For October’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month, I am continuing a series on the various abuses. Now, I will proceed with the next abuse: Rape
The terms rape or sexual abuse or sexual assault vary depending on each state. The definitions also vary with each state with different words used to mean the same thing. So, each state can have a different legal definition. A general definition used by the U.S. Justice Department is:
“Rape is a type of forced sexual assault. It usually involves sexual intercourse which is initiated by one or more persons against another person… without the victim’s consent. It may include vaginal, anal, or oral penetration. Penetration may be by a body part or an object. The sexual act may be carried out by threats, physical force, abuse of authority, or against a person who is incapable of giving consent, such as a child or below the legal age of consent, or someone unconscious or incapacitated.” Unfortunately, anyone can be a victim of rape… women, men, or children.
“Sexual assault is unwanted sexual contact that stops short of rape or attempted rape. This includes sexual touching and fondling. (But, be aware: Some states use this term interchangeably with rape.”
A major consideration is determining whether or not a sex act that occurred was consensual or a crime.
“There are three main considerations in judging whether or not a sexual act is consensual or is a crime.
- Are the participants old enough to consent? Each state sets an “age of consent,” which is the minimum age someone must be to have sex. People below this age are considered children and cannot legally agree to have sex. In other words, even if the child or teenager says yes, the law says no.
- Do both people have the capacity to consent? States also define who has the mental and legal capacity to consent. Those with diminished capacity — for example, some people with disabilities, some elderly people and people who have been drugged or are unconscious — may not have the legal ability to agree to have sex.
- Did both participants agree to take part? Did someone use physical force to make you have sexual contact with him/her? Has someone threatened you to make you have intercourse with them? If so, it is rape.”
Remember… NO means NO and NO also means STOP!
“It doesn’t matter if you think your partner means yes, or if you’ve already started having sex — “No” also means “Stop.” If you proceed despite your partner’s expressed instruction to stop, you have not only violated basic codes of morality and decency, You may have also committed a crime under the laws of your state.”