Sexual Violence - An Overview

Sexual violence is a serious public health issue. It often results in significant and lasting consequences for victims, families, and communities. The term "sexual violence" covers a range of behaviors commonly referred to as sexual assault, sexual abuse or sexual harassment. Hawaii's sexual assault statutes cover four degrees of sexual assault ranging from Class A felonies to petty misdemeanor offenses. (See Hawaii Sexual Assault Statutes).

Sexual violence is broadly defined as any forced, tricked or coerced sexual activity. It can involve both contact and non-contact activity and occurs when the victim does not consent to the sexual activity or is unable to do so (e.g., due to age, disability, incapacitation through the use of drugs or alcohol).

Sexual violence includes:

  • Sexual Harassment - Unwanted, usually repeated, sexually explicit statements, gestures or physical contact. It covers a broad range of activities such as pinching or grabbing body parts, sexually explicit gesturing and pressuring a person for sexual favors.

  • Exposure - Showing one's private parts to another or when a person is tricked, forced or bribed into showing his or her own private parts to another. Flashing and "Peeping Tom" activities are considered exposure. Also included are activities such as making another view sexual activity or exposing them to sexually explicit materials via videos, websites, magazines, etc. Sexual predators often groom their child victims in this way.

  • Fondling - Either having one's sexual parts touched or being made to touch another person's sexual parts over or under clothing.

  • Penetration - Penetrating another person's body openings (vagina, mouth, anus) with a penis, finger, tongue or any other object. Rape is a form of penetration.