Sexual Assault2017-01-17T11:40:39-05:00

What is Sexual Assault?

Sexual assault is a term used for crimes such as rape, incest, unwanted touching or fondling, sexual harassment or threats. It includes any act or attempted act directed against a person’s sexuality using force, coercion or manipulation. Sexual assault and rape are often miscategorized as purely sexual acts. In fact, this crime is perpetrated as a violent means of power and control. This attack is a violation of a person’s body, their rights and their very being. Nothing in their dress, speech, behavior or previous sexual experience makes a person responsible for sexual violence against them. Anyone can be a victim of sexual assault regardless of age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation or socio-economic class.

Although sexual assault can occur anywhere or anytime a person is vulnerable, it is actually most likely to happen in a familiar setting. Acquaintance rape and date rape are the most common types of sexual assault. 84% of rapes are committed by someone the victim knows. In fact, 57% of all sexual assaults occur during a date. Unfortunately, victims are less likely to report the crime if it is committed by someone they know, yet this type of attack is likely to happen again and again.

What Does “Consent” Mean?

Consent is a clear “yes” to sexual behavior. Sexual assault occurs in the absence of consent. Not saying “no” does not mean you have given consent.

It is important to know that consent CANNOT be given if you are:

  • Under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Unconscious or incapacitated
  • Threatened, forced, coerced or manipulated into an act
  • Not mentally capable due to illness or disability
  • Under the age of 16 in the state of Georgia

Remember, consent is an ongoing process, not a one-time question. If you consent to sexual activity, you can change your mind and choose to stop, even after sexual activity has begun. Past consent does not mean future consent.

A clearly-voiced, freely-given “YES” is the only thing that passes for consent.

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Alcohol and Date Rape Drugs

The most common tool of sexual predators is alcohol, which they use to make a victim more mentally and physically vulnerable. However, the use of “date rape drugs” is also common. These include any sedative substance that can incapacitate a victim such as Rohypnol (Roofies) and GHB, which are colorless, odorless, tasteless and can be added to a drink (even water) without the victim ever knowing. Many recreational drugs including Ketamine, PCP and MDMA also fall into this category because of their similarly incapacitating effects. If they are combined with alcohol or other drugs, a victim can be especially susceptible to confusion, blackouts, nausea, memory loss, upper respiratory distress, loss of motor control and even death.

Effects of Sexual Assault

Sexual assault can result in physical injuries like bruising, bleeding and STIs, as well as psychological problems. Many survivors go on to experience depression, PTSD, eating disorders, sleep disorders, unwanted pregnancy, substance abuse, self-harm, suicidal thoughts, dissociation, isolation and many other issues. Approximately 70% of sexual assault victims experience moderate to severe distress, a larger percentage than any other violent crime.

Myths and Facts

Myth: Sexual Assault is usually perpetrated by a stranger in a dark alley.
Fact: Most sexual assaults are committed by someone familiar, an acquaintance or friend, often at or near the victim’s home or the home of a friend or relative. 3

Myth: It is rare and does not happen often.
Fact: Every two minutes, someone is sexually assaulted in the United States.3

Myth: Rape and sexual assault are about lust and passion.
Fact: Sexual assault is not about sex. It is about power and control.

Myth: Men cannot be raped or sexually assaulted.
Fact: Men can be and are sexually assaulted. Any man can be sexually assaulted regardless of size, strength, appearance, age, race, occupation or sexual identity. 

Myth: Women could avoid sexual assault by dressing modestly and drinking moderately.
Fact: Sexual assault cannot be excused because of how someone dresses or acts, or their prior sexual experience.  Victims are sexually assaulted regardless of their style of dress or use of drugs/alcohol.

Myth: It is easy to report sexual assault and many women falsely report it as an act of revenge.
Fact: Sexual assaults are under-reported because survivors often feel fear, shame, guilt and confusion. False reports of rape make up less than 2% of all reported instances, the same average as all other major crimes. 4

Myth: Roofies are the most common date rape drug.
Fact: The most common date rape drug is alcohol. Perpetrators often use alcohol as a tool to make victims more vulnerable. 5

What to Do If You or Someone You Know Has Been Sexually Assaulted

  • If you are in immediate danger or need medical attention, call 911
  • Get to a safe place
  • Call a loved one and/or the liveSAFE Resources Crisis Line at 770.427.3390 for help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
  • If you suspect you may have been sexually assaulted but do not remember the incident, a medical exam may be able to reveal DNA and includes tests for date rape drugs. It is important to get the exam as soon as possible as drugs leave the body quickly.
  • DNA evidence needs to be collected within 120 hours in order to be analyzed by a crime lab.
  • Do not shower, wash or brush your teeth. If you need to change, put your clothing in a paper bag. This will help preserve evidence of the assault. Try not to use the restroom if possible.
  • If you are trying to help a friend, listen to what they need and believe them.

liveSAFE Resources Can Help

If you or someone you know was sexually assaulted, please call our

24-Hour Crisis Line: 770.427.3390

Main Office: 770.427.2902

Hearing impaired TTY: 425.258.7081

Temporary Protective Order (TPO) Office: 770.528.8024

Asistencia en Espanol: 770.423.3569

Advocates are standing by to take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to provide information and refer you to services or programs. This is a free, confidential resource available to victims of sexual assault or to friends and family who are concerned for a loved one.

liveSAFE Resources also offers the following services:

  • 24-hour medical forensic exams by Nurse Examiners in a private facility for victims ages 13 and older (for children under 13, please visit SafePath)
  • Emergency shelter
  • Free, confidential counseling and support groups for victims and family members
  • One-on-one case management
  • Legal advocacy to help navigate the court system and acquire Temporary Protective Orders (TPOs)

Visit our Services page to learn more about the sexual assault services we offer, or visit our Resources page to find out more.