Sexual violence is defined as a sexual act that is committed or attempted by another person without freely given consent of the victim or against someone who is unable to consent or refuse.
Examples of sexual violence include these:
1. Forced or alcohol/drug facilitated penetration of a victim;
2. Forced or alcohol/drug facilitated incidents in which the victim
was made to penetrate a perpetrator or someone else;
3. Nonphysically pressured unwanted penetration;
4. Intentional sexual touching; and
5. Non-contact acts of a sexual nature.
Sexual violence can also occur when a perpetrator forces or coerces a victim to engage in sexual acts with a third party.
What Is Consent?
Consent is a legally or functionally competent person’s use of words or overt actions to give informed approval, indicating a freely given agreement to have sexual intercourse or sexual contact.
Inability to Consent
Where a freely given agreement could not occur because of (1) the victim’s age; (2) illness; (3) mental or physical disability; (4) being asleep or unconscious; (5) being too intoxicated (voluntary or involuntary use of drugs or alcohol), there is NO CONSENT.
Inability to Refuse
Where disagreement to engage in a sexual act was precluded because of the use or possession of guns or other non-bodily weapons, or due to physical violence, threats of physical violence, intimidation or pressure, or misuse of authority, there is NO CONSENT.
The illegal business of recruiting, harboring, transporting, obtaining, or providing a person for a sexual act is not only sexual assault. Transporting for the purpose of illegal sex acts is a separate legal violation called sex trafficking. Under the Mann Act this is a federal crime.
Sexual assault carries physical, psychological, and social effects for abuse victims. Harmful effects can be long-lasting for victims, foremost; but harmful effects can be long-lasting for families of victims, families of abusers, and communities. A sexual assault victim need not have a particular pre-disposition to mental illness to experience these effects following this trauma. These are the normal effects of abnormal criminal behavior perpetrated against them. The support a victim receives following disclosure (family support & community support) directly impacts a victim’s recovery. See the CDC’s page, Sexual Violence: Consequences.
Sexual Offenders v. Sexual Predators: What’s the Difference?
The difference depends mostly on state statutes, prior convictions, and a judge’s decision. The bottom line is this: both are dangerous. Sexual offenders come in all professions, all socio-economic classes, all genders, all shapes, all sizes. Because the vast number of sexual assault cases go unreported, it is difficult to know how many offenses an abuser has committed.
Understanding Predatory Stalkers
While some sexual abusers are opportunists (abusing impulsively), others are more calculated. These abusers engage in pre-meditated, predatory behaviors. They may exhibit signs of a DSM-5 personality disorder, such as an antisocial personality. Such individuals are especially dangerous and destructive. They lack authentic empathy for their victims but will feign empathy for an audience. It is the antisocial’s contradictory conduct that reveals artificial empathy claims. The antisocial’s self-esteem is derived by power plays in dominating, controlling, manipulating, and deceiving others. Antisocials are easily bored, and often take gutsy risks with seemingly little disregard for outcomes. These callous, sadistic predators enjoy seeing victims in pain.
According to Victims of Crime: Stalking Resource Center, “A good working definition of stalking is a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear.” Stalking behaviors often escalate, becoming more serious and violent over time. Stalkers engage in behaviors to “control, track, or frighten” their victims.
Treatment for ASPD
Treatment for ASPD (antisocial personality disorder) is complicated. If you know or suspect someone close to you may have ASPD, or if someone you know discloses a report of sexual violence or stalking, it is not your duty to diagnose, question, or investigate. This is the work of highly trained field experts. Your duty is to file a report with proper law enforcement or medical personnel so that the trained field experts may investigate, diagnose, and prescribe treatment. Individuals with illness need medical intervention. If you would not diagnose or prescribe medication for a diabetic, then the same should apply to sexual offenders and predators. Expert intervention and research-based treatment are critical to protecting victims, potential victims, you, and the abuser from further harm.