What is sexual assault?
Though legal definitions differ from one place to another, the general term “sexual assault” can refer to unwanted sexual contact, sometimes involving physical force. It can involve such things as child or teen sexual abuse, incest, rape, and sexual exploitation by a “helping professional”
According to one survey, each year in the United States alone, almost a quarter of a million people report being sexually assaulted. Nearly half of them are between the ages of 12 and 18.
What you should know
The Bible condemns sexual assault. The Bible tells of a sex-crazed mob that sought to rape two males visiting the city of Sodom approximately 4,000 years ago
—an incident that highlighted why Jehovah destroyed that city. (Genesis 19:4- 13) Additionally, the Law given to Moses some 3,500 years ago prohibited incest, including the sexual assault of a family member. —Leviticus 18:6.
Most assaults are carried out by an acquaintance. “In two out of three rapes, the victim knows her attacker,” says the book Talking Sex With Your Kids. “He isn’t some stranger who jumped out from behind a dumpster.”
Sexual assault happens to both genders. In the United States, about 10 percent of victims are males. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), male victims “may experience a fear that the assault will make them gay” or that “they are ‘less of a man.’”
The prevalence of sexual assault is hardly surprising. The Bible foretold that in “the last days” many people would have “no natural affection” and would be “fierce” and “without self-control.” (2 Timothy 3:
1-3) Those traits are clearly manifest in people who try to take advantage of others sexually.
Sexual assault is not the victim’s fault. No one deserves to be taken advantage of sexually. The offender alone is responsible for his or her actions. Nevertheless, you can take measures to reduce the likelihood of sexual assault.
What you can do
Be prepared. Know in advance what you will do if someone
—even a dating partner or relative —tries to pressure you into sexual contact. A young woman named Erin recommends that to prepare for any type of peer-pressure situation, you could play out potential scenarios and prepare how you would react. “It may seem hokey,” she says, “but in a real-life situation, you’ll be less likely to become a victim.”
The Bible says: “Keep strict watch that how you walk is not as unwise but as wise persons, . . . because the days are wicked.”
—Ephesians 5: 15, 16.
Ask yourself: ‘What would I do if someone touched me in a way that made me feel uneasy?’
Have an exit plan. RAINN recommends that you “have a code word with your friends or family so that if you don’t feel comfortable you can call them and communicate your discomfort without the person you are with knowing. Your friends or family can then come to get you or make up an excuse for you to leave.” You can spare yourself much grief by avoiding risky situations in the first place.
The Bible says: “The shrewd one sees the danger and conceals himself, but the inexperienced keep right on going and suffer the consequences.”
Ask yourself: ‘What exit plan do I have in place?’
—and stick to them. For example, if you’re dating, you and your friend should discuss what type of conduct is and is not appropriate. If the person you are dating thinks setting boundaries is silly, you need a different dating partner —one who respects your values.
The Bible says: “Love . . . does not behave indecently, does not look for its own interests.”
—1 Corinthians 13: 4, 5.
Ask yourself: ‘What are my values? What type of conduct crosses the line of decency?’
Read firsthand expressions from abuse victims who have recovered.
Learn what sexual harassment is and what to do if you are a victim of it.
Hear what five young people say about being harassed and what to do when it happens.