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Sexual Assault

Sexual violence happens in every community.

About Sexual Assault

Sexual violence happens in every community and affects people of all genders and ages. Sexual violence is any type of unwanted sexual contact. This includes words and actions of a sexual nature against a person’s will and without their consent. A person may use force, threats, manipulation, or coercion to commit sexual violence.

Forms of sexual violence include:

• Rape or sexual assault
• Child sexual assault and incest
• Sexual assault by a person’s spouse or partner
• Unwanted sexual contact/touching
• Sexual harassment
• Sexual exploitation and trafficking
• Exposing one’s genitals or naked body to other(s) without consent
• Masturbating in public
• Watching someone engage in private acts without their knowledge or permission
• Nonconsensual image sharing

What is consent?

Consent must be freely given and informed, and a person can change their mind at any time.
Consent is more than a yes or no. It is a dialogue about desires, needs, and level of comfort with different sexual interactions.

Who does sexual violence impact?

Victims of sexual violence include people of all ages, races, genders, and religions — with and without disabilities.
• Nearly one in five women in the United States have experienced rape or attempted rape some time in their lives.
• In the United States, one in 71 men have experienced rape or attempted rape.

Victims often know the person who sexually assaulted them.

People who sexually abuse usually target someone they know.
• Nearly three out of four adolescents who have been sexually assaulted were victimized by someone they knew well.
• One-fifth were committed by a family member.

Victims are Never at Fault

Violating another person is a choice.

Choosing to violate another person is not about “drinking too much,” “trying to have a good time,” or ”getting carried away,” nor is it about the clothes someone was wearing, how they were acting, or what type of relationship they have with the person who abused them. Violating another person is a choice.

Rape is often not reported or convicted.

A person may choose not to report to law enforcement or tell anyone about a victimization they experienced for many reasons. Some of the most common include:
• a fear of not being believed
• being afraid of retaliation
• shame or fear of being blamed
• pressure from others
• distrust towards law enforcement
• a desire to protect the attacker for other reasons

The Impact of Sexual Violence

The impact of sexual violence extends beyond the individual survivor and reaches all of society. An assault may affect a survivor’s daily life no matter when it happened. Survivors react to sexual violence in their own way. Common emotional reactions include guilt, shame, fear, numbness, shock, and feelings of isolation. Physical impacts may include personal injuries, concerns about pregnancy, or risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection. Economic impacts of sexual violence include medical and other expenses in addition to things like time off work. The long-term psychological effects survivors may face if their trauma is untreated include post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, isolation, and others.

Sexual violence can affect parents, friends, partners, children, spouses, and/or coworkers of the survivor. As they try to make sense of what happened, loved ones may experience similar reactions and feelings to those of the survivor such as fear, guilt, self-blame, and anger. Schools, workplaces, neighborhoods, campuses, and cultural or religious communities may feel fear, anger, or disbelief when sexual assault happens in their community. Violence of all kinds destroys a sense of safety and trust. There are financial costs to communities including medical services, criminal justice expenses, crisis and mental health service fees, and the lost contributions of individuals affected by sexual violence.

Colorado Reporting Options

In Colorado, survivors of adult sexual assault have three reporting options.

In Colorado, survivors of adult sexual assault have three reporting options. Please note that these reporting options do not apply for minors (C.R.S. 19-3-304) and at-risk elders (C.R.S. 18-6.5-108), due to other mandatory reporting obligations. For individuals who do not fall under these two statutes, the three distinct reporting options survivors have at the time of receiving medical care are detailed below:

• Law Enforcement Report: A victim can choose to obtain a medical forensic exam and chooses to participate in the criminal justice system at that time.
• Medical Report: A victim can choose to obtain a medical forensic exam but at that time choose not participate in the criminal justice system. In this case, evidence and information to law enforcement is released with victim identifying information. A medical reporting victim can choose to have this evidence tested.
• Anonymous Report: A victim can choose to obtain a medical forensic exam but at that time choose to not participate in the criminal justice system. In this reporting situation, evidence and information to law enforcement is released without victim identifying information. An anonymous reporting victim is consenting to evidence storage only.