Sexual assault
ICD-9 E960.1
MedlinePlus 001955
eMedicine article/806120
MeSH D011902

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Sexual assault

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Konstantin Makovsky, The Bulgarian martyresses, a painting depicting the atrocities of bashibazouks in Bulgaria during the Russo-Turkish War (1877–1878)

Sexual assault is an assault of a sexual nature on another person, or any sexual act committed without consent. Although sexual assaults most frequently are by a man on a woman, it may be by a man on a man, woman on a man or woman on a woman, adult on a child, adult on an adult, child on a child or child on an adult.Sexual assault is the name of a statutory offence in Canada, England and Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Texas.What constitutes a sexual assault is determined by the laws of the jurisdiction where the assault takes place. These vary considerably and are influenced by local social and cultural attitudes.[citation needed] While sexual assaults are associated with the crime of rape, the category includes assaults other than rape. Sexual assault may include rape (such as forced vaginal, anal or oral penetration), inappropriate touching, forced kissing, child sexual abuse, or the torture of the victim in a sexual manner.Within the United States, about 300,000 women are raped each year and 3.7 million women are subjected to other forms of unwanted sexual activity. About 80,000 American children are sexually abused each year. It has been estimated that one in six American women have been or will be sexually assaulted during their lives. Largely because of child and prison rape, approximately ten percent of reported rape victims are male.

Definition

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In the United States the definition of sexual assault varies widely between the individual states. The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network defines sexual assault as "unwanted sexual contact that stops short of rape or attempted rape. This includes sexual touching and fondling."

Rape


Outside of law, the term rape ("an assault by a person involving sexual intercourse with another person without that person's consent") is often used interchangeably with sexual assault, a closely related (but in most jurisdictions technically distinct) form of assault typically including rape and other forms of non-consensual sexual activity.

Abbey et al. state that female victims are much more likely to be assaulted by an acquaintance (such as a friend or co-worker), a dating partner, an ex-boyfriend or an intimate partner than by a complete stranger. In a study of hospital emergency room treatments for rape, Kaufman et al. state that the male victims as a group sustained more physical trauma, were more likely to have been a victim of multiple assaults from multiple assailants, and were more likely to have been held captive longer.

Domestic violence
Domestic violence is a crime of power and intimidation. It relates highly to sexual assault. Not only can the abuse be emotional, physical, psychological, and financial, but it can be sexual. Some of the signs of sexual abuse are very similar to those of domestic violence.

Attempted rape
Attempted rape is a failed attempt to force sexual intercourse with someone without their consent. Attempted rape under the Criminal Attempts Act 1981 is a 'sexual offence' within section 31(1) of the Criminal Justice Act 1991. Sexual Harassment is also closely related. This may include leering, pressure for dates, pressing or rubbing against a person, obscene phone calls, bra snapping, wolf-whistles, lip-smacking, indecent exposure, sexual discrimination, displaying explicit materials, sexist jokes, unwanted grabbing, comments about person's body, soliciting sexual services.

Emotional effects

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Traumatic events such as rape and sexual assault have, aside from obvious physical traumas, profound long-term psychological effects on all victims including but not limited to children who are assault victims. These include: denial, helplessness, dislike of sex, anger, self-blame, anxiety, shame, nightmares, fear, depression, flashbacks, guilt, rationalization, mood-swings, numbness, promiscuity, loneliness, social anxiety, difficulty trusting oneself or others, difficulty concentrating. Family and friends experience emotional scarring including a strong desire for revenge, a desire to "fix' the problem and/or move on, and a rationalization that "it wasn't that bad".

Prevalence

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A United Nations report compiled from government sources showed that more than 250,000 cases of rape or attempted rape were recorded by police annually. The reported data covered 65 countries.

Child sexual abuse

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Sexual assaults on children are normally viewed far more seriously than those on an adult. This is because of the innocence of the child victim, and also because of the long-term psychological impact that such assaults have on the child.

Child sexual abuse is a form of child abuse in which an adult or older adolescent abuses a child for sexual stimulation. Forms of CSA include asking or pressuring a child to engage in sexual activities (regardless of the outcome), indecent exposure of the genitals to a child, displaying pornography to a child, actual sexual contact against a child, physical contact with the child's genitals, viewing of the child's genitalia without physical contact, or using a child to produce child pornography.

The effects of child sexual abuse include depression,post-traumatic stress disorder,anxiety, propensity to re-victimization in adulthood, and physical injury to the child, among other problems. Sexual abuse by a family member is a form of incest, is more common than other forms of sexual assault on a child, and can result in more serious and long-term psychological trauma, especially in the case of parental incest.

Approximately 15% to 25% of women and 5% to 15% of men were sexually abused when they were children. Most sexual abuse offenders are acquainted with their victims; approximately 30% are relatives of the child, most often brothers, fathers, mothers, sisters and uncles or cousins; around 60% are other acquaintances such as friends of the family, babysitters, or neighbors; strangers are the offenders in approximately 10% of child sexual abuse cases.

Studies have shown that the psychological damage is often particularly severe when sexual assault is committed by parents against children due to the incestuous nature of the assault. Incest between a child or adolescent and a related adult has been identified as the most widespread form of child sexual abuse with a huge capacity for damage to a child. Often, sexual assault on a child is not reported by the child for several reasons:

  • children are too young to recognize their victimization or put it into words
  • they were threatened or bribed by the abuser
  • they feel confused by fearing the abuser but liking the attention
  • they are afraid no one will believe them
  • they blame themselves or believe the abuse is a punishment
  • they feel guilty for consequences to the perpetrator


Severe sexual assault has been found to be damaging to children.

