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Sexual Assault

KCAVP defines sexual assault as any sexual contact made without a person's consent or permission, either by someone that person knows or by a stranger. These are criminal acts of power and control expressed through sexual aggression. Offenders are motivated by their feelings of anger, hatred and hostility - and, in response, they commit sexual violence to manipulate, humiliate and degrade their victims.

A person cannot legally give their consent for sexual activity if he or she:

  • Is overcome by fear and/or is being physically forced.
  • Is incapable because of mental deficiency or disease.
  • Is under the influence of drugs, alcohol and/or is unconscious. Is under the age of 16 in the state of Kansas or under the age of 14 in Missouri.
  • Sexual offenders choose their victims without regard to age, race, socioeconomic status, physical appearance or reputation. Though women are often considered at greater risk to become victims of sexual assault, it is important to recognize that both men and women commit sexual violence against both men and women.

Sexual assault also occurs in same-gender relationships. In fact, sexual assault happens in every part of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. Neither sexual orientation nor the offender's gender changes the fact that rape and sexual assault are violent crimes.

Recognizing Sexual Assault

Sexual assault and rape are traumatic experiences that can be followed by physical pain and injury as well as strong emotional reactions. Here are some common reactions and behaviors that can help recognize whether you, a partner, a family member or, perhaps, a friend is a victim of sexual violence:

Physical Changes
Swings in appetite, overeating, not eating properly or feeling dirty.

Increased Depression or Anxiety
Feeling down, jittery or on edge, snapping at others.

Increased Fear and Isolation
Avoiding crowds, not leaving home, feeling frightened that the attacker will return or that the crime will happen again.

Feeling personally and politically violated, having thoughts of revenge.

Guilt, Shame or Embarrassment
Self blame, feeling responsible for the crime, that it could have been prevented, wanting to keep it inside and not tell anyone.

Flashbacks or Nightmares
Recurring memories of the crime.

Feeling unsure about what happened, minimizing or dismissing it.

Changes in Sexual Activity
Decreased interest in sex, increased participation in unsafe or dangerous sex, physical difficulty having sex.

Isolation and Betrayal
Feeling alone, separate, disconnected or distant from partners, friends and family.

In addition, partners, family members and close friends of sexual assault victims who are aware of what happened can experience some of these reactions and behaviors.

Doing Something About Sexual Assault

Crimes of sexual violence go largely unreported, which makes their victims sometimes difficult to identify. Survivors often choose silence in an attempt to forget the assault altogether or to escape the shame and embarrassment that accompanies sexual violence. Silent or not, sexual assault victims are neighbors, co-workers, friends and family members - and each person has a role to play in recognizing and preventing these crimes.

If you or someone you know is a victim of sexual assault, here are some things you can do. Contact KCAVP for more information, if you have questions or need help.

Get Medical Attention Immediately
Injury, HIV infection, STDs or other complications can occur as a result of rape and sexual assault. Getting early treatment, including medications, can lessen risk and speed recovery.

Preserve Your Rights
While it is normal to want to feel clean after a rape or sexual assault, KCAVP does not recommend taking a bath or shower until after you have received medical attention and evidence has been gathered. Keep your clothes and do not wash them. Preserving any physical evidence will be critical If you decide to file charges against your attacker.

Laws regarding sexual assault can be very confusing, especially if the attacker is the same gender. KCAVP can help victims and their loved ones understand these laws. In addition, KCAVP is committed to assisting LGBT victims of sexual assault regardless of what the current legal definitions are.

If you are a member of the LGBT community in Kansas City who has been sexually assaulted - or if you are the partner, friend or family member of a victim - call KCAVP at 816-561-0550 to talk with someone who understands and can help.