Any kind of sexual behaviors or touching another person’s breasts, genitals or buttocks without that person’s permission (also known as consent) is sexual assault. The age at which someone can consent to sex varies from state to state, but no one who is under 16 can legally consent to sex in any state.
Sexual assault includes forcing or pressuring a person to have sexual intercourse (rape), having sexual intercourse or engaging in other sexual behaviors with a parent, child, sibling, grandchild or other close family member (incest) or any sexual behavior between an adult and a young person who is too young to agree to this behavior (child molestation or sexual abuse). Sexual assault can happen to anyone, and it is illegal. Sexual assault is a lot more common than we think, and it’s never okay, even if the person committing the assault is someone a person knows or a relative.
It is important to remember that sexual assault is never the fault of the person being assaulted or abused, even if the person doing the assaulting or touching says it’s the young person’s fault. What a person was wearing or if they had been using drugs or alcohol does not make sexual assault the fault of the person who is assaulted. Sexual assault, regardless of the situation, is never okay. Sometimes a person may feel like sexual assault is their fault because the touching felt good, but sexual assault is never the young person’s fault.
If you or someone you know was touched in a way that was not okay or if you were forced to touch someone else in a way that makes you uncomfortable, don’t keep it a secret. Even if the person who did this is an adult or an older kid who told you not to tell anyone, you should tell someone. Tell someone you trust—like a parent, family member, teacher, friend’s parent or neighbor. If the first person you tell doesn’t do anything, tell someone else you trust. Keep telling adults you trust until you get help.