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Sexual Violence & Abuse

What is sexual harassment?
What is sexual assault? 

Sexual harassment is any type of inappropriate or uncomfortable verbal or physical sexual attention from another person. Sexual harassment is not flirting. Remember, flirting should feel good, make you feel complimented, and most importantly, is wanted. Sexual harassment would make you feel bad, makes you feel powerless or small, and is unwanted. 

Sexual assault is when someone touches you or makes you touch them against your consent. Both of these types of inappropriate sexual behaviors can get someone in trouble with the law. Sexual harassment is considered a civil violation, whereas sexual assault is usually a criminal one. Below are some examples of sexual harassment and assault:  

Sexual harrassment
  • Making comments about someone’s body in a sexual or inappropriate way 

  • Sending someone unwanted sexual pictures 

  • Requesting sexual acts from someone when it is not welcome 

  • Talking about your sex life with others when you don’t want it to be shared 

  • Spreading sexual rumors 

Sexual assault
  • Touching someone’s body sexually without their consent 

  • Making someone do sexual acts like oral sex or penetrative sex without their consent  

  • Attempted rape 

Sexual harassment and assault can happen anywhere. It is normal to feel distressed or experience anxiety and depression. If you are concerned you’ve experienced sexual harassment or assault, know that it is not your fault. It is important to know who you can report harassment or assault to, and to find someone you can trust to talk about what has happened. Do not be afraid to reach out for support. Especially if you have experienced sexual assault, you should consider going to the hospital as soon as possible after this occurs so that a doctor or nurse can treat any injuries you have or address any harms to your health. 

The trauma of a sexual harassment and assault may be difficult to deal with and the most important thing is to do what is best for you – emotionally and physically. Remember that experiencing sexual violence is never your fault.

Ways to ensure both partners feel safe:

  • Communication with your partner is key (this may sound cliché, but it is true)

  • Respect each other's boundaries

  • Always ask for your partner's consent (no matter how long you've been together for)

  • Be accountable and follow through with any promises you make to your partner

  • Actively listen to your partner

  • Be aware of your non-verbal communication (body language for example)

  • Don't get defensive when you and your partner disagree about something

  • Consider relationship therapy if there is something you can't resolve between you and your partner


Remember that experiencing sexual violence is NEVER your fault. 

RAINN Hotline | Hotline:1-800-656-4673

The nation's largest sexual assault hotline, which you can call for support 24/7.

TurnAround | Crisis Call Line: 443-279-0379 | Crisis Text Line: 410-498-5956 

Serves survivors of sexual assault and intimate partner violence in Baltimore, offering counseling services, legal counseling, and a crisis call and text line. 

NSVRC (National Sexual Violence Resource Center)

Resources on experiencing and recovering from sexual violence for survivors, community members, and educators.

House of Ruth Maryland

Immediate support for survivors of sexual violence and abuse through hotlines, emergency shelters, legal assistance, and counseling options. 

If the situation is not time sensitive, you can make an appointment with a Violet healthcare provider and we can help connect you to resources. 

Related pages: 

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