Sexual assault is exactly what it sounds like: an assault of a sexual nature on another person. Though what offenses are included under the umbrella name of “sexual assault” differs state-by-state, sexual assault can include rape, child sexual abuse, incest, sexual harassment, dating and domestic violence, and hate crimes.* 1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men are sexually assaulted in their lifetime. College age women are 4 times more likely to be sexually assaulted. 60% of sexual assaults are not reported to the police. Think 60% is low? Something to consider: That number has increased by 1/3rd since 1993. Every two minutes someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted.**
What constitutes a sexual assault is determined by the law of the jurisdiction where the assault takes place, which vary considerably, and are influenced by local social and cultural attitudes. For instance, under North Carolina law (the state in which I reside) the term “rape” only refers to penile penetration of the vagina. All other forms of unwanted penetration are referred to as a sexual offense. This means a lot of things, but one of the things this means is that the 3% of men who have experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime, a statistic that makes up 10% of all rape victims, weren’t “raped”, per se– just offended.
* Click any of the types of sexual assault to learn more at the website for the nation’s largest anti-sexual assault organization RAINN (Rape Abuse & Incest National Network).
** It took me about an hour to research and write this blog. It’ll take you at least two minutes to read it. Ten minutes if you click on all the links. Between the time you and I both spent on this blog post, 36 people were sexually assaulted.