1 in 3 women will experience a sexual assault in her lifetime.
1 in 6 men are victims of sexual violence.
- You are not alone
- You are not to blame
- You do not deserve to be treated this way
- You have rights
- You can get help
Sexual violence is any sort of non-consensual sexual contact. Sexual abuse can happen to men or women of any age. Sexual violence includes rape and attempted rape, child molestation, and sexual harassment or threats. Perpetrators are usually someone known to the survivors and can be a friend, intimate partner, coworker, neighbour, or family member of the survivor.
Sexual abuse by a partner/intimate partner can include derogatory name-calling; refusal to use contraception; deliberately causing unwanted physical pain during sex; deliberately passing on sexual diseases or infections and using objects without consent and causing pain or humiliation. Sexual abuse also includes acts that do not involve physical contact between the victim and the perpetrator—for example, sexual harassment, threats, and peeping.
Sexual abuse or violence is therefore somewhat of an umbrella term, and can describe many things, including:
- rape, including partner and marital rape
- unwanted sexual contact (touching or grabbing)
- unwelcome exposure of another’s body, exhibitionism, or voyeurism
- child sexual abuse
- incest or molestation
- sexual harassment
- sexual exploitation of clients by therapists, doctors, dentists, or other professionals
Types of Sexual Abuse
Sexual Assault: unwanted sexual contact that stops short of rape or attempted rape. This includes sexual touching and fondling.
Rape, as defined by the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), is forced sexual intercourse. It is an act of violence and control in which the weapon is sex. It is not motivated by sexual desire, but by the desire to overpower and dominate the victim. It is a dehumanizing act in which the person is seen as an object not a person.
Sexual Assault or Rape Facilitated by Drugs or Alcohol
This most often happens when you are at a party, club, or a social event and someone secretly drops a drug such as roofies or ecstasy in your drink. When the drug dissolves, it is odorless. It may be colorless, or may leave a bluish colored residue, and it may also be tasteless. As you consume the drink, the drug takes effect. You may experience drowsiness, dizziness, confusion, lack of coordination, slurred speech, loss of inhibition, impaired judgment and reduced levels of consciousness. Often, these drugs cause amnesia, and you cannot remember what happened and who assaulted you. ‘Roofies’ are not the only drug used in drug-facilitated sexual assaults. Alcohol is in fact the most commonly used drug to facilitate the perpetration of sexual assault. Just as with roofies, alcohol impairs your judgment, lowers inhibitions, and affects consciousness. In the eyes of the law, you cannot consent to have sex when you are under the influence of alcohol.
Child molestation: is any sexual contact with a child. Many children who are molested are too young to know what is happening and may not fight back. Some abusers use the child’s cooperation in these cases as “evidence” that no one was harmed. Examples of child molestation might include fondling or demanding sexual favors from a child.
Incest: describes sexual contact between family members who are too closely related to marry. While incestuous sexual activity may occur between consenting adults, this is not common. The majority of all reported incest occurs as child abuse.
Other forms of sexual abuse: Not all sexual abuse fits neatly into common legal or psychological definitions, such revenge pornography sites, which publish nude photos of victims without their consent, are another form of sexual abuse.
Article 177: Rape
A person who, through assault or intimidation, forcibly commits sexual intercourse, anal sex or oral sex (hereinafter referred to as “sexual intercourse etc.”) with a person of not less than thirteen years of age commits the crime of rape and shall be punished by imprisonment with work for a definite term of not less than 5 years. The same shall apply to a person who commits sexual intercourse with a person under thirteen years of age.
Article 178: Quasi Forcible Indecency; Quasi Rape
(2) A person who commits sexual intercourse with a person by taking advantage of a loss of consciousness or inability to resist, or by causing a loss of consciousness or inability to resist, shall be punished in the same matter as prescribed in the preceding Article.
Those who have taken advantage of a position of influence by having sexual intercourse etc with victims who are under 18 years old and in their care or custody, shall be punished in the same manner as prescribed in Article 177.
Forcible Indecency: Article 176: A person, who through assault or intimidation, forcibly commits an indecent act upon a male or female of not less than thirteen years of age shall be punished by imprisonment with work for not less than 6 months but not more than 10 years.
What are the myths and facts?
- Rape is not a big deal, it is only sex. Rape is a crime.
- Rapists are usually strangers. Most survivors know their attacker.
- A man cannot rape his wife. Marital rape is a crime.
- Rape occurs because of a woman’s behavior or dress. An attacker chooses their victim, what a woman wears has nothing to do with consent.
- Men cannot be raped. Yes they can and do.
- It’s not sexual assault or rape if those involved have had sex with each other before. Previous consent does not confer future consent.
- Sexual assault is committed in dark alleys by strangers. Over 50% of rapes and assaults are committed close by the survivors home
- People with disabilities are at low risk for sexual assault.People with disabilities are victims of sexual assault twice as much as people without disabilities.
- If a woman goes to her date’s house, it implies she is willing to have sex. Going to someone’s place or on a date, accepting a gift or having dinner brought, does not imply sexual consent.
