Understanding Sexual Violence

Sexual violence compromises a person’s trust and feeling of safety. It can occur any time a person is forced, coerced, or manipulated into unwanted sexual activity. This includes the following:


Sexual contact means any direct or indirect fondling or manipulating of any part of the genitals, anus or female breast.


A person commits sexual assault if he or she intentionally or knowingly engages in sexual intercourse or sexual contact with any person without the consent of that person.


A person commits aggravated sexual assault if he or she intentionally knows the following in the course of committing sexual assault or attempted sexual assault:

  1. Causes bodily injury to the victim;
  2. Uses or threatens to victim by use of a deadly weapon;
  3. Forces, or attempts to force the victim to submit to sexual assault by threat of kidnapping, death, or serious bodily injury to be inflicted upon any person.


A person commits seduction if he or she has sexual intercourse or sexual contact with another person, not his or her spouse, if the other person is less than 16 years old.


A person commits incest if he or she knowingly engages in sexual conduct with another who is related to such person by whole or half-blood, an ancestor or descendant, a brother or sister, or an uncle, niece, aunt, nephew or first cousin.


Sometimes called acquaintance rape, date rape is a sexual act committed against a person by someone who he/she knows without consent.



In most acquaintance rape cases, both people had been drinking and/or using drugs. At least two drugs have become known as the “Date Rape” drug.

Both drugs cause sleep and amnesia. The ability to remember is impaired even more when these drugs are taken with alcohol and/or other drugs.


When some talks about sex, gestures, or touches another person in a sexual way that makes the other person uncomfortable. This includes:


Sexual violence that occurs in Indian Country is significantly underreported. It is a fact that there is widespread sexual abuse committed by relatives and other family members of Native American descent. Many of these assaults are not reported because sexual abuse can often reflect denial, shame, and distrust for the respect of clanship in the Native American community.


Many Native American women do not report sexual violence due to the high level of mistrust for law enforcement. Women and young girls may also fear banishment and exclusion by their clan relatives and immediate family members. The devastation and shame of dealing with sexual violence by a clan relative may bring dispute among the respected family and relatives. This reveals self-hatred and internal racism.

Underreporting is very common on the Navajo Nation, for example. Even more so because victims lack an understanding of the Navajo Nation’s Legal System due to the term: “Nalyeeh.”

Nalyeeh means the traditional Navajo common law process for open discussion of an offense and the Navajo values which apply to that offense. It also refers to the mediation and assignment of liability under this process and the use of reconciliation, restorative justice, and reparation in place of fines and Jailing. A law system based on Nalyeeh encourages public recognition and discussion of a person’s crime which can be a further deterrence for victims reporting sexual crimes that could bring shame to their family.

Source: Ama Doo Alchini Bighan, Inc.