Elderly sexual assault

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Elderly sexual assault is victimization of persons over the age of 60, most of whom suffer from decreased functionality, frailty, and weakness and therefore are reliant on caretakers. Only 30% of people age 65 or older who are victimized report it to the police. The most common assailants are caretakers, adult children, spouses and fellow facility residents. Signs that an elder is being assaulted include increased vaginal tearing, bleeding, bruising, infection, pelvic injury, soft tissue or bone injury. Also, an altered mood might be an indication of sexual assault. These symptoms include extreme agitation, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, withdrawal, panic attacks, STDs, exacerbation of existing illness, sleep disturbences, longer recovery times.

Canada

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Sexual assault is defined as sexual contact with another person without that other person's consent. Consent is defined in section 273.1(1) as "the voluntary agreement of the complainant to engage in the sexual activity in question".

Section 265 of the Criminal Code of Canada defines the offenses of assault and sexual assault.

Section 271 criminalizes "Sexual assault", section 272 criminalizes "Sexual assault with a weapon, threats to a third party or causing bodily harm" and section 273 criminalizes "Aggravated sexual assault".

Consent
The absence of consent defines the crime of sexual assault. Section 273.1 (1) defines consent, section 273.1 (2) outlines certain circumstances where "no consent" is obtained, while section 273.1 (3) states that subsection (2) does not limit the circumstances where "no consent" is obtained (i.e. subsection (2) describes some circumstances which deem the act to be non-consensual, but other circumstances, not described in this section, can also deem the act as having been committed without consent). "No consent" to sexual assault is also subject to Section 265 (3), which also outlines several situations where the act is deemed non-consensual. In 2011, the Supreme Court of Canada in R. v. J.A. interpreted the provisions below to find that a person must have an active mind during the sexual activity in order to consent, and that they cannot give consent in advance.

  • Meaning of “consent”


273.1 (1) Subject to subsection (2) and subsection 265(3), “consent” means, for the purposes of sections 271, 272 and 273, the voluntary agreement of the complainant to engage in the sexual activity in question.

Where no consent obtained

(2) No consent is obtained, for the purposes of sections 271, 272 and 273, where (a) the agreement is expressed by the words or conduct of a person other than the complainant; (b) the complainant is incapable of consenting to the activity; (c) the accused induces the complainant to engage in the activity by abusing a position of trust, power or authority; (d) the complainant expresses, by words or conduct, a lack of agreement to engage in the activity; or (e) the complainant, having consented to engage in sexual activity, expresses, by words or conduct, a lack of agreement to continue to engage in the activity.

Subsection (2) not limiting

(3) Nothing in subsection (2) shall be construed as limiting the circumstances in which no consent is obtained.

  • Section 265(3)


Consent

(3) For the purposes of this section, no consent is obtained where the complainant submits or does not resist by reason of (a) the application of force to the complainant or to a person other than the complainant; (b) threats or fear of the application of force to the complainant or to a person other than the complainant; (c) fraud; or (d) the exercise of authority.

In accordance with 265 (4) an accused may use the defense that he believed that the complainant consented, but such a defence may be used only when "a judge, if satisfied that there is sufficient evidence and that, if believed by the jury, the evidence would constitute a defence, shall instruct the jury when reviewing all the evidence relating to the determination of the honesty of the accused's belief, to consider the presence or absence of reasonable grounds for that belief"; furthermore according to section 273.2(b) the accused must show that he took reasonable steps in order to ascertain the complainant's consent, also 273.2(a) states that if the accused's belief steams from self-induced intoxication, or recklessness or wilful blindness than such belief is not a defense.

  • 265 (4)


Accused’s belief as to consent

(4) Where an accused alleges that he believed that the complainant consented to the conduct that is the subject-matter of the charge, a judge, if satisfied that there is sufficient evidence and that, if believed by the jury, the evidence would constitute a defence, shall instruct the jury, when reviewing all the evidence relating to the determination of the honesty of the accused’s belief, to consider the presence or absence of reasonable grounds for that belief.

  • Where belief in consent not a defence


273.2 It is not a defence to a charge under section 271, 272 or 273 that the accused believed that the complainant consented to the activity that forms the subject-matter of the charge, where (a) the accused’s belief arose from the accused’s

(i) self-induced intoxication, or

(ii) recklessness or wilful blindness; or (b) the accused did not take reasonable steps, in the circumstances known to the accused at the time, to ascertain that the complainant was consenting.

United Kingdom

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England and Wales
Sexual assault is a statutory offence in the England and Wales. It is created by section 3 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 which defines "sexual assault" as when a person (A)

Northern Ireland
Sexual assault is a statutory offence. It is created by article 7 of the Sexual Offences (Northern Ireland) Order 2008. Sexual assault is defined as follows:

Scotland
Sexual assault is a statutory offence. It is created by section 3 of the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009. Sexual assault is defined as follows:

United States

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Texas
Penal Code, Sec. 22.011.(a) creates the offence of sexual assault. It reads:



See also

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  • R v Collins
  • Sexual assault in the U.S. military
  • Tailhook scandal
  • 2003 U.S. Air Force Academy sexual assault scandal
  • List of anti-sexual assault organizations in the United States


Some of the content on this page has been provided by the following page on Wikipedia.org: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_assault


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