What is Sexual Violence?

Sexual violence is any act or behavior (verbal or physical) that is sexual in nature and conducted through force, threats, coercion, manipulation, or abuse of power. Sexual violence is a tool of oppression often used to intimidate, target, and exploit historically marginalized communities and populations. However, sexual violence affects people of all identities, ages, and abilities. Perpetrators of sexual violence come from all walks of life and identities. They can be acquaintances, family members, intimate partners, trusted individuals, or strangers. Sexual violence is never the fault of the victim/survivor. Perpetrators are fully responsible for their actions. Sexual violence can have a profound effect on a person’s well-being and the healing process is different for everyone. Experiences with institutionalized racism may make it difficult for victims and survivors of color to trust the systems and institutions that are supposed to help them. Some survivors find support from local sexual assault programs, family, friends, and other sources.