Sexual Assault can happen to anyone, anywhere, at any time.  Sexual Assault has no age, gender, disability, or socioeconomic boundaries.  The following descriptions are types of sexual assault.  Every victim’s experience is different and unique.  If you would like to call and talk with a staff member about your experience, we can provide free counseling and advocacy.  Call Central MN Sexual Assault Center for services at 320-251-4357.


  • Possible Warning Signs

These warning signs can mean a number of different things.  They do not necessarily mean that a child is being sexually abused.  If you are concerned about the behavior your child is exhibiting, please seek professional help.

  1. Older children may exhibit these signs: Depression, withdrawal, poor self-image, chemical abuse, running away or aversion toward going home, recurrent physical complaints such as infections, cramping or abdominal pains, muscle aches, dizziness, gagging or severe headaches; self harm such as cutting, burning, or tattooing; suicidal thoughts/attempts; truancy; change in school performance; overtly seductive behavior/promiscuity/prostitution; eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, sudden weight gain and loss; limited social life; attention seeking or delinquent behavior.
  2. Young children may exhibit these signs:  Nightmares and other sleeping disturbances; bed wetting excessively; fecal soiling; excessive masturbation; clinging/whining; regression to more infantile behavior; explicit knowledge of a sexual nature, behavior or language that is unusual for their age; withdrawal; frequent genital infections; unexplained gagging; agitation/hyperactivity/irritability/aggressiveness; loss of appetite.

More information in these informational packets:

  1. Parents of  Children  12 and Under View
  2. Parents of Adolescents View

Acquaintance/Date Rape

Date or acquaintance rape is a sexual assault committed by a person known to the victim.  The assailant could be a friend, a relative, a date, an employer, or a recent acquaintance.

Regardless of the circumstances surrounding the incident (such as drug or alcohol use), rape is a crime of violence that is punishable by law.

Date/Acquaintance rape is one of the most under-reported violence criminal acts because many survivors do not realize that they’ve been sexually assaulted.  Anytime a person forces, coerces, or manipulates another person to engage in sexual activity against their will or without their consent, that is sexual assault.  Sexual assault is not sex.  The perpetrator is motivated by a need to feel powerful by controlling, dominating, or humiliating another person.

Date/acquaintance rape is a problem in all communities. Anyone can be sexually assaulted regardless of their race, culture, gender, sexual orientation, abilities, or age.

More information in these informational packets:

Stranger Assault

Stranger sexual assault is usually a one-incident occurrence of sexual assault.  It is someone you have never met before, with whom you do not share any experiences or history.  When the assault happens, there can be no doubt as to what is happening: that it is sexual assault.

Stranger sexual assault is a sexual act of violence outside of the victims normal relationships.  Stranger sexual assault almost always involves a certain degree of physical violence.

If you have been a victim of a stranger assault, it is important that you consider reporting to law enforcement.  Offenders that attack someone that they do not know are often more violent and tend to be repeat offenders.


Incest is sexual contact between persons who are so closely related that their marriage is illegal (e.g., parents and children, uncles/aunts and nieces/nephews, etc.). This usually takes the form of an older family member sexually abusing a child or adolescent.

If you have been a victim of incest or are currently a victim of incest, please talk to someone about what you are experiencing, get help.

More information in these informational packets:

Intimate Partner Sexual Assault


In marital or intimate partner sexual assault, it is an assault that is a physical and sexual violation but also a betrayal of trust.  The offender is a person whom you thought you knew intimately, with whom you share a history, a home, and quite often children.  The offender is a person whom you have made love to on a frequent basis often over many years, with whom you have shared your most intimate secrets and fears, and whom you believe to love you, want the best for you, who would never intentionally hurt you.  

Marital or intimate partner sexual assault is so destructive because it betrays the fundamental basis of the marital relationship, because it questions every understanding you have not only of your partner and your marriage, but of yourself.  You end up feeling betrayed, humiliated, and above all, very confused.  Many men/women who are victims of marital or intimate partner sexual assault have great difficulty in defining it as such.  The traditional idea that it is impossible for a man to rape his wife/intimate partner and that somehow, in taking our marriage vows we have abdicated any say over our own body and sexuality, basically denies women the right to say “NO,” is still prevalent among married women as much as among men.  A wife/partner being sexually assaulted will often question his/her right to refuse intercourse with her husband/partner, and while she/he may realize that legally it constitutes rape, there are many reasons which may prevent him/ her from perceiving it in such a light.

