Sexual Assault

Cheryl Regehr and Ramona Alaggia

in Social Work

ISBN: 9780195389678
Published online May 2011 | | DOI:
Sexual Assault

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This entry identifies materials from the social work literature, other health science disciplines, and legal scholars regarding sexual assault against adult victims. The World Health Organization, in its World Report on Violence and Health (Krug, et al. 2002, cited under Statistics), defines sexual violence as “any sexual act, attempt to obtain a sexual act, unwanted sexual comments or advances, or acts to traffic, or otherwise directed, against a person’s sexuality using coercion, by any person regardless of their relationship to the victim, in any setting, including but not limited to home and work” (p. 149). While in the past, legal statutes referred to “rape” as an act involving sexual penetration of a woman by a man, most jurisdictions now use the broader term “sexual assault.” For instance, the Criminal Code of Canada refers to sexual assault as when “somebody touches you in a sexual way on purpose, directly or indirectly, without your consent,” whereas aggravated sexual assault involves serious injury; this definition includes rape. In Texas, by contrast, “sexual assault” refers to unwanted sexual advances that fall short of rape but which, though they may not include violence or even contact, nonetheless offend the recipient and are clearly sexual in nature. The term “sexual assault” is selected for use in this article and is intended to include all serious forms of unwanted sexual contact, including rape.

Article.  5759 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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