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What is Sexual Assault?
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:
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 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.
What is rape?
Rape is a form of sexual assault, but not all sexual assault is rape. Rape is defined 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.”
Link to “Sexual Assault” Information from RAINN – Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network
Was I Raped?
There are three main considerations in judging whether or not a sexual act is consensual or is a crime.
1) Are the participants old enough to consent?
In Alabama, 16 years old is the “age of consent,” which is the minimum age one must be to have sex. People below this age are considered children and cannot legally agree to have sex.
2) Do both people have the capacity to consent?
Those with diminished capacity — for example, some people with disabilities, some elderly people and people who have been drugged or are unconscious — may not have the legal ability to agree to have sex
3) Did both participants agree to take part?
Did someone use physical force to make you have sexual contact with him/her? Has someone threatened you to make you have intercourse with them? If so, it is rape. It doesn’t matter if you think your partner means yes, or if you’ve already started having sex — “No” also means “Stop.”
Link to “Was I Raped?” Information from RAINN – Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network
What consent does NOT look like:
Assuming that dressing sexy, flirting, accepting a ride, accepting a drink, etc. is in any way consenting to anything more.
Saying yes (or saying nothing) while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Saying yes or giving into something because you feel too pressured or too afraid to say no.
Red flags that indicate your partner doesn’t respect consent:
They pressure or guilt you into doing things you may not want to do.
They make you feel like you “owe” them – because you’re dating, or they gave you a gift, etc.
They react negatively (with sadness, anger or resentment) if you say “no” to something, or don’t immediately consent.
They ignore your wishes, and don’t pay attention to nonverbal cues that could show you’re not consenting (examples: pulling or pushing away).
Link to “What Consent Looks Like” Information from LoveIsRespect.org