Sunday, August 10, 2008

Sexual Violence

A specific application of the topic on abuse is to review sexual violence. The amount of sexual violence in our society remains at epidemic proportions. Research indicates that estimates of sexual violence are notoriously underreported. Some scholars have suggested that 3% of college women experience sexual assault in a given year (Fisher, Cullen & Turner, 2000). Another article suggests that 25% of girls and 16% of boys are abused before age 16 (Dube, 2005). The concept of Male on Male Rape is rarely recognized as an issue and is often untreated (Scarce, 2001). Sexual violence, usually referred to as sexual assault and abuse, is any type of sexual activity that you do not agree to, including:

  • inappropriate touching whether it is intentional (such as grabbing your breast/butt/penis) or by accident even when it isn’t (called frotterism such as brushing up against you in a store or line)
  • vaginal, anal, or oral penetration, or failed attempts at penetration, with or without objects
  • child molestation
  • being spied upon (someone watching you, aka voyeurism)
  • being exposed to (someone exposing themselves to you, aka flashing)

Sexual violence can occur to anyone at any time. The most common type of violence is perpetrated by a relative or known individual in the person’s life. Other times it is perpetrated by a partner, wife/husband, or dating partner. This is sometimes referred to as domestic rape, or date rape. While glamorized in the movies, stranger rape is less common; it still does occur and should not be dismissed. Also, the rise of date rape drugs exacerbates the problem and provides a barrier to seeking help.

If you are a victim of sexual violence, it is recommended that you seek immediate help. Some recommendations include:

  • Get away from the attacker to a safe place as fast as you can. Then call 911 or the police

· Call a friend or family member you trust. You also can call a crisis center or a hotline to talk with a counselor. One hotline is the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673). Feelings of shame, guilt, fear, and shock are normal. It is important to get counseling from a trusted professional.

· Do not wash, comb, or clean any part of your body. Do not change clothes if possible, so the hospital staff can collect evidence. Do not touch or change anything at the scene of the assault.

· Go to your nearest hospital emergency room as soon as possible. You need to be examined and treated for any injuries you may have. Ask to be screened for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and for emergency contraception to help prevent pregnancy. The doctor will collect evidence using a rape kit to find fibers, hairs, saliva, semen, or clothing that the attacker may have left behind.

· You or the hospital staff can call the police from the emergency room to file a report

· Ask the hospital staff about possible support groups you can attend right away.

(taken from:

Sometimes immediate help is not received for any number of reasons. It is never too late to seek help. This can include talking to a therapist, friend, or minister. The key to remember is that you aren’t alone, and that recovery beyond this experience is possible.

As you examine your sexual history, have you experienced sexual violence? What changes in your life occurred? What help have you received? What help do you need?


Dube SR et al. Long-term consequences of childhood sexual abuse by gender of victim. American Journal of Preventive Medicine 28(5), 2005.

Fisher, B., Cullen, F. & Turner M. (2000) The Sexual Victimization of College Women.
National Institute of Justice.

Scarce, M (2001) Male on Male Rape: The hidden toll of stigma and shame. Basic Books

Violence against women (2008) located at:

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