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What is Sexual Assault?

People's first dignity is the right over their own body. If they feel dread, fear, shock, horror, humiliation, disgust, or even reluctance over anything another person is trying to make them do with their body, they are being sexually assaulted.

Sexual assault includes any type of sexual conduct or contact that is nonconsensual, forced or coerced. The continuum of sexual assault includes rape, attempted rape, statutory rape, acquaintance rape, marital/partner rape, sexual harassment, child molestation, incest, sexual exploitation, stalking, exposure, and voyeurism. Sexual assault occurs any time a person is forced into any sexual act. Force includes physical violence, verbal threats, threatening to "out" someone, overpowering the person, manipulation, using a weapon, drugging someone, abusing authority or taking advantage of someone or their situation. For example, a person who is incapacitated from drugs or alcohol cannot give consent to sex. Consent has to be mutually given and freely given by both parties.

Sexual Assaults can occur in any type of relationship. It can happen with friends, acquaintances, family, co-workers, and intimate partners (including spouses) and strangers. It can also happen between doctors and patients, students and teachers, clergy and parishioners, parents and their children. Sexual assault crosses all socioeconomic boundaries. Sexual assault can happen to anyone of either gender at any age. Other offenses happen when the personal space or safety of an individual is violated (e.g., obscene phone calls, being stalked, or being exposed to pornography without consent).

Remember, sexual assault is a crime motivated by the need to control, humiliate, and harm. It's a crime even if you already know the person who attacked you and even if you've had consensual sex with them in the past. It's a crime even if you were too afraid to fight back. It's a crime even if you were drinking, taking drugs, given drugs, or unconscious. It does not matter if it happened years ago or if you have been told "It wasn't a big deal." It does not matter if it was not a completed rape, or if you were not physically hurt. Any type of sexual assault, at any time is a crime and only the perpetrator of these crimes can be held responsible for their actions.

What To Do If You're Sexually Assaulted

  • Get to a safe place...
    • If you cannot get somewhere safe, call 911 immediately.
  • Don't shower, eat, drink, go to the bathroom, brush your teeth, or change your clothes before going to SAC or the hospital...
    • These activities may eliminate valuable evidence that could assist in prosecution if you choose to file a police report. However, if you have already done these things, please don't let this stop you from seeking medical care. If you have already changed your clothes, place the clothes in a clean paper bag and bring them with you. New clothes will be provided for you.
  • Seek medical attention...
    • There may be serious injuries from the assault that are not visible to you. A doctor or nurse can help make sure you are okay and treat you for possible sexually transmitted diseases as well as offer medication to prevent pregnancy (Emergency Contraception). If you are considering police involvement you should call the police or the SAC hotline within 72 hours of the assault. (3 days)
  • Decide whether you want to make a police report...
    • Choosing to report the assault to the police is an individual decision, so don't let anyone pressure you either way or another. You do not need to report to police in order to receive medical care, or to receive any of the services that SAC provides. If you do decide to report the crime, the medical exam can be performed at the hospital or at the Sexual Assault Center. Please be aware that if you go to the hospital, they will most likely report the assault to the police. It is up to you, however, to decide if you want to talk to the officer or not.
  • Get information whenever you have questions or concerns...
    • After a sexual assault, you have a lot of choices and decisions to make - e.g., medical care and follow-up needs, participating in law enforcement investigation, telling other people, returning to work. Ask questions if you are confused or not sure about your options.
  • Ask about Crime Victims Compensation...
    • As a victim of a crime, you may be eligible for reimbursement for the financial impact of the assault. The Georgia Crime Victim's Compensation Program assists with expenses associated with loss of work, counseling, and other qualified expenses. If you would like to understand your rights and information about crime victim's compensation you may meet with an advocate to assist you in the application and filing process. Contact SAC for additional information at 706-802-0580
  • Seek support for yourself...
    • You have been through a traumatic experience and may need help dealing with the impact of the assault. Even if it happened a long time ago, it is never too late to talk to someone about it. You do not have to go through this alone. The SAC offers free and confidential support services for survivors of all forms of sexual violence. You can call our 24-hour helpline to speak to a counselor or set up a time to meet one-on-one.