The victims of sexual abuse tend to be women and children, however men may also become targets, and the offender may be from the same sex. Anyone can become a victim irrespective of their personality, looks, principles or habits.
What is sexual assault?
We call “sexual assault” any act, when someone is forced or coerced into a sexual activity against his or her will, and without their consent.
We consider the following to be sexual assault:
- All forms of unwanted kissing or touching;
- Making someone have sex or participate in any activity they are uncomfortable with (oral, anal or rough sex), despite his or her reluctance or uncertainty;
- Denial of protection (use of condom) from sexually transmitted diseases or unwanted pregnancy;
- Any form of sexual activity with a person who is unable to clearly express their will (for example: anyone under the influence of drugs or alcohol; asleep or unconscious);
- Any attempt to do the above.
About the offenders
It is a general misconception that sexual assault is usually committed in public spaces. In reality, these offenses occur in the victim’s everyday environment, and the offender is usually someone whom the victim knows and trusts (partner, teacher, family member, co-worker, etc.). When the offense occurs on a date, it is called date rape; a significant number of sexual assaults are within intimate relationships. We also distinguish sexual abuse against minors. When a family member, guardian, or foster parent is the offender (usually against underage people) it is called incest. The victims of sexual abuse tend to be women and children, however men may also become targets, and the offender may be from the same sex. Anyone can become a victim irrespective of their personality, looks, principles or habits.
Offenders may use the following tools (with examples):
- Intimidation, blackmail (for their lack of consent, the victim is threatened to be killed, mutilated, and/or humiliated; or they’re threatened with rejection);
- Authority (the offender is in a higher hierarchical position, for example: a senior, teacher or leader);
- Manipulation, nagging (the offender pretends to have only friendly or helpful intentions, thus gaining trust; keeps trying against firm refusals);
- Abuse of the incapacity of the victim (the victim is drunk or under the influence of drugs, asleep, or emotionally distracted);
- Physical violence or force (the offender holds down, locks up, or hits the victim).
This is what blackmail and manipulation sound like
If you hear sentences like those listed below, it is possible you’re being blackmailed or manipulated into participating in a sexual activity that is against your will. If you yourself use these kinds of sentences, you must stop! If someone is willing to have sex with you, they will give you a clear sign. You have no right to make someone do something against their free will.
“C’mon, my balls hurt like hell when I’m turned on but can’t come.”
“I paid for the drinks and the ride – gotta get something in exchange.”
“It really turns me on when you kiss me, of course I can’t control myself.”
“I see you don’t even want me. No reason for us to stay together then.”
“You sleep with anyone, but me. Why don’t you?”
“So far all my girlfriends have enjoyed anal sex, I’m you’ll sure like it too.”
“Let me just caress you a bit…”
You always have the right to refuse the other. Under no circumstances should you be a participant of any sexual activity that you do not desire.
The pre-condition of having sex is mutual consent!
You can avoid sexually abusing your partner by making sure that you only engage in activities both of you desire. It should be obvious that you need to respect the ”no”, irrespective of whether it’s a verbal or a non-verbal ”no” (for example: when he/she distances herself/himself from you, or moves your hand further away).
Only the following forms of consent mean that you can go ahead with any form of sexual activity:
1. Active, clear and enthusiastic
The fact that your partner is not objecting does not mean consent. Wait for them to initiate, observe if they enjoy what you do, and before moving to the next stage, ask them if they’re OK. If you observe uncertainty, STOP. Only YES means YES.
If the other one is a minor, drunk, asleep or is in any way subordinated to you, then they are not in the position to give real consent. You should never initiate under such conditions.
3. Result of free decision
A ”yes” is only valid when the option of saying ”no” is equally available. If consent is given under pressure, out of fear, manipulation, or as a result of blackmail, it is not real consent.
Time and time again you need to make sure your partner is enjoying themselves, and is willing to go on. Even if you’re dating; even if you’ve done it before; even if they have given their consent to do something else, or if they initially told you it’s okay... Before getting into anything new, make sure your partner is still OK. Whenever any of you changes their mind, you must stop!
Should any of the above not apply, and you continue to pursue the sexual activity, you are committing sexual abuse!
How can we talk about sex?
It may sound like a strange idea, but sexual activity will be more enjoyable and safer if you talk about your desires and aversions both before and during the sex. You can practice alone how to ask your partner and how to say yes or no. Here are some examples below::
‘Would you like to sleep with me?’
‘Does it feel good?
Which parts do you like best?’
‘What turns you on?’
‘Would you like to...?’
‘Yes, let’s carry on.’
‘I really like it when…’
‘I don’t like this now!’
‘I normally like it when… but I’ m not in the mood this time!’
How can I be sure that I’m not in danger?
Our brain is a sensitive instrument which collects loads of information, and takes account of signs which are not always consciously detected in the moment. Paying attention to the following clues can help us indentify if we are in a dangerous situation:
You have a recurring bad feeling: (“I feel kind of weird with him/her.”)
You are on the edge: (“Come on! Why are we going this way? I said I don’t want to!”)
You have a sudden intuition: (“I should get out of the car”)
You are getting suspicious: (“I don’t think he’s telling the truth.”)
You feel fear.
Fear is a sign which should not be disregarded, even if we are not sure where it is coming from! Try to seek somebody’s help, protect yourself or leave the situation, even if others give you weird or dirty looks! Your intuitions can help you to avoid danger. Take them seriously!
What can I do if I’m threatened?
When we are threatened, our brain switches to another mode, and we cannot react or make step-by-step decisions in a calm manner.Being numb: this is when people are paralyzed by fear and they are unable to act. It is a common, and natural reaction in cases of sexual violence. The chance of numbness can be reduced if we contemplate what we can do in similar situations. Practicing with friends and/or participating in selfdefense classes are even better. If we try to protect ourselves, there is a good chance that the attacker will be discouraged from further attempts.
Here are some examples:
Request for help via phone or calling passersby;
Express strong protest (e.g. ’Stop it now!’);
Scream, threaten, or make a loud scene (e.g. Help! Fire!);
Scratch, punch, hit, kick, bite;
Escape as quickly as possible.
It’s essential that victims are not to be ashamed of or be blamed if they had no chance to resist or fight back (for any reason, including fear). The only responsible party for sexual violence is the perpetrator!
What can I do if I was the target of sexual assault?
If you are a victim of sexual assault, you have the right to protection, support and justice. Nobody has the right to do such things with others. The victim is never responsible for their victimization; that responsibility lies solely with the perpetrator. Most forms of sexual violence are against the law.
If you have been abused you can do the following:
Find a safe place!
Contact the police, ambulance, or any emergency service! Optimally they will forward you to forensic experts who can record the evidence properly. Do not take a shower or have a bath, and do not change your clothes, otherwise evidence may be lost or destroyed. In such cases it can be difficult to initiate a criminal complaint; however if you decide to do so, you will need to provide as much evidence as you can.
Talk to someone who is close to you, and who you trust! Sexual violence is never your fault! You have the right to support!
Most of the time, sexual violence has serious physical and mental effects, so it is worth asking for help! NANE explicitly maintains a helpline for victims of sexual violence where you can talk with professional female helpers.
The first version of this flyer was published in 2016 with the help of NGO Fund of the EEA/Norway Grants. This flyer can be freely photocopied and distributed in its entirety.
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NANE Helpline for abused women and children +36 80 505 101 (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 6pm -10 pm, Wednesday 10am-2pm)
General emergency number: 112
Published by NANE (Women’s Rights) Association 1447 Budapest, P.O.B. 502. www.nane.hu e-mail: email@example.com