Sexual Abuse

What is Sexual Abuse?

Sexual abuse refers to any action that pressures or coerces someone to do something sexually they don’t want to do.

It can also refer to behavior that impacts a person’s ability to control their sexual activity or the circumstances in which

sexual activity occurs, including oral sex, rape or restricting access to birth control and condoms. Some examples of sexual assault and abuse are:

• Unwanted kissing or touching.

• Unwanted rough or violent sexual activity.

• Rape or attempted rape.

• Refusing to use condoms or restricting someone’s access to birth control.

• Keeping someone from protecting themselves from sexually transmitted     infections (STIs).

• Sexual contact with someone who is very drunk, drugged, unconscious or otherwise unable to give a clear and informed “yes” or “no.”

• Threatening or pressuring someone into unwanted sexual activity.

Know this:

Everyone has the right to decide what they do or don’t want to do sexually. Not all sexual assaults are violent “attacks.”

• Most victims of sexual assault know the assailant. 

• Both men and women can be victims of sexual abuse.

• Both men and women can be perpetrators of sexual abuse.

• Sexual abuse can occur in same-sex and opposite-sex relationships.

• Sexual abuse can occur between two people who have been sexual with        each other before, including people who are married or dating.

Types of Sexual Assault

  • Sexual assault – a term including all sexual offenses. Any action or statement with a sexual nature and done without consent from both sides.
  • Rape – insertion of a bodily organ or an object into the sex organ of a woman without her consent.
  • Sodomy – insertion of a bodily organ or an object into a person's anus or mouth without their consent.
  • Attempted rape – attempted insertion of a bodily organ or an object into the sex organ of a woman without her consent.
  • Gang rape – rape carried out by more than one attacker.
  • Serial rape – repeated incidents of rape carried out by the same attacker over an extended period of time.
  • Incest – Sexual abuse or assault at the hands of a family member.

Types of Sexual Harassment

  • Extortion when the act the person required to perform is of a sexual nature.
  • An indecent act, i.e. an act performed to cause humiliation, stimulation or sexual satisfaction.
  • Repeated propositions that are of a sexual nature addressed to a person who has previously demonstrated to the harasser that they are not interested in said propositions.
  • Repeated remarks relating to the person's sexuality when that person has already shown the harasser that they are not interested in said remarks.
  • Degrading or humiliating remarks relating to a person's sex or sexuality, including their sexual orientation.
  • Publishing a picture, video or recording of someone focusing on their sexuality for the purpose of humiliating or degrading the person without their consent.
  • Propositions or remarks of a sexual nature when the harasser is aware that their target is not interested due to circumstances of exploiting a working relationship, dependency and other services.

Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

In every workplace that employs more than ten workers, the employer by law is responsible for the prevention of sexual harassment. If there were incidents of sexual harassment in the work place or maltreatment in connection to sexual harassment, you may turn to your supervisor and submit a report, which will be handled through disciplinary action according to your work place's policies regarding sexual harassment.

You may, instead or in addition, file a report with the police or take civil action in labor court.

What To Do?

If you have been sexually assaulted, first get to a safe place away from the attacker. You may be scared, angry and confused, but remember the abuse was in no way your fault. You have options: 

You can: 

• Contact Someone You Trust. Many people feel fear, guilt, anger, shame and/or shock after they have been sexually assaulted. Having someone there to support you as you deal with these emotions can make a big difference. It may be helpful to speak with a counselor, someone at a sexual assault hotline or a support group.  

• Report What Happened to the Police. If you do decide to report what happened, you will have a stronger case if you do not alter or destroy any evidence. This means don’t shower, wash your hair or body, comb your hair or change your clothes, even if that is hard to do. If you are nervous about going to the police station, it may help to bring a friend with you. Contact an ARC sexual assault advocate at 906.632.1808 to assist you and answer your questions.

• Go to an Emergency Room or Health Clinic. It is very important for you to seek health care as soon as you can after being assaulted. You will be treated for any injuries and offered medications to help prevent pregnancy and STIs. Remember there is always help. 

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