Haven of Tioga County
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What is Rape? What is Sexual Assault?
The exact definition of "rape," "sexual assault," "sexual abuse," and similar terms differs by state. The wording can get confusing, since states often use different words to mean the same thing, or use the same words to describe different things. for a precise legal definition, you need to check the law in your state. But here are some general guidelines based on the definitions used by the U.S. Justice Department. Please note these definitions are somewhat graphic, which is inevitable when describing crimes this violent.
Rape is forced sexual intercourse, including vaginal, anal, or oral penetration. Penetration may be by a body part or an object.
Rape victims may be forced through threats or physical means. In about 8 out of 10 rapes, no weapon is used other than physical force. Anyone may be a victim of rape: women, men or children, heterosexual or homosexual.
Sexual assault is unwanted sexual contact that stops short of rape or attempted rape. This includes sexual touching and fondling. (But, be aware: Some states use this term interchangeably with rape.)
Incest is sexual contact between persons who are so closely related that their marriage is illegal (e.g., parents and children, uncles/aunts and nieces/nephews, etc.) This usually takes the form of an older family member sexually abusing a child or adolescent.
How can you figure out if what happened was rape?
There are three main considerations in judging whether or not a sexual act is consensual (which means that both people are old enough to consent, have the capacity to consent, and agreed to the sexual contact) or is a crime.
Each state sets an "age of consent," which is the minimum age someone must be to have sex. People below this
age are considered children and cannot legally agree to have sex. In other words, even if the child or teenager says
yes, that says no.
In most states, the age of consent is 16 to 18. In some states, the age of consent varies according to the age
difference between the participants. Generally, "I thought she was 18" is not considered a legal excuse -- it's up to
you to make sure your partner is old enough to legally take part.
States also define who has the mental and legal capacity to consent. Those with diminished capacity -- for example,
some people with disabilities, some elderly people, and people who have been drugged or are unconscious -- may
not have the legal ability to agree to having sex.
Did someone use physical force to make you have sexual contact with him/her? Has someone threatened you to
make you have intercourse with them? If so, it is rape.
It doesn't matter if you think your partner means yes, or if you're already started having sex. "No" also means "Stop."
If you proceed despite your partner's expressed instructions to stop, you have not only violated basic codes or
morality and decency, you may have also committed a crime under the laws of your state (check your state's law for
Check your state's laws
These categories and definitions vary widely by state, so it is important to check the laws in your state. You can call your local crisis center or that National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE to find out more about the laws in your state.
To determine the statute in your state, to contact your local prosecutor, district attorney or state attorney general's office. You can also read more about the laws in your state.
Unless otherwise noted, all statistics or RAINN's website are based on the above definitions.
To see more information, go to RAINN site:
IF YOU HAVE EXPERIENCED SEXUAL VIOLENCE
There are times when the emotions and pain associated with a rape or sexual assault can be overwhelming. These feelings can come immediately after the assault or many years later. The following are things that you can do to help take care of yourself as you recover from the assault that you experienced.
There are also some things that victims of rape or sexual assault do to cope that are better to avoid
More information on Sexual Assault and some inspirational words
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