Is It Sexual Assault?

If you are in immediate danger or feel unsafe, call 911.

YWCA 24-Hour Confidential Helpline
616.454.YWCA (616.454.9922)

Every state has its own definitions of rape and sexual assault, so the precise legal definition depends on where you live. The general meaning of the terms “sexual assault” and “rape” are described below.

Sexual assault includes a wide range of victimizations, distinct from rape or attempted rape. These crimes include completed or attempted assaults generally involving unwanted or non-consensual sexual contact between the victim and offender. Sexual assaults may or may not involve physical force and can include such things as grabbing or fondling. Sexual assault can also include verbal threats.

Rape is forced sexual intercourse, including psychological coercion and/or physical force. Forced sexual intercourse means vaginal, anal and/or oral penetration by the offender(s). This definition includes incidents where the penetration is from a foreign object. This includes attempted rapes, male and female victims, and rape committed by an offender who is either the same or different gender as the victim.

The relationship between the assailant and the victim is not a factor in determining whether rape or assault has occurred.

Information provided by the US Department of Justice National Crime Victimization Survey; and Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network [RAINN]