Overview

Sexual contact that occurs without the consent of all parties involved has been broadly termed sexual assault. Anyone—men and women, boys and girls of all ages and backgrounds—can become a victim of a sexual assault. The present chapter focuses on sexual assaults that are committed by either someone the victim does not know (a stranger) or someone the victim knows but is not involved in an intimate relationship with, such as a friend, neighbor, or coworker. (A later chapter describes characteristics of sexual assaults that occur within dating and marital relationships.) Additionally, this chapter does not cover sexual assault incidents that may have occurred during childhood. This chapter details definitions of various forms of sexual assault, provides sexual assault prevalence rates, describes the dynamics of sexual assault situations, and delineates the potential effects of sexual assault on the victim.

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