What is Sexual Assault?

By Dr. Ken Manges, Ph.D. | Forensic Psychologist

Sexual assault occurs when a person forces another person into sexual activity against his or her will.

The Department of Justice says sexual assault takes many forms, including rape or attempted rape, as well as any unwanted sexual contact. The crime includes forced sexual intercourse (rape), sodomy (oral or anal sexual acts), child molestation, incest, fondling, and attempted rape.

  • Rape or sexual assault
  • Child sexual assault and incest
  • Sexual assault by a person’s spouse or partner
  • Unwanted sexual contact/touching
  • Sexual harassment
  • Sexual exploitation and trafficking
  • Exposing one’s genitals or naked body to other(s) without consent
  • Masturbating in public
  • Watching someone engage in private acts without their knowledge or permission
  • Nonconsensual image sharing

The National Sexual Violence Resource Center says that sexual assault is about power, not sex and that in the absence of consent, another person’s actions can be considered assault.

Consent is defined a more than a yes or no. It is a conversation about desires, needs and a partner’s level of comfort with different sexual interactions. Not saying no is not the same as meaning no. A person can resist, turn away, or move away. In the absence of saying yes, the person on the receiving end of the relationship is not to be considered saying yes.

As offered by the West Virginia Foundation for Rape Information; consent is a voluntary, sober, enthusiastic, informed, mutual, honest and verbal agreement. It is an active agreement and cannot be coerced. Consent is a process which must be asked for every step of the way. Consent cannot be assumed, even in a relationship.

Just because you are dating a person does not mean that you have natural permission to have sex with your partner. A PERSON WHO IS INTOXICATED CANNOT LEGALLY GIVE CONSENT. If you are too drunk to make decisions and communicate with your partner, you are too drunk to give consent. The absence of a “no” does not mean “yes.” Both people should be involved in the decision to have sex.

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Dr. Kenneth Manges - Forensic Psychologist and Vocational expert

Dr. Kenneth Manges is a Forensic Psychologist and vocational expert who offers consultation and comprehensive evaluations. His analyses have been recognized for their clarity and scientific rigor. He offers reasonably certain opinions about the psychological impact of physical injury or emotional trauma as they affect earning capacity and the impact of loss on future work and quality of life. Well regarded in the litigation arena, he is a trusted and respected authority and offers evaluations that have been consistently upheld in both state and federal courts.