“How does someone know when sexual assault has occurred and what should they do if it occurs?”
Sexual assault is present any time a sexual act takes place that involves force, the threat of force, coercion or lack of consent. Feeling physical or emotional powerlessness are good indicators that you are in that situation. This also includes voyeurism and pornography. Just being placed in a situation where you fear that an act of sexual assault will take place can be considered a crime. The intent during sexual assault is almost always violence, not desire. As long as there is no verbal consent, it is considered assault. Both partners need to agree to the sexual act.
Sexual assault is a broader definition than rape because rape can be different depending on the state. In Oregon, rape is any unwanted sexual intercourse with any amount of penetration. Most sexual assault cases happen with someone that the victim knows. Also, most assaults could be stopped if the victim simply screamed for help.
When either rape or sexual assault occurs, do not clean up at all. Don’t wash, change your clothes, brush your teeth or tidy up where the incident took place. If you decide to, report it to law enforcement first. Call 9-1-1 if you are injured. The sooner you get it reported the more available evidence there will be. The next step is to get medical attention at immediate care or the E.R. right after calling the police.
After receiving medical help, when you are ready it is important that you receive counseling. All of these are of course optional but highly recommended. Reporting the assault could prevent it from happening to another person. What is important is your safety and the safety of those around you.