Linkage to Care Takeover: Sexual Assault

Disclaimer: If you have experienced any form of sexual assault, we encourage you to call RAINN’s (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network) National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673). They’re available 24/7 and also have an online chat if you’re not comfortable actually speaking to someone on the phone.

Sexual Harassment

Sexual is behavior characterized by the making of unwelcome and inappropriate sexual remarks or physical advances in a workplace or other professional or social situation. (

Harassment does not have to be of a sexual nature, however, and can include offensive remarks about a person’s sex. For example, it is illegal to harass a woman by making offensive comments about women in general. Both victim and the harasser can be either a woman or a man, and the victim and harasser can be the same sex. (

Acquaintance Rape

Acquaintance rape is rape committed by a person who the survivor personally knows. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (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.”4 This is also often referred to as “date rape,” especially when the two parties have agreed to a romantic relationship, but the survivor has not consented to sexual intercourse.(

Acquaintance rape is often misunderstood; people think that because the two parties know each other, it isn’t “real rape.” This is incorrect—rape is a felony crime, regardless of the relationship between the people involved. A clear, consenting “yes” needs to be communicated in order for sexual contact to be legal. (

Non-stranger sexual assault (formerly referred to as acquaintance rape), including rape, occurs when someone you know, or are familiar with, forces, coerces and/or manipulates you to participate in unwanted sexual activity.

A perpetrator of non-stranger sexual assault can be a friend, a neighbor, someone you met at a party, someone your friend knows, a dating partner, your employer or someone you’ve known for a long time.

Alcohol and Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault

Drug-facilitated sexual assault occurs when alcohol or drugs are used to compromise an individual’s ability to consent to sexual activity. These substances make it easier for a perpetrator to commit sexual assault because they inhibit a person’s ability to resist and can prevent them from remembering the assault. Drugs and alcohol can cause diminished capacity, a legal term that varies in definition from state to state.

You may have heard the term “date rape drugs” to refer to substances that can aid a perpetrator in committing sexual assault. Drug-facilitated sexual assault can happen to anyone, by anyone, whether the perpetrator is a date, a stranger, or someone you’ve known for a while. Drug-facilitated sexual assault occurs in two ways: when the perpetrator takes advantage of a victim’s voluntary use of drugs or alcohol or when the perpetrator intentionally forces a victim to consume drugs without their knowledge.

What is sexual assault?

“Sexual assault” is any unwanted sexual, physical, verbal, or visual act that forces someone to have sexual contact against his or her will. It’s motivated by the need to control, humiliate, and harm. Some examples are: harassment, rape, incest, oral sex, molestation, forcing someone to pose for pictures, and unwanted touching.

What is rape?

It’s a specific type of sexual assault. It involves any forced, manipulated, or coerced penetration of the vagina, anus, or mouth by a penis or other object. It is not a crime of passion. It’s a crime of violence—often used to scare or degrade the victim. It’s a common misconception that sexual assault and rape are perpetrated by strangers. Most survivors know their perpetrators. According to Bureau of Justice statistics, 60 percent of survivors are assaulted by an intimate partner, relative, friend, or acquaintance. This rate is even higher for women who were assaulted or raped in college.

 When does rape or sexual assault typically occur?

Rape and sexual assault can happen at any time. However: Most victims of rape and sexual assault are females younger than 24. Forty-two percent have been raped before age 18. As for guys, researchers estimate that 1 in 6 men experience unwanted or abusive sexual contact before age 18.

What is Consent?

Sexual activity requires consent, which is defined as clear, unambiguous, and voluntary agreement between the participants to engage in specific sexual or nonsexual activity. Consent is an enthusiastic, clearly communicated and ongoing yes. Consent is a clear “yes” to your partner, not the absence of a “no.” It’s not okay to assume that once someone consents to an activity, they are consenting to it anytime in the future as well. “Whether it’s the first time or the hundredth time, a hookup, a committed relationship or even marriage, nobody is ever obligated to give consent just because they have done so in the past. A person can decide to stop an activity at any time, even if they agreed to it earlier.”

Nonconsensual sex is rape. A person who is substantially impaired cannot give consent.

Consent is NOT:

  • Pressuring or guilting someone into doing things they may not want to do
  • Making someone feel like they “owe” their sexual partner something — because they’ve engaged in an activity in the past, because they’re dating, because they expressed a desired to do that activity earlier in the night, or because one person gave the other a gift, etc.
  • Reacting negatively (with sadness, anger or resentment) if someone says “no” to something, or doesn’t immediately consent.
  • Ignoring a sexual partner’s wishes, and not paying attention to nonverbal cues that could show you’re not consenting (ex: pulling/pushing away).

For more info about consent, check out this great Consent Tea Video!

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