Being sexually assaulted is never your fault. For sexual activity to be all right, it must be consensual, which means that both people want it to happen. Sexual assault is when any person forces you to participate in a sexual act when you don’t want to. Victims and perpetrators come in all genders, ages, races, social classes, and sexual orientations.
It doesn’t always take physical force to sexually assault a victim. Perpetrators of sexual violence can use threats or intimidation to make a victim feel afraid or unable to refuse them. It is also sexual assault if the victim is drunk, drugged, unconscious, too young , or mentally disabled to be legally able to agree to sexual contact.
Many victims are assaulted by someone they know: a friend, date, acquaintance, or boyfriend or girlfriend. Dating or being sexually involved with someone does not give that person the right to force you to have sexual contact you don’t want. Even if you have had sex before, you have the right to say “NO” at any time. You are also allowed to change your mind at any time.
If You Are a Victim of Sexual Assault, You Might:
- Feel afraid, ashamed, angry, sad, lonely, betrayed, or depressed.
- Feel guilty and confused if you knew or had a relationship with the attacker, even though the assault was not your fault.
- Feel like you have no friends or that your friends won’t believe you.
- Want to hurt someone else or yourself.
- Feel like taking steps to defend yourself.
- Feel helpless to stop the assault.
- Feel hopeless about whether anything can be done.
- Be afraid to go anywhere that the attacker might be.
- Feel anxious all the time.
- Feel bad about yourself or your body.
Help is just a phone call away – 24/7 Rape Crisis Helpline 1.866.828.7273
What Are Victims’ Rights?
All states and the federal government have passed laws to establish a set of victims’ rights. In general, these laws require that victims have certain information, protections, and a limited role in the criminal justice process.
Who May Exercise Victims’ Rights?
A victim is usually defined as a person who has been directly harmed by a crime that was committed by another person.
Victims Rights in Florida
In 2018, the voters of Florida passed “Marsy’s Law” which amended Article 1 Section 16(b) of the Florida Constitution to expand the rights of Crime Victims in Florida.