April Is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Los Alamos Police Department

In the United States, an individual is sexually assaulted every 68 seconds.

One in 6 women and 1 in 33 men in the United States has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape.

Rape and sexual assault affect women, children, and men of all racial, cultural, and economic backgrounds, it does not discriminate.

What is sexual assault? 

The term sexual assault refers to the sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the consent of the victim. Sexual assault can take many different forms including:

•            Attempted rape

•            Fondling or unwanted sexual touching

•            Forcing a victim to perform sexual acts, such as oral sex or penetrating the perpetrator’s body

•            Penetration of the victim’s body, also known as rape

What is rape? 

Rape is a form of sexual assault, but not all sexual assault is rape. The term rape is often used as a legal definition to specifically include sexual penetration without the consent of the victim. Rape is identified as penetration no matter how slight of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration.

Using force to commit sexual assault or rape:  

The use of force does not always refer to physical force, a perpetrator may use emotional coercion, psychological force, or manipulation to coerce a victim into non-consensual sex. Perpetrators will use threats to force a victim to comply, such as threatening to hurt the victim, their family, or their reputation in their community, workplace, or through social media. 

Who are Preparators? 

Approximately 8 out of 10 sexual assaults are committed by someone known to the victim, such as an intimate partner, family friend, neighbor, or a co-worker. In other instances, the victim may not know the perpetrator at all, this is referred to as stranger rape.

Survivors of both stranger rape and acquaintance rape often blame themselves for behaving in a way that encouraged the perpetrator. It’s important to remember that the victim is never to blame for the actions of a perpetrator.

Sexual violence can have psychological, emotional, and physical effects on a victim. These effects aren’t always easy to deal with, here are different forms that can affect victims: 

  • Depression
  • Flashbacks 
  • PTSD: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Self-Harm 
  • Sexually Transmitted Infections 
  • Substances Abuse 
  • Panic Attacks 
  • Eating Disorders 
  • Pregnancy 
  • Sleep Disorder 
  • Suicide 


  1. Go to a safe place, a friend, the hospital, or a police station. 

If you are unsure of what to do call 911 or the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673). They can walk you through the process of getting help.

  1. Most people who have been assaulted or raped want to take a shower, but it is best to leave everything on your body as is. Don’t brush your teeth or comb your hair until you have been examined. Even if you have no plans to press charges, it is important that the evidence is left intact. 
  1. Seek medical attention. After being raped, the last thing any victim wants is to have a doctor touch them. There are trained professional called Sexual assault nurse examiners (SANE) who conduct medical examination for victims of rape. In addition to collecting evidence, they will test you for sexually transmitted diseases and can provide you with post-exposure prophylactics to help prevent HIV. They can also provide you with emergency contraception to prevent pregnancy if you want it.
  1. Decide if you want to talk to the police. Even though what happened to you is a crime, you are not required to report it to the police unless you want to. It is 100% your decision. 


What happened to you is not your fault, you are not to blame, and nothing you did caused this to happen to you. The choice was made by the person who assaulted you. 

If you feel you need to speak with someone you can call any of the following: 

• The National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) 

• Solace Crisis Treatment Center at 1-800-721-7273    

• RAINN 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)

• Los Alamos Victim Assistant at 1-505-663-3511         

If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, make sure you or they are safe. If not, consider calling 911 for assistance. Please know it is not your fault and you are not alone!