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Sexual Assault

What is Sexual Assault?

The exact definition of “rape,” “sexual assault,” “sexual abuse” and similar terms differs by state. The wording can get confusing, since states often use different words to mean the same thing or use the same words to describe different things. So, for a precise legal definition, you need to check the law in your state. But here are some general guidelines based on the definitions used by the U.S. Justice Department. Please note that these definitions are a bit graphic, which is inevitable when describing crimes this violent.


Rape is forced sexual intercourse, including vaginal, anal, or oral penetration. Penetration may be by a body part or an object. Rape victims may be forced through threats or physical means. In about 8 out of 10 rapes, no weapon is used other than physical force. Anyone may be a victim of rape: women, men or children, straight or gay.


Sexual assault is unwanted sexual contact that stops short of rape or attempted rape. This includes sexual touching and fondling. (But, be aware: Some states use this term interchangeably with rape.) Further Explanation: Sexual Assault can take the form of:

  • -Sexual Assault

  • -Exposing/FlashingRape

  • -Forcing a person to pose for sexual picturesAcquaintance Rape

  • -Fondling/Unwanted Sexual Touching

  • -Child Sexual Abuse

  • -Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault

  • -Male Sexual Assault

  • -Intimate Partner RapeStranger Rape

  • -Sexual Harassment

  • -Sexual Exploitation by Helping Professionals


In the most extreme cases, sexual assault may involve force which may include, but is not limited to:

  • -Use or display of weapon

  • -Physical battering

  • -Immobilization of the victim

More often, however, sexual assault involves psychological coercion and taking advantage of an individual who is under duress or incapacitated and, therefore, incapable of making a decision on his/her own.


Sexual assault is NEVER the victims fault.  Sexual assault is a crime motivated by a need to control, humiliate and harm. Perpetrators use sexual assault as a weapon to hurt and dominate others.


This section was adapted from materials provided by the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault

Was I Sexually Assaulted?

Being a survivor of sexual assault can be very confusing and frustrating. If you are unsure if you experienced sexual assault please contact an advocate at SAFE Project. No matter what you were doing, you did not ask or deserve to be sexually assaulted. Seek help and support from counselors.

For Information Regarding the Wyoming state Statutes on sexual assault please visit:

Rights of Sexual Assault Victims

  • To be treated with dignity and respect by institutional and legal personnel.

  • To be given as much credibility as a victim of any other crime.

  • To be considered a victim of rape when any unwanted act of sex is forced on them through any type of coercion.

  • To be asked only those questions that are relevant to a court case or to medical treatment.

  • Not to have to report the rape to police.

  • To receive medical and mental health treatment or participate in legal procedures only after giving informed consent.

  • Not to be exposed to prejudice against race, age, class, gender, sexual orientation, appearance, lifestyle or occupation.

  • To be treated in a manner that does not take control away from them but enables them to determine their own needs and how to meet them.

  • To have access to support people such as advocates and counselors.

  • To receive prompt medical and mental health services at no cost, whether or not the rape is reported to the police.

  • To be protected from future assault.

  • To be provided with information about all possible options related to legal and medical procedures.

  • To have their name kept from the news media.

  • To be considered a victim of rape regardless of the perpetrator’s relationship to the victim, such as spouse, relative, or partner.

  • To defend themselves from the assailant by any means necessary without having to fear being prosecuted for harming the assailant during the attack.

  • To be provided with information about their rights.

  • To have access to counseling.

  • To have the best possible collection of evidence in court.

  • To have competent legal representation.

  • To have a preliminary hearing in each case when an arrest is made

    What to do if you are Sexually Assaulted:

  1. Your safety is important. Are you in a safe place? If you’re not feeling safe, consider reaching out to someone you trust for support. You don’t have to go through this alone.

  2. What happened was not your fault. Something happened to you that you didn’t want to happen—and that’s not OK.

  3. Call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673) or the SAFE Project Hotline at 307-742-7273. You’ll be connected to a trained staff member from a local sexual assault service provider in your area. They will direct you to the appropriate local health facility that can care for survivors of sexual assault. Some service providers may be able to send a trained advocate to accompany you.

  4. Seek medical attention. It is important to get an exam by a trained medical provider and screened for STD's, pregnancy and general well-being.

  5. Get a Forensic Exam by a SANE Nurse (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) from your local hospital. This is used for evidence collection, should you decide to report to law enforcement. If you are not ready to report, the kits can be stored anonymously until when/if you decide to move forward. An advocate can discuss reporting options with you.

Find Out More:

Forensic Medical Exam Payment Information:

If you reprot to law enforcement at the time of your exam: The cost of the kit is covered by police department that takes your report. (Laramie Police, UW Police) and the remainder of the costs must be submitted to your insurance. Any remaining bills may be submitted to the Division of Victim's Service for compensation.

If you do not report at the time of your exam or you delay reporting: All costs of the kit and any medications are covered and paid for by the Division of Victim's Services.

Note: Any problems or questions regarding billing may be explained by an advocate.

Did I Give Consent?

There are three main considerations in judging whether or not a sexual act is consensual (which means that both people are old enough to consent, have the capacity to consent, and agreed to the sexual contact) or is a crime.


Are the participants old enough to consent?


Each state sets an “age of consent,” which is the minimum age someone must be to have sex. People below this age are considered children and cannot legally agree to have sex. In other words, even if the child or teenager says yes, the law says no. In most states, the age of consent is 16 or 18. In some states, the age of consent varies according to the age difference between the participants. Generally, “I thought she was 18” is not considered a legal excuse — it’s up to you to make sure your partner is old enough to legally take part. Because laws are different in every state, it is important to find out the law in your state. Find Wyoming's state law at the top of the page.


Do both people have the capacity to consent?


States also define who has the mental and legal capacity to consent. Those with diminished capacity — for example, some people with disabilities, some elderly people and people who have been drugged or are unconscious — may not have the legal ability to agree to have sex. These categories and definitions vary widely by state, so it is important to check the law in your state.


Did both participants agree to take part?


Did someone use physical force to make you have sexual contact with him/her? Has someone threatened you to make you have intercourse with them? If so, it is sexual assault.

It doesn’t matter if you think your partner means yes, or if you’ve already started having sex — “No” also means “Stop.” If you proceed despite your partner’s expressed instruction to stop, you have not only violated basic codes of morality and decency, you may have also committed a crime under the laws of your state (check your state’s laws for specifics).


Information from:

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