rape kit” to determine whether any evidence exists. This is optional, but important if you plan to pursue legal action (also your choice, no matter what anyone tells you).
If someone has sexually assaulted you, the first things to know are you are not alone and it’s not your fault.
You are not alone.
Sexual assault can happen to anyone, and has happened to far too many of us. If you are a victim and need advice and support, people are waiting to help. You can talk to someone online, or call the number below. RAINN also lists a number of resources for survivors on their website.
It’s not your fault.
Nothing you did made that person assault you—they made a choice to assault you and treat your body as though you have no say over what happens to it. That is never ok, whether it’s a boyfriend/girlfriend, a friend, a relative, a teacher. Not everyone who commits sexual assault is destined to be a repeat abuser, but it’s important to note that serial abusers can be skilled manipulators and will often attempt to convince their victims to accept responsibility for the assault. Remember that no matter what they say, it’s not your fault.
Was it rape if I didn’t scream/fight?
When it comes to rape and sexual assault, the only thing that matters is consent. If you didn’t consent to a sexual act, it was sexual assault at the very least, even if you didn’t say “no,” scream for help, or fight back. There are many reasons victims choose not to fight or scream, and some are simply unable to do either.
The legal definition of rape vs. sexual assault varies from state to state; you can find definitions of various forms of sexual violence on the RAINN site.
Why does my teacher (or other adult) touch me?
If you are a minor (under 18 years of age) and your teacher (or any adult) is touching you in a sexual way (that is, touching your genitals or breasts or making you touch his or her genitals or breasts), they are breaking the law and betraying your trust. Other kinds of touching (including excessive touching of a non-sexual nature) can be inappropriate as well.
Please call the National Child Sexual Abuse Hotline for help, or tell an adult you trust what is happening to you so they can help you.
National Child Sexual Abuse Hotline
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