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What is Sexual Assault (SA)?

Sexual Assault is legally defined as: any sexual contact, from unwanted touching over or under clothes to penetration, gained through physical force, threats of force, manipulation, trickery, or coercion. Consent can only be given when both parties are informed, enthusiastic, and sober.

Sexual assault occurs any time a person is forced into a sexual act. However, force does not always include physical violence. Force can happen in different ways, such as: verbal threats, overpowering the person, using a weapon, guilting, drugging someone, abusing authority or taking advantage of someone who is incapacitated from drugs, alcohol, or anesthesia. Likewise, someone with a cognitive or developmental disability who cannot make an informed decision about sex cannot give consent.


Sexual assault can happen to anyone. It crosses all societal lines and can affect anyone's life. It can be perpetrated by friends, acquaintances, family, co-workers, and intimate partners (including spouses and gay or lesbian couples). It can also happen between doctors and patients, students and teachers, clergy and parishioners, parents and their children, and it can happen between strangers. If you have been sexually assaulted, know that you are not alone.


There is no right or wrong thing to do after experiencing sexual assault. However, if you are in need of support or advice, Sitkans Against Family Violence (SAFV) has advocates that are available 24/7, who can provide confidential support and referrals. Advocates can assist with safety planning. Counseling referrals are also available. Call 907-747-3370 for assistance. 


Following are your rights and options if you are sexually assaulted:

  • Ensure your own safety. 

  • Consider calling a trusted friend or family member. 

  • You can call the local DV/SA program in your community. SAFV is staffed with trained advocates 24/7 who can assist you at any time.

  • You have the right to go to the hospital.

  • You have the right to be screened for sexually transmitted infections, receive emergency contraception, and have a Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) exam to gather forensic evidence.

  • You have the right to only receive medical attention without police involvement, if you choose. However, Alaska law does require medical providers to report gunshot injuries to law enforcement. They are also mandated reporters, and therefore, required by law to report abuse involving children or vulnerable adults.

  • You have the right to pursue criminal charges and gather evidence through a Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) exam. A SART team is made up of a police officer, trained nurse examiner, and a victim advocate.

    • If you decide to press charges and get a SART exam, do not shower, brush teeth, change clothes, or anything else that could destroy evidence. It is best to conduct a SART exam within 96 hours of being assaulted.  However, other evidence, such as injuries, can still be documented.

    • If you choose ​to receive a SART exam, here's what you can expect: You will first be interviewed by an officer and medical provider. The officer then leaves the room, and the medical provider conducts a medical exam to gather forensic evidence. The victim advocate can stay with you the entire time if you choose.

  • You have the right to pursue a Sexual Assault Protective Order or a Domestic Violence Protective Order.

    • If you are sexually assaulted by a stranger or acquaintance, you are eligible for a Sexual Assault Protective Order.

    • If you are sexually assaulted by a household member, you are eligible for a domestic violence order. You can file for an emergency 72-hour order on nights and weekends, a 20-day order, or a long-term order. Sexual Assault long-term orders are six months, and Domestic Violence long-term orders are for one year.


* Please note: Protective orders are civil, not criminal matters. If you intend to pursue criminal charges, everything you say in a protective order hearing can be used in the criminal proceedings. If you would like assistance in discussing options, please contact an advocate at SAFV: 907-747-3370.


In order for someone to give consent to participating in sexual activitity of any kind, there are four requirements that must be present: 

VOLUNTEERED: Consent can only be given when both parties are informed, enthusiastic, and sober. Consent cannot be coerced, manipulated, guilted, gained through force or threat, or based on fear or trickery.


ACTIVE: Consent must be present the whole time and can be taken away at any point. Consent is required for each sexual act. It must include verbal communication, not just body language -- there must be a present “yes,” not just the absence of a “no.”


AWARE: Both individuals must be able to make informed decisions. Not asleep, drunk, or otherwise mentally impaired.


AGE (Alaska law): The following chart breaks down the general rules of the legal age(s) of consent in Alaska:






There are four levels of sexual abuse of a minor. They range from serious felonies to misdemeanors depending on the situation, the age of the victim, and the relationship between the victim to the offender. Any sexual assault of a minor (unwanted contact or penetration) should be reported to the Office of Children's Services. For more information on reporting the sexual assault of a minor, visit our REPORT ABUSE page.

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While perpetrators are the only ones to blame for sexual assault; active bystanders also play an important role in preventing sexual assault. Everyone has the ability to intervene and help someone from emotional or physical harm.

DISRUPT: Call out negative behavior or speak to the victim directly. This can look like telling the perpetrator they're making the other person uncomfortable, or that their behavior is inappropriate. Addressing the victim can look like you interrupting their conversation with, "Are you okay?" or 
You seen uncomfortable, do you need help?"

DISTRACT: Create a diversion where the victim can find an "easy out". This can look like "accidentally" spilling a drink or asking the victim if they'd like to join you in a game.


REDIRECT: If the situation seems unsafe and you are struggling to intervene, you can refer the intervention to other bystanders or contact your local authorities. Gathering a group of bystanders to intervene together can be a safe and effective option.


Intervening as a bystander can be difficult; feeling embarrassed, fearful, and hesitant are normal and commonly experienced emotions. By practicing the above intervention tactics you can help someone escape a potentially harmful situation. Bystanders make up a community, and a community with active bystanders means everyone is protected and safe.


If you have been sexually assaulted, it's important to know that nothing you have done has caused the assault. It is a frightening and disturbing event in someone's life. There are many fears, questions, and thoughts you may have because of the assault.


You may experience the immediate reactions of shock, denial, anger, anxiety, and disorientation. Your emotions may go from one extreme to the other. You may blame yourself, have stomachaches, or feel exhausted or fearful of being alone. Whatever you are feeling is okay. Everyone handles their emotions differently, you might mask or hide them or become expressive with crying, restlessness, and so forth. The process of resolving your feelings will vary with your age, personality, and available support system. To learn more about how sexual assault affects a person's neurobiology, check out this WEBINAR. 


Understanding the facts about sexual assault can help you cope with your resulting feelings and thoughts.  Speaking with a SAFV advocate can assist you with the immediate crisis or with the aftermath of a sexual assault. The advocates at SAFV are ready to help you whenever you need them, now or in the future.


  • From 2015 to 2021, there has been a 14.7% increase in Alaska women who have experienced intimate partner violence (IPV) and sexual violence (SV). (Source)

  • Rape rates in Alaska are 3-4x the national average. (Source)

  • 154.8 sexual assaults per 100,000 people were reported in Alaska, higher than any other U.S. state. (Source)

  • 54% of Alaska's sexual assault victims are Alaska Native. (Source)

  • 56.1% of American Indian (AI) or Alaska Native (AN) women reported experiencing sexual violence in their lifetime. 27.5% of AI or AN men reported experiencing sexual violence in their lifetime. (Source)

  • More than 1 in 3 AI and AN female survivors and 1 and 6 AI and AN males were unable to receive the necessary medical, legal, advocacy, and housing services needed, post assault. (Source)

Statistics about rates of sexual violence in Alaska Native populations is outdated and incomplete. The most recent survey released by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) is from 2016. Specific date focusing on sexual violence against Alaska Native population is minimal, and many crimes often go unreported. 




  • SAFV: 1-800-478-6511 (Toll-free in Alaska)

  • RAINN: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)


  • Take Bake the Night's National Sexual Assault Legal Hotline: Call 567-SHATTER (567-742-8837) or complete this form.


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