Sexual assault, sexual violence, and sexual abuse are umbrella terms that include a wide range of victimizations. They describe the experience of a person who is forced, coerced, and/or manipulated into unwanted sexual activity. It can include completed or attempted attacks, may or may not involve force and threats, and it may or may not be illegal under state or federal law.
Sexual assault is a profound violation of a person’s body, sexuality, and sense of self and safety. The effects of sexual assault can last a lifetime, rippling out to family members, school and work communities and down through generations.
Sexual assault is part of a range of behaviors that abusers use to take power from their victims. It can begin with words, gestures, jokes, and intimidation. It can progress to coercion, threats and actions that involve sexual touching or intercourse, and may involve other forms of violence.
This definition of sexual assault is from the Washington State Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs.
Additional Resources about Sexual Assault: