It’s hard to know what to do, how to feel, or what your options are after a sexual assault. Please know that you’re not alone. Below are some things to keep in mind. If you are in immediate danger or seriously injured, call 911.
Your safety is important. Are you in a safe place? If you’re not feeling safe, consider reaching out to someone you trust for support. You don’t have to go through this alone, Get Help Now! When you call, you will be provided with information about receiving medical attention, your reporting options and how to preserve evidence.
What happened was not your fault. Something happened to you that you didn’t want to happen—and that’s not OK.
You don't have to do this alone. We are here for you.
Victim Witness Services for Coconino County is a "Start By Believing" agency.
The most common form of sexual violence victims deal with is sexual assault. Sexual assault is a crime of power and control. The term sexual assault refers to sexual contact or behavior that occurs without explicit consent of the victim. Some forms of sexual assault include:
Penetration of the victim’s body, also known as rape
Forcing a victim to perform sexual acts, such as oral sex or penetrating the perpetrator’s body
Fondling or unwanted sexual touching
What is rape?
Rape is a form of sexual assault, but not all sexual assault is rape. The term rape is often used as a legal definition to specifically include sexual penetration without consent. For its Uniform Crime Reports, the FBI defines rape as “penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.” To see how your state legally defines rape and other forms of sexual assault, visit RAINN's State Law Database.
Women and girls are the vast majority of victims: nearly 1 in 5 women – or nearly 22 million – have been raped in their lifetimes (The White House Council, 2014).
1 in 71 men – or almost 1.6 million – have been raped during their lives (The White House Council, 2014).
Nearly half of female survivors were raped before they were 18, and over one-quarter of male survivors were raped before they were 10 (The White House Council, 2014).
What is force? Force doesn’t always refer to physical pressure. Perpetrators may use emotional coercion, psychological force, or manipulation to coerce a victim into non-consensual sex. Some perpetrators will use threats to force a victim to comply, such as threatening to hurt the victim or their family or other intimidation tactics.
Who are the perpetrators? The majority of perpetrators are someone known to the victim. Approximately 2/3 of sexual assaults are committed by someone known to the victim, such as in the case of intimate partner sexual violence or acquaintance rape.
Nearly 1 in 10 women in the United States (9.4%) has been raped by an intimate partner in her lifetime, and an estimated 16.9% of women and 8.0% of men have experienced sexual violence other than rape by an intimate partner at some point in their lifetime.
More than half (51.1%) of female victims of rape reported being raped by an intimate partner and 40.8% by an acquaintance; for male victims, more than 1 half (52.4%) reported being raped by an acquaintance and 15.1% by a stranger. -The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey | 2010 Summary Report | Executive Summary
The term “date rape” is sometimes used to refer to acquaintance rape. Perpetrators of acquaintance rape might be a date, but they could also be a classmate, a neighbor, a friend’s significant other, or any number of different roles. It’s important to remember that dating, instances of past intimacy, or other acts like kissing do not give someone consent for increased or continued sexual contact.
In other instances the victim may not know the perpetrator at all. This type of sexual violence is sometimes referred to as stranger rape. Stranger rape can occur in several different ways:
Blitz sexual assault: when a perpetrator quickly and brutally assaults the victim with no prior contact, usually at night in a public place
Home invasion sexual assault: when a stranger breaks into the victim's home to commit the assault
Contact sexual assault: when a perpetrator contacts the victim and tries to gain their trust by flirting, luring the victim to their car, or otherwise trying to coerce the victim into a situation where the sexual assault will occur
Survivors of both stranger rape and acquaintance rape often blame themselves for behaving in a way that encouraged the perpetrator. It’s important to remember that the victim is a never to blame for the actions of a perpetrator.