Impact of sexual violence
Sexual abuse is a personal and destructive crime that can result in physical, mental, sexual, reproductive, and other health problems.These include, but are not limited to: chronic pain, headaches, stomach problems, and sexually transmitted diseases. Sexual abuse can have emotional impacts as well.
Some of the mental health challenges survivors of sexual abuse face include:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Anxiety or phobias
- Eating disorders
- Substance use or abuse
- Low self esteem
- Guilt, embarrassment, self blame
- Anger or sadness
- Fear, distrust
It is important to remember that there is not one “normal” reaction to sexual violence. Therefore your individual response will be different depending on your personal circumstances. These reactions may be experienced days, months, or years after an assault.
Get Support Now
If you are in immediate danger, contact the police at 1-1-0. Ask for an interpreter if necessary (Tsu-ya-ku in Japanese) and go to a safe place.
After a rape or sexual assault, you may feel fear, shame, guilt, or shock. These feelings are normal. It may be frightening to think about talking about the assault, but it is important to get help. In Japan, besides the nationwide service such as the police(110) and hospitals (119), it might be helpful to contact your embassy.
If you are concerned about pregnancy and STIs the Morning After Pill and STI testing can be obtained in most of the big hospitals. Despite the complicated feelings and overwhelming information, understanding that it is your right to report the crime is important. Sexual Assault Relief Centers are being set up in all prefectures where rape and sexual assault survivors can get medical treatment and counseling, while these centers operate in Japanese getting an interpreter is an option.
It is important if you would like to press charges to preserve all physical evidence of the assault, even if you are unsure whether you want to report the crime. Do not shower, bathe, douche, wash your hands or brush your teeth until after you have had a medical examination. Save all clothing that you were wearing at the time of the assault and bring them and any other potential evidence to the medical exam. Place each item of clothing in a separate paper bag. Do not use plastic bags. Do not clean or disturb the area where the assault occurred.
If you think you or someone you know has been drugged, go to the hospital emergency room immediately. Be clear when telling the staff that you think someone may have given you drugs without your consent. You will need to give a urine sample. It is imperative that the urine sample be taken as soon as possible since some of these drugs have a half-life of only a few minutes! This means that within a matter of a few hours, the drug may be completely metabolized and undetectable. Try to keep a sample of the beverage and the container it was in for analysis. It is also important that you tell hospital personnel all of your symptoms because many of the drugs being discussed here are not part of routine drug screens at the hospital and most hospital labs do not have the equipment needed to test for some of these drugs. In this case the sample is sent to a lab with appropriate equipment
It doesn’t matter what you were wearing, where you went, who you went with, or how much you had to drink. It doesn’t matter if the person who assaulted you was a stranger or someone you know. It was not your fault.
- TELL Lifeline – phone 03-5774-0992 or chat; 9am – 11pm Mon – Thurs; 9am – 2am Fri – Sun
- Sexual Assault Relief Center Tokyo(SARC) : 03-5607-0799
- Yorisoi Hotline: 0120-279-226
- Tsubomi Rape Crisis Center (in Japanese): 03-5577-4042
- St. Luke’s International Hospital (Tokyo): 03-3550-7166
- Shirakaba Clinic (Tokyo, for male survivors): 03-5919-3127
- Sexual Assault Crisis Healing Intervention Center (Osaka): 072-330-0799 (website in Japanese only)
- Heartful Station (Aichi, in Japanese): 0570-064-810 (website in Japanese only)
- Rape Emergency Intervention Counseling Center (Okinawa): 098-890-6110 (website in Japanese only)
- Association of Medical Doctors in Japan (AMDA): 03-6233-9266 (Mon – Fri 10:00 – 16:00)
- Himawari: Himawari can help you find a clinic, pharmacy and medical interpretation in Japan
- International Mental Health Professionals Japan (IMHPJ)
- Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Hotline
- National Sexual Violence Resource Center
- Trauma and Recovery by Judith Herman
- Tokyo Crime Victim Hotline (by Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department – Japanese only) TEL: 03-3597-7830. Services available from 8:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. weekdays.
- Emergency Interpretation Service (for Medical Institutions) Tokyo: Mon-Fri (5pm-10pm): (03) 5285-8185
How to Help a Friend Who Has Been Sexually Assaulted
Sexual violence can affect parents, friends, partners, children, spouses, and/or co-workers of the survivor. In order to best assist the survivor, it is important for those close to them to get support. Survivors may experience a wide range of reactions
- Often survivors need to talk about the attack. Listen to what they tell you but don’t interrogate her/him.
- Don’t blame your friend for her/his decisions.
- Allow your friend the freedom to choose when, where and how to talk about her/his experience.
- Be sensitive. Understand that she/he is in distress, and will be dealing with a wide array of strong, and sometimes overwhelming, feelings.
- Respect your friend’s confidentiality and don’t share information about her/his experience with other friends.
- Be patient. Recovery from sexual assault can be slow. Your friend sets the pace.
- Realize that you may also have strong feelings about the trauma.
- Remember that whatever your friend did to survive an attack was exactly what she/he needed to do. Your friend did not cause the attack and is not at fault.
- Encourage your friend to contact the Sexual Assault Resource Center.