Sexual Assault

Sexual assault refers to any type of unwanted sexual contact or behavior. Sexual violence can take many different forms, but one thing remains the same: it’s never the victim’s fault. An abuser might use force, threats, manipulation, or coercion to commit sexual violence. Sexual violence is often perpetrated by someone the individual knows; this includes intimate partner relationships. Intimate partner sexual violence can occur in all types of intimate relationships regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation. Sexual violence in a relationship is rarely an isolated incident. It often occurs alongside other forms of abusive behavior, including physical and emotional abuse. Intimate partner sexual violence often starts with controlling behavior that can escalate to further emotional, physical, and sexual abuse. 

Warning Signs  

  • Indicators of depression, such as persistent sadness, lack of energy, changes in sleep and/or appetite, withdrawal from normal activities 
  • Self-harming thoughts or behaviors 
  • Low self-esteem 
  • Anxiety  
  • Avoiding specific situations or places 
  • Declining performance  
  • STIs 
  • Drug or alcohol use 

What reporting option does a survivor have?  

  1. Report to police  
  2. Report to medical providers without a police investigation – medical reporting 
  3. Report to medical providers but remain anonymous to the police – anonymous reporting  

How to support?  

  • Believe them and let them know you believe them 
  • Validate their feelings and offer emotional support 
  • Avoid judgment  
  • Don’t make decisions for them  
  • Educate yourself to better support them 
  • Check-in periodically  
  • Help them understand their options  
  • Connect them to resources that can provide adequate services  
  • Do not share their experience with anyone else 


  • Intimate partner sexual assault and rape are used to intimidate, control and demean victims/survivors of domestic violence.  
  • Those sexually abused by intimate partners report more risk factors for intimate partner homicides than those who are not sexually abused.  
  • 1 in 2 women and 1 in 5 men experienced sexual violence at some point in their lives.  
  • Around 25% of women are sexually assaulted by intimate partners during their relationships.  
  • Between 40 and 45 percent of women in abusive relationships will be sexually assaulted during the relationship.  
  • Only 36 percent of all rape victims ever report the crime to the police. The percentage of those married who report a spousal rape to police is even lower.  

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