Click on the section below to find information associated with that topic.
None of the content of this page is a substitute for an experienced attorney.
Every 73 seconds, an American is Sexually Assaulted.
Sexual violence affects hundreds of thousands of Americans each year. While we’re making progress — the number of assaults has fallen by more than half since 1993 — even today, only 5 out of every 1,000 rapists will end up in prison.
Sexual assault can take many different forms, but one thing remains the same: it’s never the victim’s fault.
The term sexual assault refers to sexual contact or behavior that occurs without explicit consent of the victim. Some forms of sexual assault include:
Fondling or unwanted sexual touching
Forcing a victim to perform sexual acts, such as oral sex or penetrating the perpetrator’s body
Penetration of the victim’s body, also known as rape
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.”
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.
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 never to blame for the actions of a perpetrator.
Sexual assault is defined as any unwanted, forced, or coerced sexual contact without the consent or against the will of another person. It can range from inappropriate touching to penetration.
Anyone. Sexual assault survivors are men, women, members of the LGBTQ community, children, the elderly, people with mental and/or physical disabilities. Sexual assault happens in every community.
You have several options for reporting sexual assault:
Call 911. If you are in immediate danger, dial 911. Help will come to you, wherever you are.
Contact the local police department. Call the direct line of your local police station or visit the station in person. If you are on a college campus you may also be able to contact campus-based law enforcement.
Visit a medical center. If you are being treated for injuries resulting from sexual assault, tell a medical professional that you wish to report the crime. You can also choose to have a sexual assault forensic exam. To find an appropriate local health facility that is prepared to care for survivors, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline 800.656.HOPE (4673).
There is no limitation on when a victim can report a crime to police. However, in many states, there is a limitation on when charges can be filed and a case can be prosecuted. This is called the statute of limitations. Statutes of limitation vary by state, type of crime, age of the victim, and various other factors. Visit RAINN’s State Law Database to learn more about the criminal statutes of limitation where you are.
For the State Law Database go to https://apps.rainn.org/policy/ and enter your zip code.