Unwanted Contact: 5 Types of Sexual Assault


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Sexual assault is loosely defined as any unwanted sexual contact, but it comprises of a wide range of situations. When most people think of sexual assault, they think of the most drastic scenarios like rape or incest; however, sexual assault takes many forms and victims have a right to lawful recourse in a number of situations that are not as "serious," but that can be just as traumatizing.

What Defines Sexual Assault?

Sexual assault is not necessarily of a penetrative nature. It includes molestation as well, and is considered rape when it consists of vaginal, oral, or anal penetration. It is also an umbrella term for actions inflicted on a person who cannot give consent due to physical or mental incapacity or age. A person can experience assault from anyone, including friends, spouses, or family members. However, regardless of the relationship, sexual contact that is unwanted is unacceptable and, in certain cases, punishable by law.

5 Main Categories of Sexual Assault

The below list is by no means exhaustive; however, it does highlight some of the main types of sexual assault experienced by victims.

1. Rape (Acquaintance, Date, Gang, Marital, Statutory, Serial)

Rape is defined by the FBI as penetration of the vagina or anus with any object without the consent of the victim. It can also include oral penetration. Rape takes many forms:

  • Acquaintance: This is when the rape is committed by a person the victim knows. Many misunderstand this type of rape, thinking that if the two parties know each other, it isn't "real rape." However, rape is a felony regardless of the relationship of the involved parties. If the sexual contact is unwanted, it is illegal and punishable in a court of law.
  • Date: Date rape is similar to acquaintance rape in the sense that the victim knows the perpetrator. Despite the name, the parties do not have to necessarily be "dating" in order for date rape to occur. The term "date rape drug" is often used to refer to a drug that helped the perpetrator commit this type of sexual assault. These drugs usually have no taste, odor, or color, and can be easily slipped into food or drink.
  • Gang: Gang rape ("sex train" or "gang bang") is when more than one perpetrator rapes a single victim. It is especially traumatic for the victim because they are being assaulted in front of an audience; the experience is therefore not only horrific, but degrading and humiliating.
  • Marital: This refers to unwanted sexual contact between spouses. Again, the relationship of the parties does not matter; any sex act that is without consent can be classified as assault and is illegal. When the couple is not married, it is referred to as "partner rape."
  • Statutory: This is the term used to refer to sex with a minor. Even if both parties consent, the underage person is considered too young to give consent to have intercourse until they are (generally) 18 years old. Consent laws vary from state to state. In most cases when both parties are minors, it is considered statutory rape.
  • Serial: In this particularly horrific form of assault, one perpetrator will assault multiple victims. The victims do not have to necessarily know one another in order for the crime to be classified as serial rape.

2. Incest

Incest is sexual relations between relatives and it is more common than many would like to think. For example, about one-third of child sex abuse occurs between family members. Incest can additionally involve penetration and be classified as rape. Laws around the world vary concerning what constitutes child abuse, rape, incest, or sexual abuse, but one thing is certain: incest has a long-lasting effect on victims, both psychologically and emotionally.

3. Exhibitionism

This is when a person gains sexual arousal from exposing their genitals to strangers without their consent. In most cases, the perpetrators are men and the victims are women. A common form of exhibitionism is called "flashing." In these cases, the flasher will place himself in a public area and conceal his genitals with a coat, book, or other objects. When he spies a suitable victim, he will enter her line of vision and expose himself to her. The flasher revels in the reaction this draws from the woman, perhaps fantasizing about a sexual relationship. He may also masturbate at the scene or later on at the memory of the event.

4. Pornography

Pornography can involve using women and children for commercial gain. It is particularly damaging to a culture's sexual mindset and is different from erotica. Soft pornography involves people wearing little to no clothing, whereas hardcore pornography involves violent depictions of a sexual relationship between men and women. Some types of pornography go even further. For instance, "snuff" pornography (LINK) consists of very graphic and sadistic depictions of an actor or actress being sexually coerced and then murdered in the climax of the film. Some believe that pornography is a catalyst to sexual violence since these films showcase women being objectified and punished, thus perpetuating a cultural standard where it is considered okay to wield violent sexual power over a partner. In most cases of pornography, there is no consenting "yes" given between the parties.

5. Voyeurism

This type of sexual assault is when the perpetrator, often referred to as a "peeping tom," gains sexual pleasure from watching individuals who are naked. They are usually male and the activities they participate in include spying on people taking showers, looking through windows, or watching others from hidden cameras.

Need Help With a Sexual Assault Claim?

If you or a loved one experienced sexual assault, the personal injury attorneys at Clore Law can help. Call 843-722-8070 today for more information.

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