What is Sexual Assault: Terms & Definitions


Sexual Assault includes the attempt or act of rape (sexual intercourse without consent, both by a stranger or someone you know), forced sodomy, or forced penetration by a foreign object, including a finger. Also includes acts of touching an unwilling person's intimate parts such as genitalia, breast, buttocks, or clothing covering those parts, or forcing an unwilling person to touch another person's intimate parts.

Rape is the unlawful act of sexual intercourse with another person against that person's will by force, fear, or trickery.

What Does Consent Mean?

Consent can only be given by a person who does not feel pressured or coerced, and who is not under the influence of drugs and / or alcohol.

If a person has consumed alcohol or drugs, they cannot legally give consent and engaging in sexual acts with this person at this time is illegal and they can press charges.

If you or your partner feels pressured or intimidated to have sex, then you have not established consent and any sexual activity is considered Sexual Assault and is illegal. Not hearing or saying "No" does not mean "Yes!" Take the extra step to make you have a Yes and the person is not drunk or high. Know how far you want to go with someone before getting into the situation.

Other Assault Crimes

  • Rape as a hate crime occurs when members of oppressed groups are targeted for sexual assaults that are Hate Crime motivated such as racism, antisemitism, homophobia, sexism, classism, ageism, etc.
  • Marital Rape is unlawful sexual intercourse with another spouse or ex-spouse against her or his will.
  • Incest involves sexual intercourse between members of a family, or those among whom marriage would be illegal because of blood relations.
  • Gang Rape involves sexual intercourse perpetrated by more than one person against an unwilling individual.
  • Sexual Harassment can be words, gestures, jokes, and pictures used to suggest things of a sexual nature that are Harassment are unwanted and makes the other person uncomfortable.

It Is Still Rape, Even If...

  • Your attacker is an acquaintance, date, friend, or spouse.
  • You engaged in sexual touching and kissing but then were forced to have intercourse against your will
  • You have had sex with that person before, but this time said no
  • You froze and did not or could not say no or were unable to fight back physically
  • There were no weapons involved
  • You were wearing clothes that others may consider to be seductive
  • You were drinking or using drugs

Unlawful Sex

  • Someone who is 18 or older having sex with someone who is 17 or younger
  • A greater than two year age difference between two people less than 18 years old who are sexually involved
  • When one person is under the influence and another person has sex with them, even if they have said yes previously.

Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault & Sexual Abuse

If you or someone you know needs help resources, find local resource contact information (PDF).