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Victims of Sexual Assault

What is Sexual Assault?

Sexual assault is any unwanted, non-consensual sexual act in which a person is threatened, coerced or forced to comply against their will, or when a person is unable to give consent because they are a minor, unconscious, asleep or incapacitated due to drugs or alcohol.

A perpetrator of sexual assault may be known or unknown to the victim; he or she could be a date, partner, spouse, acquaintance, family member or stranger. 

What is Affirmative Consent?

In California, "Affirmative Consent" or Yes Means Yes law, (Senate Bill 967), is defined as positive cooperation. Consent must be freely and voluntarily given, and participants must have knowledge and understanding of the act. Here are links to videos that will help frame the context to his law about affirmative consent: 

Cup of Tea Consent Video

It’s On Us: One Thing Video

Consent cannot be given when force, threat of force, coercion or fraud is used to gain compliance.

Consent cannot be given when someone

  • is incapacitated due to alcohol or other drug use
  • is asleep or unconscious
  • is under the legal age of consent (18 years old in California)
  • has limited mental capacity due to a disability or mental illness

Consent can also be revoked, even in the middle of a sex act. If someone physically or verbally communicates to the other person that s/he does not wish to continue with the sexual act or encounter, the other person must immediately stop. If s/he does not stop when asked, any sex act after consent has been revoked is considered assault.

What Should I Do if I’m a Victim of Sexual Assault?

The first thing you should know is that sexual assault is NEVER the victim’s fault.

Your safety is most important. Please make sure you are in a safe place.

If you have any injuries that need medical attention, you may choose to go to the hospital.

Options for Evidentiary Exam within 72 Hours

If the sexual assault happened within 72 hours, you may choose to have an evidentiary exam in order to collect evidence of the assault.

Usually, law enforcement approves the exam for evidentiary purposes; however, if you are not sure you want to report the assault to the police, you may be eligible for an exam as specified by the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (VAWA).

A VAWA exam may allow you to obtain evidence while it’s still possible to do so, and give you some time to think about reporting the crime.