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What is Sexual Assault?
What is Sexual Assault?
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What is Sexual Assault?

Any kind of sexual behaviors or touching another person’s breasts, genitals or buttocks without that person’s permission (also known as consent) is sexual assault. The age at which someone can consent to sex varies from state to state, but no one who is under 16 can legally consent to sex in any state.

Sexual assault includes forcing or pressuring a person to have sexual intercourse (rape), having sexual intercourse or engaging in other sexual behaviors with a parent, child, sibling, grandchild or other close family member (incest) or any sexual behavior between an adult and a young person who is too young to agree to this behavior (child molestation or sexual abuse). Sexual assault can happen to anyone, and it is illegal. Sexual assault is a lot more common than we think, and it’s never okay, even if the person committing the assault is someone a person knows or a relative.

It is important to remember that sexual assault is never the fault of the person being assaulted or abused, even if the person doing the assaulting or touching says it’s the young person’s fault. What a person was wearing or if they had been using drugs or alcohol does not make sexual assault the fault of the person who is assaulted. Sexual assault, regardless of the situation, is never okay. Sometimes a person may feel like sexual assault is their fault because the touching felt good, but sexual assault is never the young person’s fault.

If you or someone you know was touched in a way that was not okay or if you were forced to touch someone else in a way that makes you uncomfortable, don’t keep it a secret. Even if the person who did this is an adult or an older kid who told you not to tell anyone, you should tell someone. Tell someone you trust—like a parent, family member, teacher, friend’s parent or neighbour. If the first person you tell doesn’t do anything, tell someone else you trust. Keep telling adults you trust until you get help.

Someone showed me pornographic material, and it made me uncomfortable. I don’t know what to do about it.

It’s not right that this happened to you, and it is not your fault. No one should show a young person pornographic videos or pictures. It can make a person feel uncomfortable and is against the law. Don’t keep this a secret. Find someone you trust, like a parent, family member, teacher, coach, a friend’s parent or neighbour, and tell them what happened. There are people out there who can help. By law, most adult professionals (like teachers, coaches and doctors) are required to report this information to the police, so they can help to protect you. You may be worried about getting the person who showed you pornography in trouble, but remember that you have done nothing wrong and deserve to be safe. The best way to prevent this from happening again or to someone else is to talk to a trusted adult. You could talk face to face or on the phone. You could also send a text, email or letter. You could even make a drawing, if that’s easier. The important thing is to tell someone. Keep telling until you get help.

Someone touched me or forced me to touch them, and I don’t know what to do about it.

It’s not right that this happened to you, and it is not your fault. No one should touch you, or force you to touch them, in a way that is not okay, whether you know this person or

not or if this person is an adult or older kid. Don’t keep this a secret. Find someone you trust, like a parent, family member, teacher, coach, a friend’s parent or neighbor, and tell them what happened. There are people out there who can help. By law, most adult professionals (like teachers, coaches and doctors) are required to report this information to the police, so they can help to protect you and try to prevent the crime from happening again. You may be worried about getting the person who touched you or made you touch them in trouble, but remember that you have done nothing wrong and deserve to be safe. The best way to prevent this from happening again or to someone else is to talk to a trusted adult. You could talk face to face or on the phone. You could also send a text, email or letter. You could even make a drawing, if that’s easier. The important thing is to tell someone. Keep telling until you get help.

Sexual assault is any sexual behavior that happens without a person’s consent and includes rape, incest and child sexual abuse. Children may hear about sexual assault in the media. It is important that parents tell their children (regardless of their gender) that some people touch other people without their permission, and that is not okay. Having these conversations with children gives you an opportunity to explain that it is not okay for anyone to touch their genitals, breasts or buttocks, and if anyone does touch them in a way that makes them uncomfortable or shows them something that makes them uncomfortable, they should tell you right away.

Child sexual abuse, which is a form of sexual assault, is an issue we want none of our children to face, but we know that it is a reality. Child sexual abuse is sexual touching or behaviors with a minor, including oral, anal or penile-vaginal sex; exposing a young person to sexually explicit materials; or forcing a young person to touch someone else’s genitals. It often continues until the person who is being abused gets help. Sometimes, someone else—a friend or family member—recognizes the abuse and jumps in to help.

About 90 percent of children who are victims of abuse know their abusers. Only 10 percent of sexually abused children are abused by a stranger. This often makes it even scarier for a child to report the crime, which they know will get a family member or someone they know in trouble. Young people need to know that they are never at fault when they are sexually assaulted and that they should report the crime to a trusted adult as soon as possible, even if it involves someone they know.

The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network has helpful information on protecting your child from sexual abuse.

Bring up the topic of sexual assault while watching or listening to the news

When a news stories about sexual assault comes on, ask your child if they have heard about this topic before and how it made them feel. You can then reinforce with your child that no one should touch them in a way that makes them uncomfortable and they should not touch other people in a way that would make them uncomfortable. Remind your child that they can come to you if they have questions about this or if something happens that makes them feel uncomfortable.

Ask your child if you can hug or kiss them

When you want to hug or kiss your child, getting your child’s permission first is a great way to demonstrate consent. If this is not something you have done in the past, you can explain why you are asking for their consent and begin the discussion about why it is important to gain consent—especially in sexual situations.

Bring up the topic of sexual assault while watching shows or movies

When a news stories about sexual assault comes on, ask your child if they have heard about this topic before and how it made them feel. You can then reinforce with your child that no one should touch them in a way that makes them uncomfortable and they should not touch other people in a way that would make them uncomfortable. Remind your child that they can come to you if they have questions about this or if something happens that makes them feel uncomfortable.