What is Sexual Violence?

If you or someone you know needs help, call us 24/7:
Herkimer County | 315.866.4120
Oneida County | 315.797.7740

YWCA Mohawk Valley provides sexual violence services throughout Herkimer and Oneida Counties. All services are free and confidential.
It doesn’t matter when the abuse occurred or if it was reported. We can help.

Sexual violence is an umbrella concept that covers many different acts, including but not limited to sexual abuse, assault, exploitation, or harassment. It can happen to anyone regardless of age or gender and in any setting.

Sexual assault is any non-consensual sexual contact.

A perpetrator can use threat or force to assault a victim. However, it’s important to understand that coercion can also be used.

Bottom line: If a person is disabled, underage, unconscious, asleep, under the influence of drugs, alcohol or medication, or in any way mentally or physically unable, they can’t give consent. Silence does not equal consent.


  • 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men have experienced rape or attempted rape in their lifetime
  • 1 in 2 women have experienced some sort of sexual violence
  • 1 in 3 women experience physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner
  • 41% of women experience physically aggressive street harassment
  • 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused before age 16
  • 73% of child victims don’t tell anyone for at least a year, 45% don’t tell anyone for at least 5 years, and some never disclose (Smith et al., 2000; Broman-Fulks et al., 2007)
  • Nearly 1.3 million women are raped every year (Black, Basile, Breiding, Smith, Walters, Merrick, Chen & Stevens, 2011)
  • More than 90% of child sexual abuse victims know their perpetrator in some way (Snyder, Howard, N., 2000, July – Sexual assault of young children as reported to law enforcement: victim, incident, and offender characteristics)
  • Sexual violence crimes are among the most under reported in the country (U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics)


Myths versus Facts about Sexual Violence

MYTH: Rape is sex.
FACT: Rape is a crime motivated by a need to control, humiliate, and harm. Rapists use sexual assault as a weapon to hurt and dominate others.

MYTH: Rape is something done by stranger.
FACT: Most victims know their perpetrator.

MYTH: Only women can be victims of sexual violence.
FACT: Men and boys can also be victims of sexual assault. However, many do not report because of shame, stigma and/or embarrassment.

MYTH: If a woman dresses or acts provocatively, she’s asking to be assaulted.
FACT: Nobody asks or wants to be assaulted. How a person dressed or how they act does not justify or give someone permission to sexually assault them.

MYTH: If a person doesn’t fight back physically, it’s not sexual assault.
FACT: A person may not struggle for a number of reasons, including feeling it is unsafe to do so. However, lack of a struggle does not equal consent.

MYTH: If a date pays for dinner or a movie, then sex is expected as a “pay-back.”
FACT: Accepting a date for dinner or a movie does not obligate a person to do anything in return.


If you are or have been assaulted, know this:

  • It is not your fault.
  • It’s important to get help to sort through emotions and figure out next steps. YWCA Mohawk Valley is here to support you 24/7. We offer a variety of services, including support and advocacy throughout any medical, law enforcement, and legal procedures.
  • You don’t have to go through this alone. Call YWCA MV’s confidential hotline for information, support, and guidance. In Herkimer County, call 315866.4120.  In Oneida County, call 315.797.7740.


If you have experienced sexual violence or know someone who has, we can help. YWCA MV offers:

  • Two 24-hour confidential hotlines
  • Individual and group counseling
  • Advocacy and accompaniment throughout medical, law enforcement, and legal procedures
  • Support, information, and referrals
  • Prevention education