If you are a victim of intimate partner violence, please also see the section on safety planning for information on how to get safely out of the relationship.  If you would like to report the sexual assault, see the section on Legal/Reporting Information.  Also, see the section on informational packets and click on Woman’s Packet to get more information on sexual assault.

Same Gender Assault

Same gender assault is when a sexual assault occurs and the victim and the perpetrator are of the same gender.  This does not necessarily mean that they identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender (GLBT), however, same sex sexual assault does occur in the GLBT community.

Same gender sexual assault is often referred to as “homosexual rape.”  This is not very accurate as many sexual assaults involve non-consensual acts other than “rape,” and because the perpetrators of this form of sexual violence are not always homosexual.

The vast majority of same-sex assaults are committed during dating situations or as a part of a pattern of domestic abuse in same-sex relationships.

Gay men and Lesbian women who are victims of same gender sexual assaults may find it hard to come forward because they fear they will lose their jobs, family, friends, and housing when people find out they are GLBT.  Conversely, if the victim of a same gender sexual assault identifies as heterosexual they may be afraid to report for fear they will be thought of as gay or lesbian.

Sexual Harassment/Stalking

  1. Sexual harassment is when someone: touches you or asks you to touch them in private parts even if it is over the clothing; shows you sexual pictures or objects that make you feel uncomfortable; talks about sexual things or tells you dirty jokes; makes you feel uncomfortable at school, work, or at play; doesn’t stop when you ask them to.  If you are having trouble with an individual sexually harassing you, there may be zero tolerance policies about sexual harassment at your school, workplace, or church.  Talk to a trusted friend, adult, or co-worker about what you have experienced and get help.  You may also call Central MN Sexual Assault Center and talk to one of the trained advocates at 320-251-4357.
  2. Stalking is defined as a course of conduct directed at a specific person that places a reasonable person in fear for her or his safety.  It is against the law in every state.  Stalking across state lines or in federal territories is illegal under federal law as well.  Help is available, if you or someone you know is being stalked, call and set-up a time to meet with Central MN Sexual Assault Center at 320-251-4357 for safety planning resources or call 1-800-394-2255 for assistance.

Sexual Exploitaion By Professionals

(From: Sexual Exploitation of Clients by Therapists: Parallels with Parent/Child Incest by Ellen Luepker)

Client victims of therapist/professional sexual abuse does happen.  As a step toward understanding client sexual exploitation, it can be useful to compare it with the better understood phenomenon of parent/child incest.  The parallels include: a power imbalance between client/therapist or other professional, diminished capacity to make decisions in one’s own best interest, discomfort with sexual feelings, sex as role reversal which occurs in context of other role reversals, sex among other power abusers, secrecy and isolation, high likelihood the story is true, mixed feelings about the experience, developmental fixation and continuing trauma, associates’ silence implies consent, response by others when perpetrator is well-regarded, betrayal when associates don’t act, need for outsiders to break up enmeshment.

Sexual exploitation by professionals is illegal.  Please call Central MN Sexual Assault Center for more information on how to report abuse or get help with recovering from sexual abuse at 320-251-4357.


(by, Evelina Giobbe, Women Hurt in Systems of Prostitution Engaged in Revolt)

Prostitution is generally thought of as employment when, in actuality, it is ownership of and unconditional sexual access to women.  A woman’s choice to engage in prostitution happens within a social context which condones sexual objectification of women.  Culturally supported tactics of power and control facilitate the recruitment or coercion of women and children into prostitution and effectively impede their escape.  By maintaining a society in which women are kept economically marginalized, the system of male supremacy ensures that a pool of women will be vulnerable to recruitment and entrapment into prostitution.  Prostitution is sexual abuse because prostitutes are subjected to any number of sexual acts that in any other context, acted against any other woman, would be labeled assault, or, at the very least, unwanted and coerced.

Drug – Facilitated Sexual Assault

(from Staff at the Sexual Violence Justice Institute)

Just as it is against the law to slip someone a drug to facilitate a sexual assault, it is also considered sexual assault if the victim/survivor knowingly and voluntarily ingests drugs or alcohol.  Performing any sexual act(s) on a person who is unconscious or asleep, too drunk to withhold consent, or unable to communicate is against the law.

