Sexual Assault FAQs
Victims of sexual assault can experience lasting physical and emotional scars. As a victim, you may often feel isolated, powerless, and overwhelmed by the trauma you have endured. It’s important to recognize that you are not alone and that there is help for you if you are suffering. As you navigate the path to healing, it’s understandable to have sexual assault questions and concerns along the way. It’s important that you get the right information and that you know there are resources and support organizations available to help you through this challenging time. We are so sorry this has happened to you and want to answer some of the most pressing FAQs about sexual assault and what to do next.
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What Is Sexual Assault?
Sexual assault refers to any non-consensual sexual act or behavior that is directed at you. Often, a victim is an individual who has less power than their perpetrator or might be in a vulnerable state.
Examples of sexual assault can include but are not limited to coerced or forced participation in a sexual act, rape, unwanted sexual contact, groping, kissing, touching, and any other unwanted physical contact that a victim does not consent to.
Sexual assault can also be non-physical, coming in the form of verbal assault or harassment that is sexual in nature.
Please know if this has unfortunately happened to you, you are not alone, and it is not your fault. Anyone can be the victim of a sexual assault regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, or background. According to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN), one out of six American women has been the victim of a sexual assault, while one in 33 men has experienced some form of sexual assault in their lifetime. Each year, an estimated 500,000 people throughout the US experience sexual assault. Unfortunately, a majority of these victims are women and children. If you or someone you know has experienced sexual assault, reaching out to a sexual assault lawyer is a crucial measure towards pursuing legal action against the perpetrator.
What Is The Difference Between Sexual Violence, Sexual Assault, And Sexual Harassment?
Sexual misconduct against victims can take on many forms. Common types of sexual misconduct include sexual assault, harassment, and violence that is sexual in nature or driven by a predator’s sexual impulses.
These types of sexual misconduct can happen everywhere to anyone, and certain types of misconduct can leave you feeling more vulnerable than others. Sexual harassment might make you feel uncomfortable in your place of work or school, while sexual assault and sexual violence involve physical sexual encounters that you did not consent to. These incidents are meant to physically and emotionally hurt you.
Sexual harassment typically encompasses sexually charged name-calling, unwanted comments and noises, and unwanted non-physical attention. It is possible for sexual harassment to turn into sexual violence in the form of sexual assault if it is not addressed.
What Constitutes Consent?
If an individual gives you attention that is sexually charged in nature, whether it be verbal flattery or full-on touching and kissing, giving consent means that you reciprocate the feelings and, to a degree, welcome the attention.
When you tell someone “no,” you are not giving consent, and you have every right to protect your body from the unwanted attention of someone else.
If you are unable to give consent because you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you still have the right to protect your body, and the concept of consent still applies. Anyone who abuses you sexually when you are under the influence can be held criminally liable for the abuse. This is especially the case if your abuser deliberately intoxicates you for the purpose of initiating a sexual assault.
Was It Sexual Assault If It Was My Partner Or Someone I Used To Date?
An overwhelming majority of sexual assaults happen to victims by individuals they know, with many sexual assaults occurring as the result of domestic violence. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 51.1% of female victims have been raped by a partner or someone with whom they have had a romantic relationship.
If you are romantically involved with someone, you still have the right to choose how you share your body. If an intimate partner engages in sexual assault, harassment, or violence against you and you have not given your consent, they can still be held liable for an assault that has taken place.
What If I Was Under The Influence Of Drugs Or Alcohol When I Was Sexually Assaulted?
If you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol during a sexual assault, you are not to blame. Alcohol is one of the most common substances used to coerce victims into a sexual assault. But what happens if both people are drunk when an assault occurs?
Depending on the circumstances of the case, outcomes might be different. But it’s important to remember that if you are unable to render consent and you have been abused, you are not at fault, and you are not to blame. A criminal investigation can be launched into your case to determine the facts of your assault and the intentions of your abuser.
Just because an individual was drunk or intoxicated when they initiated an assault does not mean they are not to be held responsible for the assault.
If The Victim Doesn’t Fight Back, Is It Considered Rape?
Rape is a traumatizing experience, and each individual victim will react differently to an assault. While some victims might fight back, others might not do so due to fear, shock, or the inability to speak up.
Regardless of a victim’s reaction, a rape is still sexual assault and should be taken seriously. Rape victims are often individuals who are assaulted during a time of vulnerability, making it hard for them to fight back as the rape occurs.
Can Males Be Victims Of Sexual Assault?
