Sexual Assault

Sexual Assault Defined

Sexual assault is sexual contact or behavior without the explicit consent of the victim. Some forms of sexual assault include:

  • Attempted rape
  • Fondling or unwanted sexual touching
  • Forcing a victim to perform sexual acts, such as oral sex or penetrating the perpetrator's body
  • Penetration of the victim's body, also known as rape
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Rape and Force

Rape is a form of sexual assault, but not all sexual assault is rape. According to the FBI, rape is “penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim. Learn more about South Dakota's rape laws. Perpetrators force victims into sexual activities with physical or psychological force, through emotional coercion, or with intimidation.

It's Never a Victim's Fault

Sexual assault is stereotypically thought and depicted in the media to happen in dark alleys to a young adult because of the type of clothing being worn or due to intoxication. Society and victims blame the victim for behaving in ways to encourage the perpetrator but it's never a victim's fault.

Acquaintance and Stranger Rape

The majority of rape is done by a perpetrator who knows the victim or is in an intimate relationship with the victim. Strangers rape victims in one of three ways. Blitz sexual assault is the dark alley scenario that may most often come to mind. Contact sexual assault is when a perpetrator flirts or lures the victim to their car or situation where the rape will occur. Home invasion sexual assault is when a stranger breaks into the victim's home to commit the assault.

If You Are a Victim

If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, report the assault to local law enforcement and/or hospital staff and call Safe Harbor at 605-226-1212 or the National Hotline 800-656-HOPE (4673). Our professionals will encourage you to consider a rape kit and assist you with whatever level of support you need. This may include pressing charges through advocacy and legal assistance or counseling through group support groups and local professionals.

Evidence Collection

If you or someone you know has been sexual assaulted, we encourage you to consider going to the hospital to have a rape kit/sexual assault evidence kit done. We can send a compassionate advocate to accompany you through the exam if needed. A rape kit involves a trained nurse or doctor taking swabs of areas on your body to gather any DNA that may have been left by your perpetrator. This should be done as soon as possible after the sexual assault; best practice is within 72 hours, however, evidence can be found after 72 hours.

For the best evidence collection, it is recommended that you:

  • Do not shower, brush your hair, brush your teeth, or any other hygiene care after a sexual assault.
  • Do not change clothes; however, if you do, it is best to put your clothes in a paper bag rather than plastic.

For College Students

You can report a sexual assault to your campus security or counseling center. The way campus handles the sexual assault report is contingent upon the schools protocol and is not always reported to local law enforcement.

Every 68 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted.

Only 25 out of every 1,000 rapists will end up in prison.

Stand Against Rape on Denim Day

The movement began in 1992 after a ruling by the Italian Supreme Court where a rape conviction was overturned because the victim was wearing tight jeans. The next day, the women in the Italian Parliament came to work wearing jeans in solidarity.

Each April, we ask our community, elected officials, businesses and students to take a stand against victim-blaming by wearing jeans on Denim Day. Head over to to learn more about the campaign.