The victim usually blacks out, and has no memory of the assault or the events surrounding the assault.  The drugs that are commonly slipped to the victim/survivors are eliminated quickly from the body, leaving no evidence that the drug was in the victim/survivor’s system, thus making it difficult to prove lack of consent.  This factor, along with loss of memory, often works against the investigation of Drug Facilitated Sexual Assaults.

Most local law enforcement and prosecution will not prosecute for minor consumption or recreational drug use if a sexual assault happens as a result of the use of such chemicals.

The first urine void is vital because it may be the only evidence to show that the victim/survivor was drugged.  If a victim cannot wait to urinate until they get to an emergency room, it is important to urinate in a jar and bring that with to the emergency room.

Remember alcohol is still the most commonly used drug to facilitate sexual assault.

Indecent Exposure, Peeping, Hidden Cameras

(from, Steve Sawyer, Project Pathfinder)

These are all forms of sexual violence.  Victims/survivors can experience the same short and long-term effects as victims/survivors of other sexual violence.  The offenders of these crimes come from all different backgrounds and environments.  The offender may have a long history of incidences of inappropriate behavior or it may be an isolated incident.  Any of these actions are crimes and it is important to report them to local law enforcement.

Gang Rape

(By, Dresden Jones, MNCASA)

Although gang rape is commonly used to describe this type of sexual violence, it rarely has anything to do with organized street gangs.  Sexual violence by multiple perpetrators can involve more physical harm and verbal insults to the victim than other types of sexual violence.  Group dynamics dictate this type of sexual assault; there is always a leader and at least one reluctant participant.  Victim/survivors of sexual violence by multiple perpetrators are usually isolated and seeking friendship, or vulnerable in other ways.  Responses and reactions to this type of sexual violence are similar to those in other cases but may be compounded due to there being more than one offender.

Child Pornography

(By, Lindsey Gullengsrud, MNCASA)

Child pornography is defined as material that is either made using children, or through the use of modern technology, is made to appear that children are being used.  Child pornography does not have to involve obscene behavior, but may include sexually explicit conduct that is suggestive.  Production, trading, and possession of child pornography in the United States is illegal; Also, images from the Internet do not have to be saved for an offense to have occurred-they only need to have been accessed.

Sexual Violence and The Internet

(By Karla Nelson, MNCASA)

It is important for children to understand how to use the internet safely and what to do if they experience something that makes them uncomfortable.  It is also important for adults to know safety tips and how to respond if they have an experience they are not comfortable with.  Perpetrators can use the internet as a means to lure their victims.

Three of the most important safety tips for children are: never give out identifying information; tell a parent, guardian or teacher right away; never arrange a face to face meeting without telling a parent or guardian.

Remember that the person you are communicating with online may not be who they say that they are.

Female Genital Mutilation

(By Dresden Jones, MNCASA)

Female genital mutilation occurs in multiple countries.  Experiencing Female Genital Mutilation is painful and traumatic, both short and long-term.  Female Genital Mutilation is sometimes practiced as part of a religion but not in all cases.  Female genital mutilation is a harmful, oppressive practice.  The most common type of Female Genital Mutilation is the removal of the clitoris and the labia minora.

Sexual Violence Within Prisons


Prisoner rape for male and female inmates can vary between each institution.  A recent study in four Midwest states found that approximately one in 10 male inmates had reported being sexually assaulted.  Approximately one in five male inmates reported a coerced or forced act of sexual violence.  In one institution, 27 percent of female inmates reported a coerced or forced act of sexual violence.  In another institution, seven percent of females reported sexual violence.

Sexual violence runs an even higher risk of becoming deadly in prison due to rates of HIV being five to ten times higher inside of prison versus outside.  It is known that sexual violence is an act of power and this becomes clear within prisons.  Victim/survivors fear retaliation from those who hurt them.  Many times if it is a staff person who attacked him/her, that victim/survivor may feel that no one would believe them.  Society may sometimes perpetuate the belief that inmates “get what they deserve.”  It is important that victim/survivors of sexual violence within prisons know that no one deserves to be sexually assaulted.