Understanding Sexual Violence: Sexual Assault vs. Sexual Abuse

The #Metoo movement has been all over the place in recent years, from the Harvey Weinstein cases to average Janes coming forward about their abusers.

It has caused many people to become familiar with the terms of sexual abuse, assault, harassment, and rape.

However, because they have been so frequently interchanged in the media, it has understandably caused some confusion as to the correct designations of the terms. What is sexual assault vs sexual abuse?

If you are trying to figure out the difference, here are some things to go by when you watch another news bulletin about someone coming forward.


One of the most well-known and heinous actions is rape which is defined as the act of forced sexual intercourse where penetration is involved (vaginal, anal, or oral penetration). This penetration can be performed by a body part or an object.

Nearly 20 percent of women in the United States have been raped at some time in their lives, whether completed or attempted.

Men are not exempt, despite the social stigmas, which cause male rapes to often go unreported. One out of every ten rape victims are men.

Sexual Assault

Sexual assault and rape have often been used interchangeably but it’s not that simple. Sexual assault is any sexual behavior or act that threatens violent, forced, coercive, or exploitative actions against an unwilling person who hasn’t or cannot give expressed consent.

Therefore, rape falls under the umbrella term of sexual assault. Unfortunately, many people in the United States experience this in addition to the statistics of rape.

If you have experienced this recently be sure to report it to the authorities first, then contact the Dordulian Law Group.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual assault and rape toward underaged minors are considered sexual abuse. This also includes their exploitation through things like pornographic pictures and videos.

This occurs more often than people realize, as ten percent of children will experience some kind of sexual abuse by the time they turn 18. The psychological effects of these encounters of sexual abuse create worse situations for them as well.

It has been proven that sexual abuse as a child can lead to at-risk adult behaviors, such as substance abuse, crime, and even perpetrating sexual abuse.

Studies have also shown that sexual abuse has can lead to mental health issues. Women who have experienced sexual abuse are twice as likely to suffer from depression as adults.

Understanding Sexual Assault vs Sexual Abuse

In the discussion of sexual assault vs sexual abuse, the terms can often be confusing but the actions are very real. No one should have to experience such horrible acts. However, in the chance that you do make sure you report the incident.

There are many resources now that can help you receive the justice you deserve as well as help you cope with the after-effects of the experience. It shouldn’t govern your life, you’re not just a survivor, you’re a conqueror.

For other articles like this, be sure to visit the rest of our blog.

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