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Sexual Violence

Sexual Violence is verbal or physical actions which breaks a person’s trust and/or safety and is sexual in nature. The abuser seeks power by forcing participation in sexual acts through manipulation, fear, threats, force, and coercion. Sexual violence is acts of unwanted sexual activity where sex is used as a weapon. 


Examples of Sexual Violence:

  • Demeaning sexual language

  • Unwanted sexual contact (being touched or forced to touch)

  • Sexual harassment

  • Forced to pose for sexual photos, look at or watch pornography

  • Exhibitionism and voyeurism

  • Sexual assault (vaginal, oral, anal)  

  • Sexual violence can happen to anyone, at any time, at any place.  It happens to people of all ages, gender, ethnic backgrounds, sexual orientation, relationship status, economic levels, and to those with disabilities. It is never the victims fault.


Flight, Fight, or Freeze?

All of these are common during a sexual assault.  A victim may experience FLIGHT or FIGHT while being assaulted which may include physically fighting back, yelling or screaming, panic and urge to escape the situation.

However, in many circumstances, a victim will FREEZE during an assault.  One of the causes for this response is that we are not expecting an attack.  About 93% of sexual assaults are committed by a known acquaintance, friend, or family member.  Victims are not prepared for the assault, and can therefore display behavior that may not make sense.  Our brains have a way of protecting us from making harmful memories, and be “shut down” by stress chemicals during a sexual assault. 

It is important to keep in mind that just because a victim does not display the type of behavior we expect them to, does not mean that they are lying.  FLIGHT, FIGHT, FREEZE are subconscious reactions to an attack.  These actions are decided by our amygdala or “primal brain.”


SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) Exam is a forensic exam done by a trained nurse examiner.  It is important to remember that you do not need to have reported this incident to law enforcement in order to be eligible for this exam.  Prophylaxis will be administered at the time of the exam to ward off STI’s and infections.  This is a confidential exam and will not be reported to law enforcement if you are 18 and over.  

You may be eligible for funding to pay for the cost of this exam through Wisconsin’s SAFE Fund.

It is possible to heal from sexual violence.

Recovery happens over time, and each individual has their own pace. 

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