Sexual Assault: The Conversation Part 1
September 13, 2021
The legal definition of sexual assault is any form of sexual activity with another person without their consent. However, sexual assault as I defined it is assault of a sexual nature that violates the sexual integrity of the victim. By this definition, sexual assault can occur without physical contact of the victim. Everyone should have absolute sovereignty over their bodies.
Sexual assault is commonly experienced in the lives of women and girls. In the last four weeks, I conducted a small research study with 30 women from the ages of 19 to 54 years old. These women were relatively well known to me and they all know my role at Dr. Roz’s Healing Place, a centre for abused women and children.
The Ontario Women’s Directorate reported that 1 in 3 women will experience some sort of abuse or assault in their life time. I believe that this report was based on reported incidences but how many women or girls do not report their traumatic experiences with sexual assault?
As a feminist therapist, my clients often say in sessions with me that I am the only one that they have shared their traumatic experiences with. Incidents of sexual assault are not easy to report or share.
I wanted to assess this reality because I believe that incidences are higher than what is documented. So I made some random calls to thirty women over a period of four weeks.
I asked each individual three direct questions causing all respondents to pause and show discomfort. The quick response was “Why?” After answering and providing explanations, all agreed to answer with somewhat different definitions but all concluded that actions of individuals violated their sexual integrity.
The questions asked were:
What is sexual assault?
Have you ever experienced some form of sexual assault in your life time?
Have you ever reported the assault to the police?
Sadly, most respondents had experienced some form of abuse or assault in their life time and none had ever reported anything to police.
Most of the respondents said that they almost never shared their experiences with anyone and definitely not with the police.
Six respondents said that they have made attempts to share but often in the third person.
Four women said that they have shared with a friend .
Many said that they just moved on and will not share.
But can women really move on, and how easy or difficult is that move?
Let’s continue this conversation!
I may want to revisit the same sample of women and explore the question of “How does someone move on from the trauma of sexual assault or abuse?”