Sexual assault

Sexual assault

Sexual assault is any assault of a sexual nature on another person. Though sexual assaults most frequently are by a man on a woman, it may be of a man on a man, woman on a man or woman on a woman. While sexual assaults are associated with the crime of rape, it may cover assaults which would not be considered to be rapes.

What constitutes a sexual assault is determined by the laws of the jurisdiction where the assault takes place, which vary considerably, and are influenced by local social and cultural attitudes.

It has been said that sexual assault includes rape, forced vaginal, anal or oral penetration, forced sexual intercourse, inappropriate touching, forced kissing, child molestation and the torture of the victim in a sexual manner.


Perpetrators of rapes may include, but are not limited to, strangers, acquaintances, neighbors, superiors, legal entities (as in the case of torture), or family members. Generally, victims are much more likely to be assaulted by an acquaintance (such as a friend or co-worker), a dating partner, an ex-boyfriend or an intimate partner than by a complete stranger.

Sexual intercourse is sometimes accomplished by violence or force sufficient to cause physical injury. More often, it is accomplished by psychological coercion alone, with no overt physical injuries to the victim. However, even when no lasting physical injury is sustained, the psychological damage done by this form of intimate violation may be substantial.

Studies have shown that the psychological damage is often particularly severe when sexual assault is committed by parents against children due to the incestuous nature of the assault. Incest between a child or adolescent and a related adult has been identified as the most widespread form of child sexual abuse with a huge capacity for damage to a child.

See also


Further reading

  • Wishart, G.D. (2003). "The Sexual Abuse of People with Learning Difficulties: Do We Need A Social Model Approach To Vulnerability?", Journal of Adult Protection, Volume 5 (Issue 3).

External links

National organizations

Support and healing organizations

Research and information

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