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Sexual Assault

Sexual Assault has many features in common with Domestic Violence. Both are about power and control, humiliation and dominance. The need to address prevention of domestic violence and sexual assault is not just a women’s issue, and it is not just an individual or family problem. Violence against women is a human issue, and a social problem. It’s up to the community to take a stand against abuse, hold abusers accountable for their behavior and protect victims.

Sexual violence is any form of unwanted, unwelcome or coercive sexual contact. Like the crime of domestic violence, the goal of sexual assault is to overpower, intimidate and degrade the victim. The crimes of sexual violence exist in a continuum from sexual harassment to rape and can include anything from stalking to inappropriate touching to penetration. It can also include sexual stalking on the internet.

Sexual violence is any act (verbal and/or physical) which breaks a person’s trust or threatens her/his safety and is sexual in nature. Victims and survivors of sexual assaults are forced, coerced and/or manipulated to participate in the unwanted sexual activity.

Criminal sexual contact, sexual harassment, sexual stalking on the Internet, and lewdness are also forms of sexual violence. Sexual assault is the legal term for rape and includes vaginal, oral or anal sex without the victim’s consent or with a victim who is unable to consent.

Facts:

  • Approximately 66% of rape victims know their assailant.
  • Approximately 48% of victims are raped by a friend or acquaintance; 30% by a stranger; 16% by an intimate; 2% by another relative; and in 4% of cases the relationship is unknown.1

Remember:

  • Sexual assault is a widespread and under-reported crime.
  • Sexual assault is always against your will.
  • No means no; silence means no; maybe means no.
  • If someone is too drunk to say no, too disabled to say no, or too young to say no, that also means no.
  • If someone is unable to safely say no, that does not mean yes.
  • The only thing that means yes is yes — providing that the person saying yes is at the age of consent.
  • Teens especially need to know that they have the right to change their mind about having sex – even after it has begun.

For more information on laws about sexual assault, please see the NJ Law section.

If you or someone you know has been raped see What to Do or How you can help

What to do…

…if you are sexually assaulted

  • Go to a safe place
  • If possible, do not bathe, shower, douche, go to the bathroom, change clothing, eat, drink or smoke
  • Get immediate medical attention for possible injuries, sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy
  • Consider calling the police
  • Call Womanspace at 609-394-9000 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for support and information

Common feelings After Sexual Assault

  • Physical
    • Physical pain and body aches
    • Insomnia, difficulty staying asleep or nightmares
    • Loss of appetite, stomach pains or nausea
  • Emotional
    • Fear and anxiety
    • Helplessness
    • Guilt and shame
    • Embarrassment

These are all normal reactions and you have the right to feel them. You also have the right to professional help to address these feelings.

Notes

  1. National Crime Victims Statistics, 2000.

Mercer County

Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault 24 Hour Hotline

(609) 394-9000

New Jersey Statewide

Domestic Violence 24 Hour Hotline

(800) 572-SAFE (7233)

For callers with hearing or speech impairments:

(TTY) 888-252-SAFE (7233)

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