Sexual assault does not discriminate against gender, age, sexual orientation, or background. While not as common, men can certainly be victims of sexual assault. Unfortunately, because of the stigma associated with male sexual assault, many men never come forward to report their abuse.
Recent data highlights that 43% of men nationwide have experienced some form of sexual harassment or sexual assault in their lifetime. One in four male victims reports experiencing complete or attempted rape by the age of 17.
What Should I Do If I Was Sexually Assaulted?
If you were sexually assaulted, please understand you do not have to go through this alone. You have resources and options available to you. It’s vital that you report your assault to local law enforcement as quickly as possible. This allows your abuser to be held criminally liable for their actions. Speaking with an experienced sexual assault attorney is another way to seek the legal justice you deserve. An experienced attorney can help you recover the restitution associated with your abuse.
How Is Evidence For A Sexual Assault Case Collected?
There are several different ways evidence is collected after a sexual assault. If the assault was recent, within the past 72 hours, you may be directed to seek medical attention so that a medical exam known as a rape kit can be conducted. A rape kit can help collect any DNA evidence belonging to your perpetrator.
Witness statements from individuals who might have witnessed the assault may also be collected. Additional evidence, including surveillance camera footage and other digital evidence, can be used against your perpetrator as well.
Sexual Assault Criminal Case Vs. Civil Case
A sexual assault criminal case is one that is brought about as a crime against the state. Therefore, victims do not have a say in the direction of the case, but they are brought in as a witness against the accused. Criminal cases are brought forward by a prosecutor once you report your assault to your local law enforcement agency. Criminal cases are one of the best ways to hold your abuser accountable for their actions against you as they impose jail time and/or fines against them.
A civil case is one that is brought forward by a victim or their loved one. Civil cases are one of the best ways to get the restitution you deserve following a sexual assault. You can hold your abuser civilly liable and require them to pay for any medical treatments, including hospitalizations and mental health services, that resulted from your assault. You might also be able to seek out restitution for the pain and suffering you have endured.
How Much Does It Cost To File A Legal Case For Sexual Assault?
When you work with an experienced and reputable sexual assault lawyer, you should not be paying anything to file a legal case for your sexual assault. Instead, your case should seek to hold your abuser accountable by having them pay the legal fees on your behalf. Getting in touch with legal organizations that are committed to defending the rights of sexual assault survivors is another way to seek legal guidance without having to worry about payment.
Would My Conversation With A Sexual Assault Attorney Be Confidential?
Working with a dedicated, compassionate, and experienced sexual assault attorney brings with it the benefit of having a confidential consultation. At Bachus & Schanker, we are committed to offering confidential consultations for all victims who seek our help. This means working with a team that will not share personal information, including your name or other identifying info, with any entity or individual unless you specifically give permission.
For many sexual assault survivors, coming forward and detailing the assault can be an incredibly overwhelming task. We understand this and take your confidentiality seriously.
Are There Groups In Colorado To Help Me Cope With Sexual Assault?
Colorado has a number of resources and organizations that sexual assault victims can turn to. These resources can help you seek the educational and legal support, guidance, and help you need as you process your assault and progress toward recovery.
One notable organization is The Blue Bench. This organization is committed to offering support and resources for survivors of sexual assault. Additionally, they provide education and outreach to prevent sexual violence. Among their services are counseling, support groups, and a 24-hour hotline.
The Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CCASA) is another reputable organization committed to helping survivors of sexual assault. Visiting their website allows you access to a directory that will connect you to local service providers in your community.
How The Bachus & Schanker Law Firm Can Help Victims Of Sexual Assault
At the Bachus & Schanker law firm, we are committed to helping sexual assault survivors of all ages, genders, backgrounds, and sexual orientations seek the legal guidance they deserve. We have specialized victim advocates who work alongside our Elite Litigation Group to help you navigate the road ahead as you process and recover from your sexual assault.
Our victim advocates help provide support and collect pertinent evidence to aid your case. As one of the only law firms with a specialized team working for the rights of sexual assault survivors, you can count on getting the representation and support you deserve.
Drug-Facilitated Sexual Assault. (2023).
Scope of the Problem: Statistics. (2023).
Types of Sexual Violence. (2023).
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Written and Legally Reviewed By: Kyle Bachus
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Kyle is a member of the Colorado and Florida Bar associations and has served on the Board of Directors of the Colorado Trial Lawyers Association for more than twenty years in total. Over the years, Kyle has achieved justice for many clients. He has served on numerous committees and repeatedly won recognition from his peers at both the state and national level. He is proud of the role he has played in the passage of state and national legislation to protect consumers and is a frequent speaker and guest lecturer.