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  • Kimberly Lizan Lorenz

See How to Heal from Sexual Assault

Updated: May 26, 2021



Have you ever been affected by sexual assault or know someone who has? In many cases, it can be traumatizing and demeaning to those who have been affected by it. It might feel like a dark pit, but as the saying goes, “When you hit bottom, the only place to go is up.” It is possible to come out the other side and be a survivor. But what does that mean?




What is Sexual Assault Exactly?



Sexual assault is defined as: A person using:

- force,

- threats, and/or

- influence

to enact an unwanted sexual activity with another person who is not able/not willing to give informed and legal consent.


To better understand this definition, let’s look at just a few examples:

  • A person not stopping sexual activity when their partner says no is sexual assault.

  • Unwanted touching or grabbing of your body by someone else is sexual assault.

  • Engaging in sexual intercourse with someone unable to give informed and legal consent (like a minor or those with a diminished mental capacity) is sexual assault.

  • Unwanted sexual activity like oral, penetration, anal, and forced masturbation is sexual assault.


These acts can occur once or several times over the span of years; it varies from case to case. However, all of these instances share a common theme. Sexual assault is the result of a perpetrator exerting their need to obtain power and control over someone else.


It is not anything that the victim has asked for and absolutely nothing that they deserved. Any act of sexual assault was not their fault.




Who does Sexual Assault Really Affect?


In bold terms, sexual assault can affect anyone.


For example, statistics from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) show that:

- 1 in 6 men experience sexual assault in their lifetime,

- 1 in 3 women experience sexual assault in their lifetime, and that

- 12 - 34yr olds are the highest age group to experience sexual assault.




Aren’t all Perpetrators just Random Strangers?


No, anyone can be a perpetrator.


Social media, movies, and shows can make it seem that only random strangers commit these horrible acts of assault. But, unfortunately, far more often, a survivor is assaulted by someone close to them like a family member, partner, caregiver, or authority figure.


For instance, Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) reports that:

- 8 out of 10 rapes are committed by someone known to the survivor and that

- 55% of the time the assault occurs at or near the survivor’s home.




What? How can someone so close to home assault someone?


Assaults happen so close to home because perpetrators will create a close relationship with the survivor and will then use this relationship to gain power and control over them.


A perpetrator often does this by making the survivor feel extraordinarily special. They then use this “special connection” to slowly isolate the survivor from their friends and family.


Once this connection and isolation are formed, a perpetrator will use a psychological tactic called Grooming.


Grooming is where a perpetrator tests a survivor’s sexual boundaries. For example, they may use tests like these:

- throwing out sexually suggestive comments to the survivor,

- unnecessarily touching the survivor, and

- extending offers to spend time in private to the survivor.


After testing, the perpetrator gauges the survivor’s reaction. They watch to see whether the survivor physically and/or verbally discourages their actions or if the survivor tolerates or ignores their actions.


After forming a close relationship with the survivor and isolating them from their friends and family, a perpetrator uses this process of Grooming, of pushing and pushing against the survivor’s personal and sexual boundaries, to fully exploit their trust and sexual assault them.




After an Assault, What Can I Do?


At the time immediately or a few days after a sexual assault there are a few things that can be done. As always, you can call the police to make a report of the assault. Another option that you can do is to get a SANE Exam.



WHAT’S A SANE EXAM?


A SANE exam is a Sexual Assault Nurse’s Examination. It’s where a trained and skilled nurse or doctor collects all forensic evidence from the survivor’s body and performs both an external and internal medical exam of the survivor’s body.


The SANE staff then place the collected evidence into a sexual assault kit. This kit is stored and saved until the survivor wants to have it evaluated by a crime lab. The SANE staff also record the survivor’s account of the assault. Making this record allows the medical staff to testify at any future legal proceedings.



YOU DON’T HAVE TO GO THROUGH A SANE EXAM ALONE


To be honest, the SANE exam can be overwhelming, especially when you’re in the emotional and physical aftermath of sexual assault. But don’t worry. You don’t have to go through it alone.


All you have to do is call.


If you live in Rock or Green County Wisconsin, all you have to do is call our fellow organization, Sexual Assault Recovery Program (SARP):


SARP

24 Hour Crisis Hotline: 1(866) 666-4576