Sexual Violence

Sexual Violence

What is Sexual Violence?

Sexual violence is the use of sexual actions and words that are unwanted by and/or harmful to another person. Some of these actions are defined as crimes by Minnesota statutes. Some experiences of sexual violence are hurtful violations of personal boundaries but may not rise to the level of a crime. However, that does not diminish the victim’s experience of being harmed. Sexual violence is widespread, can happen to anyone at any age, and threatens women and girls from a very young age. Sexual violence is wrong and harmful.

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Types of Sexual Violence

Unwanted, coerced and/or forced sexual penetration and/or touch is defined in Minnesota Statute as varying degrees of Criminal Sexual Conduct (CSC). CSC in the first through fourth degrees are felonies in Minnesota; fifth degree CSC is a gross misdemeanor. Penetration may be of the victim or forcing the victim to penetrate the perpetrator; penetration can be accomplished with either a body part or other object. Similarly, contact can be sexual contact with the victim or forcing a victim to touch the perpetrator.

The terms sexual assault and sexual violence are often used interchangeably, however, both terms are used to describe a wide variety of abuses. Rape is a term that is often used to describe forced penetration but forced touch is also a serious crime in Minnesota.

Unwanted, coerced and/or forced sexual penetration that occurs between people who are known to each other. This relationship may be a dating relationship, a blind date or “hook up.” They may know one another well or only briefly. The issue is not identifying who the perpetrator is; it is rather identifying how force or coercion is manifested.

When rape/sexual assault occurs between two people who have or have had a consensual sexual relationship it is understood as Intimate Partner Sexual Violence. Sometimes this is referred to as “marital rape.” Intimate partner sexual violence is often a part of relationships in which other types of violence or battering are occurring. IPSV can occur in dating relationships, marriages, or long term relationships, and is certainly unlawful regardless of previous sexual contact.

When alcohol or other drugs are used to subdue the victim in order to perpetrate a sexual attack. Many drugs have been used for this purpose – some of the more common are Rohypnol, GHB and Ketamine. However, it must be pointed out that although these drugs are used for sexual violence, alcohol remains the most common substance used to subdue victims.

Overt physical or emotional aggression is not always a part of child sexual abuse. By definition, any sexual contact with a child is illegal. Offenders who target children use a variety of strategies to engage a child: force, trickery, bribery, and blackmail. Child sexual abuse can be perpetrated by another child, a young person, or an adult.

Sexual abuse that is committed by one family member against another. Also called familial sexual abuse, incest can be committed by a parent, sibling, other family member, or an unrelated person living with, or treated as part of the family.

Stalking is defined primarily by state statute, and while statutes vary, stalking is usually understood as a pattern of conduct that places a person in fear for their safety. The term “stalking” is commonly used to describe patterns of behaviors or acts used by a person to harass, threaten, or intimidate another. The variety of behaviors displayed by stalkers is limited only by the creativity of the stalkers themselves.

Sexually graphic material that combines sex with violence, mistreatment, humiliation, or abuse. This includes the making of pornography when it involves violence, bribery and coercion, even if none is depicted. There is not agreement among those who are working to end sexual violence that pornography is automatically and by nature abusive. Expressions of sexuality in our culture are often targeted, misunderstood, and demonized. Child pornography is any sexually graphic material or any material produced for the purpose of sexual arousal that depicts children, and is always unlawful.

Paying someone else for sexual activities, or for sexually graphic materials or behaviors. Some forms of commercial sexual exploitation include: stripping, prostitution, nude bars, live sex shows, peep shows and trafficking people.

This is an organized form of sexual abuse, frequently involving numerous perpetrators and victims and used to control, condition, or “initiate” victims. This type of ritualized abuse may be repeated frequently and be perpetrated under the guise of a spiritual expression or initiation into a gang or other secret or selective group.

Unwanted verbal sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other visual, verbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment can occur in the workplace, school and other settings (such as public transportation, shopping malls, community events, social gatherings, places of worship, health care facilities) and can create an intimidating or hostile environment for the victim. The perception of the victim, not the intent of the harasser, determines whether particular words or actions are harassing.

Bullying includes a wide variety of behaviors, but all involve a person or group repeatedly trying to harm someone who is weaker or more vulnerable. Much of bullying that occurs in elementary, middle, and high schools is related to sexuality, race, and gender issues. Bullying and sexual harassment often go hand-in-hand in school environments.

Provided by MNCASA (

Sexual Assault Victim Fund

The Anoka County Sexual Violence Services Professionals Committee reviews all applications for financial assistance from the Sexual Assault Victim Fund.


Vector 3
Additional Resources

National Human Trafficking Hotline


Polaris Project

Breaking Free

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