About Sexual Violence

Q: What is sexual violence?

Sexual violence is a broad term regarding any sexual activity where consent is not given or obtained. Any time a person is coerced, manipulated, or forced to do a sexual activity, sexual violence has occurred. Coercion and manipulation occur when someone is made to do something against his/her will by physically or verbally threatening. Coercion also occurs if someone pressures another person into engaging in a sexual activity. The following are some forms of sexual violence: rape, sexual assault, incest, sexual harassment, inappropriate sexual content, threats, exposure, stalking, and peeping.

Sexual violence and sexual assault are violent crimes that involve power, aggression, and control. Rape and sexual assault are never the survivor’s fault. Sexual assault can happen anywhere, at any time of day, to anyone, regardless of age, class, ethnicity, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, or gender.

For more information on forms of sexual assault, click here to view STSM’s additional information page.

For more information, or if you think you have been assaulted, please contact STSM during normal business hours at (803) 790-8208 or on our 24 hour crisis hotline at (803) 771-7273. 

Q: What is the difference between sexual assault and rape?

Although these words are sometimes used interchangeably, sexual assault is unwanted sexual contact such as touching or molestation whereas rape is unwanted penetration (anally, orally, or vaginally). Regardless of the word used, this is a violent crime.

For more information on legal definitions, click here to view STSM’s Legal Advocacy page.

If you or someone you know is a survivor of a sexual assault, contact STSM at (803) 790-8208 or our 24 hour crisis hotline at (803) 771-7273.

Q: What is child sexual abuse?

Child sexual abuse (or child molestation) is a break of trust and boundary between a child and an adult or older adolescent where the child is used as a sexual stimulate. Forms of child sexual abuse include engaging in sexual activity, inappropriate touching, exposure, or exposing children to pornographic material. Child sexual abuse has long term effects on the child such as survivor flashbacks and low self-esteem. Children often receive education about stranger danger, but unfortunately, 90% of survivors of child sexual abuse know their abuser. 

To learn more about child sexual abuse, click here for a STSM blog post on child sexual abuse.

If you or someone you know is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, click here to learn more about how STSM can help adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse.

Q: What is elder sexual abuse?

Elder sexual abuse is when a person over the age of 60 does not give consent to sexual contact. Any time a person is persuaded, manipulated, or forced to do a sexual activity, sexual violence has occurred. In 2009, 11% of elders reported to experiencing at last one form of elder abuse: sexual, financial, emotional, or physical according to the National Institute of Justice. The NIJ also reports that “the risk of elder mistreatment is higher for individuals with the following characteristics: low household income, unemployed or retired, reporting poor health, having experienced a prior traumatic event or reporting low levels of social support,”.

Elder sexual abuse mostly occurs in the home of the elder. Abusers are often relatives of the elder such as a child, grandchild, niece/nephew. Another common place for elder sexual abuse to occur is in nursing or assisted living homes. In this situation abusers are commonly staff members of the living homes or residents of the nursing home assaulting other residents of the nursing home.

For more information on ending elder sexual abuse in our community, click here to view a STSM blog post on elder sexual abuse.

If you or someone you know is a survivor of elder abuse, contact STSM at (803) 790-8208 or our 24 hour crisis hotline at (803) 771-7273.

Q: What is incest?

Incest is intimate sexual contact between relatives. Incest most commonly takes the form of an older relative abusing a child or adolescent. Because incest generally occurs between a child and an older family member, the long term effects of the abuse are great. Incest is rarely reported due to the survivor’s relationship with the abuser. The child may have trouble developing healthy, trusting relationships in the future without counseling provided by licensed professionals. In addition, incest can be damaging to the survivor due to the noninterference of the non-abusing parent. Non-abusing parents may not put an end to the abuse due to a number of reasons, but the non-action further isolates the child.

Incest between a relative and child denies the child of basic security within their home.

For more information regarding incest, click here to view a STSM blog post on incest and child sexual abuse.

If you or someone you know is a survivor of incest, contact STSM at (803) 790-8208 or our 24 hour crisis hotline at (803) 771-7273.

Q: What is marital rape?

Marital rape is when consent is not given between spouses or partners. This is a form of intimate partner violence which is a broad term regarding any sexual, emotional or physical violence between a current or former partner or spouse. Marital rape is illegal in South Carolina. Survivors of martial rape face a higher likelihood of repeated assaults as well as pressure to stay with their assailant. According to RAINN, assailants often use oral and anal rape to humiliate their partner in an attempt to gain complete control.  Furthermore, children in the home often see the sexual abuse and are traumatized as well.

For more information on marital rape, click here to view a STSM blog post on martial rape.

If you or someone you know is a victim of marital rape, contact STSM at (803) 790-8208 or our 24 hour crisis hotline at (803) 771-7273.

Q: Why would someone sexually assault someone else?

Sexual assault does not happen because of uncontrollable desire. By making the issue about sex and not about violence, this crime seems more acceptable and less severe. This mentality leads us to blame the victim and not hold the rapist accountable for his or her actions.  Sexual assault is not simply a crime of passion where the perpetrator loses control. Sexual assault is about power and control. The perpetrator exerts his or her power over the victim in such a way to take away any control the victim has in the sexual situation.

Q: Can men and boys be sexually assaulted?

Yes. Men and boys can be sexually assaulted. In the United States, 1 in 33 men report to be survivors of a sexual assault. All forms of rape are greatly under reported in the United States and this holds true for male rape where underreporting is quite high. This is due to fear, trauma, or a public taboo on male rape. Both men and women can be assailants against men in male rape. Most sexual assaults to men are perpetrated by other males; however male rape has nothing to do with the sexuality of the offender or the victim. Just like rape of women, male sexual assault is motivated by the perpetrator’s need to control, humiliate, and harm.

For more information on male rape, click here to view a STSM post on male rape.

If you or someone you know is a survivor of male rape, contact STSM at (803) 790-8208 or our 24 hour crisis hotline at (803) 771-7273.

Q: Does it matter what the survivor was wearing when the attack happened?

No. Sexual assault has nothing to do with what you were wearing during the attack. The only person responsible for a sexual assault is the assailant. You always have to right to choose with whom, when, and if you have sex. Sex without consent is rape, regardless of what someone may wear leading up to the attack. 

Q: Where can I get more information on rape and sexual assault?

More information regarding rape and sexual assault can be found on our website under Statistics. To access this page, click here.

Q: What are some myths and facts about sexual assault?

Myth: Sexual assault is rare and affects very few people.
Fact: Every two minutes, someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted, and 60% of sexual assaults are unreported to the police.(RAINN)

Myth: Only women and gay men get raped.
Fact: 1 in 6 men will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. The vast majority of male rape victims, as well as their rapists, are heterosexual.

Myth: Rapists are strangers who hide out in dark alleys, waiting to pounce on their victims.
Fact: 67% of sexual assaults are committed by someone known to the victim. (RAINN)

Myth: You can spot a rapist by the way he looks.
Fact: Rapists are not physically identifiable. They may appear friendly, normal, and non-threatening. Many are young, married and have children.

Myth: Only certain types of women get raped.
Fact: One in four college women report surviving rape (15 percent) or attempted rape (12 percent) since their fourteenth birthday. (oneinfourusa.org) 80% of sexual assault victims are under the age of 30. (RAINN)

For more information, please visit our Myths and Facts About Sexual Assault page.