What is Sexual Assault?

What is Sexual Assault?

Sexual assault is defined as any type of sexual contact made by one person against another that is unwanted. If a person does not or cannot consent and sexual contact is made, it is considered sexual assault.

(Source: Andrew Pickett Law Firm- Melbourne, Florida)

What does Sexual Assault Include?
  • Rape and attempted rape

  • Intentional and unwelcome sexual touching (including disrobing or exposure), however slight, with any body part or any object, by a man or a woman upon a man or a woman, without effective consent, of a person’s breasts, buttocks, groin, or genitals (or clothing covering such areas), or coercing, forcing, or attempting to coerce or force another to touch you, themselves, or a third party with any of these body parts or areas when such touching would be reasonably and objectively offensive

  • Any sexual act in which there is force, violence, or use of duress or deception upon the victim

  • Any sexual act perpetrated when the victim is unable to give consent

  • Sexual intimidation, which includes but is not limited to:
      • Threatening, expressly or impliedly, to commit a sexual act upon another person without his or her consent
      • Stalking or cyber-stalking

  • Engaging in indecent exposure.

(Source: FSW.edu)

Consent is an agreement between participants to engage in sexual activity. Consent should be clearly and freely communicated. A verbal and affirmative expression of consent can help both you and your partner to understand and respect each other’s boundaries.

Consent cannot be given by individuals who are underage, intoxicated or incapacitated by drugs or alcohol, or asleep or unconscious. If someone agrees to an activity under pressure of intimidation or threat, that isn’t considered consent because it was not given freely. Unequal power dynamics, such as engaging in sexual activity with an employee or student, also mean that consent cannot be freely given.

(Source: RAINN)

When you’re engaging in sexual activity, consent is about communication. And it should happen every time for every type of activity. Consenting to one activity, one time, does not mean someone gives consent for other activities or for the same activity on other occasions. YOU CAN CHANGE YOUR MIND AT ANY TIME.

(Source: RAINN)

Can men and boys be sexually assaulted?

YES. Anyone can be victim of sexual assault, regardless of gender. One in six males will be sexually assaulted sometime in their lifetime.

What if the victim feels as if "it was their fault" that the sexual assault happened?

Rape can happen to anyone, and no one is to blame for rape other than the rapist. The victim is never at fault, no matter what they did or did not do to thwart the attack, what type of clothing they were wearing, or whether or not they were using alcohol or other drugs. No one deserves to be raped!

What if the person does not remember the assault. Does that mean it isn't assault? Is there anything that can be done if someone doesn't remember?

Just because someone doesn’t remember being assaulted doesn’t necessarily mean it didn’t happen and that it wasn’t sexual assault. Memory loss can result from the ingestion of GHB and other drugs, and from excessive alcohol consumption. It also does not necessarily mean the case cannot be investigated or prosecuted. If someone wakes up and believes they may have been drugged and assaulted, we encourage them to call 911, go to the nearest emergency room as soon as possible, or call our hotline number associated with where the person lives. Some drugs disappear from the body quickly, and time is an important factor.

What Happens Next?

What should someone do if they think they have been sexually assaulted?

Make sure they are in a safe environment. If they believe they are still in danger, call 911. Once they’re out of physical danger, they can go to their nearest hospital or contact our hotline number associated with where that person lives.

Bay, Calhoun, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Washington County: 1-866-218-4738

Walton and Okaloosa County: 1-866-944-1222

Santa Rosa and Escambia County: 1-866-585-2040

What is a medical forensic exam? Is it the same as a rape kit?
A medical forensic exam (sometimes referred to as a \”rape kit\” or \”rape exam\”) is a careful procedure performed by a specially trained Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE nurse) that has the potential to collect DNA and other evidence in a way that may be used in court if the person chooses to prosecute. If they decide to have a forensic exam (and it’s completely up to that person), the SANE nurse or other medical professional will be called to perform the exam. Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners are specifically trained to collect evidence, check for injuries, and deal with the possibility of pregnancy and exposure to sexually transmitted diseases. A Victim Advocate will also be present to offer emotional support and discuss resources.
Remember, everyone has the right to refuse any medical treatment, including the forensic exam, when they go to the hospital or come to our center. Also keep in mind that, if the assault occurred weeks or months before, medical attention is still important. We encourage everyone to see their general practitioner or other medical professional for a wellness check, pregnancy tests, testing for sexually transmitted infections and HIV, or anything else they may need.
(Source: RAINN)
Where can I go to get a medical forensic exam?
In the state of Florida, if a victim would like to make a police report, she/he has up to 120 hours from the time the assault occurred for a medical forensic exam to be completed. If the assault occurred more than 120 hours ago, a forensic exam cannot be completed but the crime may still be reported. We would still encourage everyone to obtain, at a minimum, a wellness exam, to ensure that they have not sustained any additional injuries.
Gulf Coast Sexual Assault Program will dispatch victim advocates to the hospital if the victim requests an advocate. If a victim would rather not go to a hospital and the person does not have any additional injuries, the victim can request that the exam take place in our offices with our SANE nurse and victim advocate.
It is important to note that victims do have options and we are here to sort through those options with you in-person as well as on the phone.
How do I access my medical forensic exam kit tracking?
What happens when someone calls the hotline?

