What is Sexual Violence?

Sexual violence is not just about sex – it’s about power and control.

Sexual violence is a broad term used to define the continuum of acts of violence. Sexual violence means that someone forces or manipulates someone else into unwanted sexual activity without their consent.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines sexual violence as “unwanted sexual contact that happens without consent, including rape, molestation, and harassment.” Sexual violence can happen to anyone, regardless of age, gender, race, religion, or economic status.

Sexual violence is preventable. Individuals and communities can work together to create environments that support healthy relationships and respect for all people. By understanding what Sexual Violence is, we can work to prevent it.

Reasons someone might not consent include fear, age, illness, disability, and/or influence of alcohol or other drugs. Anyone can experience sexual violence including children, teens, adults, and elders. Those who sexually abuse could be acquaintances, family members, trusted individuals, or strangers.

The continuum of sexual violence includes

  • Rape or sexual assault
  • Acquaintance rape
  • Statutory Rape
  • Child sexual assault and incest
  • Marital or Intimate partner rape
  • Unwanted sexual contact/touching
  • Sexual harassment
  • Sexual exploitation
  • Showing one’s genitals or naked body to other(s) without consent
  • Masturbating in public
  • Voyeurism (Watching someone in a private act without their knowledge or permission)

Sexual Violence is Preventable. By working with WOAR you can learn to:

Help is available.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual violence or is a survivor of sexual violence and would like support, WOAR is here for you. Please contact WOAR at 215-985-3333.