Definition: Acquaintance assault involves coercive sexual activities that occur against a person’s will by means of force, violence, duress, or fear of bodily injury. These sexual activities are imposed upon them by someone they know ( a friend, date, acquaintance, etc.).
- A prior or current relationship or previous acts of intimacy or insufficient indicators of consent.
- Verbal consent must be obtained both in each instance of sexual intimacy and as the level of sexual intimacy increases (e.g., moving from kissing to petting, from petting to oral sex, from oral sex to intercourse or anal sex, etc.).
Obstacles to Coping & Recovery
- Common social myths (e.g. the attack was incited through suggestive dress or intimate acts such as kissing)
- Fear of retaliation, subsequent harassment, future harm, harassment from family and friends of the person responsible for the assault.
- Fear of returning to a normal routine especially if the assailant is a part of the victim’s daily routine.
- Family/friends may blame the survivor or worse, they may support the assailant.
- Despite the violation and reality of physical and emotional trauma, victims of acquaintance assault often do not identify their experience as sexual assault. Instead of focusing on the violation of the sexual assault, victims often blame themselves for the assault.
Physical & Emotional Reactions
- Sleep and eating disturbances
- Mood swings
- Feelings of humiliation and self-blame
- Substance abuse
- Suicidal ideation/behavior, self harm
Because the perpetrators are known to their victims and are often someone with whom they socialize, victims of acquaintance sexual assault often have to encounter their assailants after the rape. Fear of such encounters can cause increased distress and humiliation for the victim.
This section was adapted from materials provided by the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault.