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Sexual assault can take many forms

Hawaii residents should be aware that there are many different forms of sexual assault. Defined as sexual contact or behavior that takes place against victims who have not provided clear consent, assault may include unwanted sexual touching, attempted rape, fondling, penetration of the victim's body and compelling an unwilling person to perform sexual acts.

While rape is considered a form of sexual assault, not all sexual assault qualifies as rape. In its Uniform Crime Reports, the Federal Bureau of Investigations states that rape is any degree of penetration of the vagina or anus that is conducted with any object or body part against the will of the victim.

The term force is not always used to denote physical pressure. Perpetrators of sexual assault may employ psychological force, emotional coercion or manipulation to pressure victims into non-consensual sex. In some cases, threats, such as threatening to harm the victim or their loved ones, will be used to coerce a victim into compliance.

In the majority of cases in which sexual assault takes place, the perpetrator is someone with whom the victim is acquainted. About 70 percent of sexual assaults are committed by an individual known to the victim.

Acquaintance rape is sometimes referred to as date rape. Individuals who commit acquaintance rape may be a date, neighbor, classmate, the significant other of a friend or some other known person. It is important to keep in mind that consent is not implied by dating, kissing or previous instances of intimacy for increased or sustained sexual contact.

An attorney who advocates for a victim of sexual abuse or assault may file a lawsuit against the perpetrator. Entities that failed to protect victims from sexual assault may also be sued.

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