When a victim of a sexual assault calls the hotline, on the other line is a victim advocate. Victim advocates are available by phone 24/7. Any phone call made to the hotline is free and confidential. Victim advocates provide immediate telephone crisis intervention that includes safety planning. No matter what the language barrier might be, help is available in all languages. It is up to the victim what the next steps will be and the victim advocate can be there to help someone navigate those options without ever having to tell personal information.

What is a victim advocate and how are they different from anyone else involved in the case?

A victim advocate’s purpose is to provide emotional support to the victim, as well as information about resources, while the victim is in a medical setting. Victim advocates also serve as a liaison, helping the victim and anyone who may have come with her/him understand the medical and legal processes that occur while the victim is in the medical setting. Our victim advocates value and maintain the victim’s privacy and confidentiality except if they are informed of potential threat to the life of the victim or others and/or if they have reason to believe that a child, a disabled person or an elderly person is being abused and/or harmed. In such cases, the advocate is obligated by law to report the information to the appropriate authorities.

What if a victim wants evidence gathered, but does not want to make a police report? Or what happens if they have not made up their mind about making a police report about the assault?

If the victim is an adult, they do not necessarily have to report the assault at all. Some people wait to report the assault later, and some people never report. But if a victim would like evidence gathered and they’re still not sure if reporting is right decision for them, the law allows adult sexual assault victims to obtain a medical forensic exam without making a police report. This is also called a \”non-report\” exam. If the victim would like to not make a police report, the medical forensic exam will be completed up to 120 hours after the time of the assault. Evidence collected without an accompanying police report will be packaged and kept with the law enforcement agency. The time varies with each department on how long they can keep a kit. The time that a police department will hold onto the kit is on average 1 year.

Facts About the Gulf Coast Sexual Assault Program

What can GCSAP offer?

24/7 Crisis Hotline

  • Free and Confidential
  • Safety Planning
  • Crisis Intervention

Advocacy Services

  • Advocacy available for acute or historical cases of sexual assault
  • Forensic Medical accompaniment
  • Court hearings
  • Assist victims in applying for victims compensation
  • Community outreach and education
  • Law enforcement assistance
  • Crisis intervention
  • Support group

Therapy referrals

  • Forensic Services
  • Forensic examination
  • Emotional assessment
  • Written and electronic and photographic documentation
  • Collection and management of forensic sample
  • The SANE also testifies in any legal proceedings related to the examination
  • Ensures the proper chain of custody and integrity of the samples is maintained so that the evidence will be admissible in court


  • Safe Sips – Bystander intervention training for bars/restaurants
  • Safe Stays – State approved human trafficking awareness trainings for hotels and motels in Florida
  • Safe Snips – human trafficking awareness training for hair and nail salon professionals
  • Safe Smiles – human trafficking awareness training for dental offices

Therapy Services

  • Trauma-Informed Therapy
  • Art Therapy
  • Equine Therapy (Available in Circuit 14)
What insurance does GCSAP take?

100% Free. No insurance is required.

Who qualifies for the services?

Anyone who has been affected by sexual violence regardless of age, gender, or orientation, including family members of a victim (secondary victims of sexual assault).

Does a victim of GCSAP have to participate in all the services that are available?
No! All services are voluntary and a client can choose to participate at a later date.
Does a victim have to file a police report to receive services?

No! All services are available regardless of the outcome of a case or if someone chooses to not file.

What is Crime Victims Compensation?

Victims of violent crime, their families, or others who have taken on crime-related costs on behalf of a victim, apply for compensation.