Explore By Topic: Sexual Violence

Discussing sexual violence can bring up challenging emotions in victims, but our voices and platforms can contribute positively by avoiding narratives that blame or question victims, minimizing graphic details of violent acts, and portraying survivors in empowering, realistic, and hopeful ways.

Need to Know

Sexual violence includes a range of actions, from unwanted sexual comments and advances to rape and sexual assault.

Consent is a freely given, reversible, informed, enthusiastic, and specific agreement to engage in sexual activity. Without consent, any sexual activity is considered sexual violence.

Sexual violence is about power and control, and it can leave lasting trauma on survivors.

Survivors of sexual violence may experience a range of emotions, including fear, shame, guilt, and confusion. Those reactions are normal, and there is no “right” way to feel after such an experience.

The effects of sexual violence can include PTSD, depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues.

Treatment and support for survivors can include trauma-informed therapy, support groups, and medical care.

Things to Avoid

Avoid graphic descriptions of sexual violence, which can be triggering for survivors.

Never blame survivors for the violence perpetrated against them.

Refrain from discussing a victim’s attire or actions in a way that might suggest a connection between their choices and the violence they experienced.

Avoid commentary on celebrity cases in the absence of facts.

Don’t disclose details of someone else’s experience without their explicit consent.

Resist the urge to offer simple solutions or tell survivors how they should heal. Recovery is a personal journey.

Refrain from making assumptions about the perpetrator or survivor based on stereotypes or biases.

Your Opportunity

Encourage a culture of believing and supporting survivors by sharing messages that validate their experiences.

Portray the reporting of violence and seeking help in effective, realistic ways.

Highlight the importance of consent and educate your audience on what constitutes consent.

Use your platform to amplify the voices of survivors, advocacy organizations, and campaigns that are working to end sexual violence.

Share resources and tools that can help survivors and their loved ones find support and navigate the healing process.

Promote events like Sexual Assault Awareness Month to increase awareness and educate your audience about the issue.


RAINN.org →

Visit RAINN.org to learn more about sexual violence, consent, how to support survivors, and resources for getting help.

National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline →

Contact the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline 24/7 at 800-656-HOPE (4673).

Dial 988 Hotline →

Dial 988 or text HOME to 741-741 for a free, confidential conversation with a trained counselor 24/7.