Sexual assault is a criminal sexual act, either physical or otherwise, committed by a perpetrator against a victim (usually a child) using physical, intimidation/force, or emotional manipulation. Sexual assault subjects the victim to the perpetrator's demands through use of coercion, force, manipulation or explicit/implicit threats. Sexual assault is considered criminal because the act is committed against a victim without seeking his or her consent. Sexual assaults are also considered wrong and criminal regardless of the relationship between the perpetrator and the victim or the religion, culture, sex, sexual orientation or age of the victim. In case the victim is a child, sexual assault is termed as sexual abuse. In sexual abuse an adult uses his or her position of power to satisfy their desires. As mentioned earlier, sexual assault can be with or without physical contact and it may involve anything that is sexual in nature from touching, fondling, kissing and/or penetration. Incest is another form of sexual assault. In the case of incest, the perpetrator has a direct familial relationship with the victim (maybe a brother, father, uncle or grandfather, etc.). There are many other classifications or terms used to denote different types of sexual assault including voyeurism/exhibitionism, sexual harassment, incest, sexual abuse, crime of sexual nature, sex offence, sexual contact, rape, child prostitution, and child pornography (Gouvernement du Quebec, 2016).
As mentioned above, rape is a common form of sexual assault. The legal definition of rape is sexual penetration of a female without first gaining their consent. The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) defines rape as physical penetration of the anus or vagina (no matter how slight) with either an object or any part of the body, or the penetration of the mouth by the sexual organ of the abuser, without the victim's consent (RAINN, 2009).
According to a report released by Amnesty International in 2005 there is an ambivalent attitude towards rape, with as many as thirty percent of people believing that in rape, females are often completely or partly responsible for being raped if they acted in a flirtatious manner. The same report noted that a quarter out of a thousand individuals surveyed believed that females were somewhat to blame for being raped if they were intoxicated or had worn clothes that showed a lot of skin. Most of the participants in the survey did not have any idea about the number of women raped every year in the United Kingdom (Cybulska, 2007). Thus, this report helped reveal two important things regarding rape. First, is that many people in the Western World think that rape is not common in their countries, second is that many people think that women are partly responsible for their sexual assault.
Even in cases where the perpetrator did not use physical violence, victims often still take a lot of time to heal. Obviously, the effects or severity of sexual assault are different among different victims. There are also other factors that should also be taken into account when looking at the healing process; these include the circumstances surrounding the assault and the type of assault. The effects of an assault may range from mental problems to physical health problems. The victim may also suffer from emotional difficulties. Child victims might feel betrayed by the perpetrators, especially if their abusers are close family members (people whom they trusted). The effects of sexual assault are not easy to handle, but professional help can help them deal with the consequences. If the victim is an adult, he or she should take steps to learn about the different kinds of care available to help rape victims through the healing process. There are instances when factors such as feelings of shame or guilt; fear of the reaction of parents; fear of the abuser; or even fear of retaliation might cause the victim to not speak out about an assault.
However, it should be noted that speaking out go a long way in helping one to heal his or her wounds. Thus, it is crucial for one to open up about an assault to someone of authority who can take steps to help (Gouvernement du Quebec, 2016). This is where the Sexual Assault Treatment Centre can help.
When one is sexually assaulted, he or she has 3 major care needs: psychosocial, medical and forensic (Welch, 2005). Forensic examination is done as soon as the victim reports the assault, unless there is a need for medical care to take precedence. This examination is done to collect incriminating DNA evidence. Medical needs may include: taking care of the injuries, screening for HIV or other Sexually Transmitted Infections, counseling, offering emergency prophylaxis and/or contraception. The majority of victims often need further referral to Victim Support organizations, Social Services, Law enforcement or any other organizations that might provide further help following an assault.
Question: What do you think are the needs of sexually assaulted individuals?
Interviewee's answer: Medical care; counseling and support; and lastly justice through the conviction of perpetrators, which will go a long way in the healing process of the victim (Mosugu, 2016).
There are several similarities between sexual assault and domestic violence. In the majority of domestic violence case the victims are women (about 85%) (Ministere de la Securite publique, 2000); women also form the majority of those who are sexually assaulted (about 90%) according to a 2003 report (Appalachian State University, 2016). One other similarity between sexual assault and domestic violence is the need to speak out about the issues. Regardless of the violence or assault that takes place, the victim needs to speak out about it. Many victims have been continually abused for long periods of time just because they were embarrassed, ashamed or feared the perpetrators. It is important for the victim to speak out about the problem, regardless of whether it is domestic violence or sexual abuse or he/she might end up in an unending cycle of abuse or violence. Not only the victim but also the witnesses and friends to the victim should speak out (Gouvernement du Quebec, 2016).
Section 2: Literature review
In a 2009 study, researchers looked into whether Army unit support (which reflects the quality of relationships between service members in a unit) protects servicemen and women against sexual assault or harassment during deployment. The study participants' numbered 1674 and were members of the Ohio National Guard, who had reported being deployed at least once in the last twenty years. The study was conducted using a telephone survey. The servicemen and women who were recruited for the study completed measures of psychosocial support, unit support, and sexual harassment / assault. Logistic regression analysis was utilized to find odds of sexual assault or harassment. Approximately 13.2% of the servicemen and 43.5% of the servicewomen who participated in the survey reported sexual harassment, approximately 18.8% and 1.1% of women and men respectively also reported being sexually assaulted in their most recent tour of duty. In cases where there was a higher unit support, there was a lower likelihood of sexual assault or harassment during deployment. Thus, programs aimed at improving cohesion amongst unit members have the potential to decrease sexual assaults or harassment significantly (Walsh, et al., 2015).
When the Congress passed a law to repeal the ban on women servicing in combat, many thought that there would be an increase in sexual assault or harassment within the military. Many were concerned with the issue because not many studies were or have been done to investigate ways through which sexual harassment or assault against servicewomen could be reduced during deployment. This study can be utilized to further investigate and come up with more ways through which sexual harassment and assaults can be reduced during deployment. A properly done scientific study would help in delivering assault or harassment prevention policies and programs that are more effective and that have a higher likelihood of reducing rape or harassment cases.
In another study, researchers qualitatively looked into the experiences of United States Army Servicewomen and the perceptions of how MST (Military Sexual Trauma) was reported and the associated services. From mid-2011 to early 2012, about twenty-two telephone interviews were conducted with United States servicewomen who had been deployed between the years 2002 and 2011. The data was then analyzed thematically using modified grounded theory methods. The researchers concluded that the following factors contributed to Military sexual trauma: lack of consequences for abusers; military culture and deployment dynamics. The interviewees ascribed low military sexual trauma reporting to concerns about stigma and confidentiality; and negative responses or blame from supervisors and peers. Cohesion among unit members was cited as being both a barrier and a facilitator to MST reporting. Awareness and availability to military sexual trauma services during deployment varied for different units and different tours of duty. Obstacles to seeking care were the same as those to reporting and entailed stigma and confidentiality concerns. Several avenues were…