Sexual Violence, What Is It And How To Protect Yourself

The feel of his dry papery hands on the back of my neck sends cold chills down my back. I want to scream and run out his office but the hours that I have spent working keeps me in the chair. This opportunity for this promotion is with in my grasp.  

When he called me into his office I was walking on air knowing my work was finally going to be acknowledged!  The time with friends and family that I have sacrificed putting in extra hours and taking on new projects is going to pay off.  

I took a seat across from his desk and listened excitedly as he told me that he had noticed all of the hard work I had been putting in.  

“Let’s take this conversation to after-hours drinks and you can show me how much you want this promotion.” he says sliding his hands down my shoulders.  

I freeze, my stomach feels like I am going to puke. I don’t know what to do, if I say no, I will not get the promotion, and then I may be on the list for the next round of layoffs. I don’t know who to talk to about this. I feel ashamed, humiliated, scared, and alone.  

What is Sexual Violence? 

Sexual violence is any unwanted sexual activity that affects someone without their consent (NSVRC, 2010).  

Every year, an average of 433,648 people, ages 12 and older, experienced rape and sexual assault in the United States (RAINN, 2021a).  

Sexual violence can come from acquaintances, family members, trusted individuals, employers, or strangers and causes lasting trauma to individuals, families, and communities (RAINN, 2021b).  

Sexual violence threatens people of all ages, genders, and sexual orientations; anyone can experience sexual violence (RAINN, 2021a). 

If you are a victim of sexual violence, you are not alone and it is NOT YOUR FAULT. 

Forms of sexual violence

  • Rape, sexual assault, and any type of forced or coerced sexual encounters from a stranger, acquaintance, co-worker, supervisor, friend, family member, intimate partner, or spouse. 
  • Sexual encounters perpetrated while a person is unwilling or unable to give consent. 
  • Unwanted sexual contact/touching or physical contact that makes a person uncomfortable. 
  • Sexual harassment, such as inappropriate compliments, sexual jokes, lewd remarks, or repeated sexual advances. 
  • Sexual exploitation, such as offers of something in exchange for sexual favors (ex. the giving of job promotions, money, or any other benefits in return for sexual contact or material). 
  • Showing one’s genitals or a naked body to other(s) without consent. 
  • Masturbating in public. 
  • Watching someone in a private act without their knowledge or permission.  


What it IS  

Consent IS a clear and freely communicated agreement between legal-age participants to engage in sexual activity. 

Consent IS something that has to happen every time, for every type of activity and can be withdrawn at any point. 

What it is NOT  

Consent is NOT physiological responses like an erection, lubrication, arousal, or orgasm . 

Consent is NOT something that can be given by individuals who are underage, intoxicated or incapacitated by drugs or alcohol, asleep, or unconscious. 

Consent is NOT something that can be given under pressure of intimidation, or threat. 

Consent is NOT something that can be given under unequal power dynamics, such as sexual activity between an employer and an employee as it cannot be freely given in such a situation. 

Consent is NOT perpetual. Consenting to one activity, one time, does not mean someone gives consent for other activities, or for the same activity on other occasions. For example, having sex with someone in the past doesn’t give that person permission to have sex with you again in the future. 

Consent is NOT wearing certain clothes, flirting, or kissing. 

How Common is Sexual Violence? 

It is estimated that 1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men have experienced an attempted or completed rape at some point in their lives (NSVRC, 2010). 

In addition, studies have shown that at least 47% of transgender and non-binary individuals have experience some form of sexual violence in their lifetime (James et al., 2016). 

What is Military Sexual Trauma? 

Military sexual trauma (MST) is a form of sexual violence. MST occurs when a service member experiences sexual assault or sexual harassment at any point during their military service (DAV, 2019). 

How common is Military Sexual Trauma? 

In 2018, over 6,000 service members reported experiencing sexual assault during military service, however, many sexual assaults go unreported and it is estimated that that actual number of sexual assaults for that year numbed over 20,000 (DAV, 2019). 

About 1 in 4 female veterans and 1 in 100 male veterans in the VA healthcare system have reported experiencing MST (DAV, 2019). It is important to understand that these numbers do not reflect unreported MST, the rates of which may be higher among men. 

Furthermore, studies have found that, at least, 15.2% of transgender women and 30.0% of transgender men have experienced sexual violence during their military service (Beckman et al., 2018). 

Resources for Victims of Sexual Violence 


RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline in partnership with more than 1,000 local sexual assault service providers across the country.  

Call 800-656-HOPE (4673) to access their National Sexual Assault Hotline. 
You can also access their online chat hotline by clicking here. 
For the Spanish online chat hotline, click here

Stop Street Harassment 

Stop Street Harassment is a nonprofit organization dedicated to documenting and ending gender-based street harassment worldwide. 
Call 855-897-5910 to access their National Street Harassment Hotline.
You can also access their online chat hotline, by clicking here


FORGE is a national transgender anti-violence organization, federally funded to provide direct services to transgender, gender non-conforming and gender non-binary survivors of sexual assault. 
To access their database of videos, articles, and webinars on sexual violence, click here 


1in6 is a nonprofit organization that provides support and information to male survivors of sexual abuse and assault, as well as their loved ones and service providers. 
To access their online chat hotline, click here

Anti-Violence Project 

Anti-Violence Project (AVP) is an organization that is dedicated to providing support to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and HIV-affected victims of all forms of violence. 

Call 212-714-1141 to access the anti-violence hotline. 

You can also report violence by clicking here

National Sexual Violence Resource Center 

The National Sexual Violence Resource Center is an organization that provides resources and tools to end sexual harassment, assault, and abuse. 
To access their directory of organizations that provide resources to victims of sexual violence, click here

Safe Helpline 

Safe Helpline  is a confidential system that provides live, one-on-one support and information to MST survivors. 

Call their Telephone Helpline at 877-995-5247 
Visit the Online Helpline by clicking here
Download the free Self-Care App(iOS and Android).

For More Sexual Violence Information & Resources: 

Visit Know A Vet? for a list of resources for a wide range of issues and resources by zip code. Your local VSO can help connect you to other veteran or civilian organizations. To find your local VSO visit Know A Vet? and put your zip code in the box toward the top of the home page for your local Federal, State, and County resources.  

Watch for future articles from Know A Vet? that will discuss how Veterans and their families can improve their lives.

If this information would help someone you know, show them you are thinking of them by forwarding this email.  If you received this email from someone and would like to receive your own FREE newsletter click here to sign up. 

Article Sources 

Beckman, K., Shipherd, J., Simpson, T., & Lehavot, K. (2018). “Military Sexual Assault in Transgender Veterans: Results From a Nationwide Survey.” Journal of traumatic stress, 31(2), 181–190. Retrieved from 

DAV. (2019). “Military Sexual Trauma – MST.” Retrieved from James, S. E., Herman, J. L., Rankin, S., Keisling, M., Mottet, L., & Anafi, M. (2016). The Report of the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey. Washington, DC: National Center for Transgender Equality. [PDF]. Retrieved from 

National Sexual Violence Resource Center, NSVRC. (2010). “What Is Sexual Violence? Fact Sheet.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. [PDF]. Retrieved from 

RAINN. (2021a). “Victims of Sexual Violence: Statistics.” Retrieved from RAINN (2021b). “What Consent Looks Like.” Retrieved from 

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