Signs of Sexual Assault
Sexual assault is defined as any kind of sexual activity that is unwanted, done by one person to another without consent. These acts may include coercion (being persuaded or manipulated into having sex) or acquaintance rape (being forced to have sex by someone known or familiar).
So how can you figure out if what happened was sexual assault? There are three main considerations in judging whether or not a sexual act was consensual (which means that both people are old enough to consent, have the capacity of consent and agreed to the sexual contact) or is a crime. Therefore, here are a few questions to consider:
1. Are the participants old enough to consent? In Michigan, 16 is the age of legal consent. People below this age cannot legally agree to have sex. In other words, even if the child or teenager says yes, the law says no.
Generally, “I thought they were 18” is not considered a legal excuse – it’s up to you to make sure your partner is old enough to legally take part.
2. Do both people have the capacity to consent? Those with diminished capacity – for example, some people with disabilities, some elderly people and people who are incapacitated (“passed out” possibility due to alcohol or drug use) – may not have the legal ability to agree to have sex.
3. Did both participants agree to take part? Did someone use force or coercion to make you have sexual contact with him or her? Has someone threatened you, or those you love, to make you have intercourse with them? If so, this is sexual assault.
It doesn’t matter is you think your partner means yes, or if you’ve already started having sex – “No” also means “Stop.” If you proceed despite your partner’s expressed instruction to stop, you have not only violated basic codes of morality and respect, you have committed a crime.