Understanding Sexual Violence

What is Sexual Violence?

Sexual violence is any sexual act that is unwanted and perpetrated against someone’s will without consent.

There are many types of sexual violence, including physical acts, such as unwanted touching and rape. Sexual violence also includes acts that do not have physical contact between the victim and the perpetrator–for example, sexual harassment, threatened sexual violence, exhibitionism, and peeping.

Legal definitions of sexual assault include:

Sex without consent is rape. It is illegal and it is wrong, and while there are many ways in which our culture places blame on the victim, it is always the perpetrators fault.

If you are forced, pressured, coerced, or manipulated into sexual activity that you do not want — even if you had sex with the person before, know the person, trusted the person, didn’t fight back or say no, were using drugs or alcohol, haven’t told anyone, or it happened a long time ago — support is available.

Examples of Sexual Violence:

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Why is Domestic Violence a Public Health Problem?

Sexual violence can have harmful and lasting consequences for victims, families, and communities, include physical (pregnancy and gynecological complications, chronic pain, gastrointestinal disorders, migraines, disability); psychological (trauma, fear, anxiety, guilt, relationship challenges, depression, and suicide); social; and unhealthy behaviors (high-risk sexual behavior, substance abuse, unhealthy diet-related behavior).

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Vermont and National Data

Sexual violence is serious problem in the United States and in Vermont:

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