Sexually Transgressive Behavior & Violence

The problems of Sexually Transgressive Behavior and Sexual Violence are alarmingly prevalent. In the worst cases we are dealing with assault, rape and sexual abuse. Thanks to movements like #MeToo these problems are fortunately getting increased attention and exposure. This is a heavy subject, but the more people that dare to open up about it, the more awareness will increase, and the sooner these problems can start being addressed.

Sexually Transgressive behavior is about an approach or behavior that is sexual in nature, and goes beyond the limits of the victim. This does not have to be a physical event.
With sexual violence, the aggressor uses force, physical or otherwise, to commit a sexual act with the victim without their consent.

Numbers & Facts

Numbers for the prevalence of these severe problems differ between countries, but in all places, these numbers are often much higher than most people may be aware of. According to current research for The Netherlands, 53% of female correspondents and 19% of men have had to deal with sexually transgressive behavior. For sexual violence this is 22% of women, and 6% of men (17.000 correspondents, Rutgers 2017). These numbers are alarmingly high.

The Consequences of Seksual Transgressive Behavior & Violence

The consequences of Sexually Transgressive Behavior & Sexual Violence are often severe, both in the short and long term. The consequences will be different from person to person. It will depend on the personality of the victim, and the circumstances of the violation. Age, duration and the number of people involved are also factors that play a role.

Some possible consequences of assault and rape are: bodily injury, physical complaints, internal bleeding, unwanted pregnancy, mental trauma, sexual transmitted diseases (STDs), psychological difficulties including PTSD, distrust, conflicts of loyalty, difficulty setting your borders, self-repulsion and susceptibility to addictions and depression. It will also have consequences for future relationships, because sex and intimacy will remain sensitive subjects.

What can you do if you have been a victim of sexual violence?

It is important to know that you are not alone. A large network of allies exists to help you. For direct help, there is the Dutch Sexual Assault Center. Other countries have their own Centers like this for you to contact. It is best that you do so within a week of the event. There will be a team of doctors, nurses, police, psychologists, social workers and sexologists ready to offer you assistance. Most centers like this will give you access to medication to prevent pregnancy and STD/HIV and will offer treatment if you are suffering pain or injuries. Beyond that, they can research for traces and document evidence, and assist.
The Dutch Sexual Assault Center is available night and day at 0800-0188.

Of making the step towards seeking professional help is too much (for now), there are communities where you can find aid and support. For The Netherlands there is community called Fellow Survivors Sexual Violence (Dutch only). Finding a community like this in your own language is recommended. On forums and chats in communities like this, you can get into anonymous contact with men and women that know what you are going through, through their own experiences.

They can offer you support, and help you get past feelings of shame and guilt, and help you in processing your experiences. This can help shrink the barrier to talk about what happened to you with your direct environment, or to find help and/or report what happened. Except contact with people that have shared similar experiences, you should also find more information about (the consequences and processing of) sexual violence, in these communities.

Definition of Terms

Transgressive behavior and sexual violence are often described separately from each other. Of course, sexual violence and all unwanted acts of a sexual nature fall under the descriptor Sexually Transgressive Behavior. They can however be separated according to severity and intensity.

Unwanted Behavior
You can initially be confronted with undesired remarks or inappropriate, unwanted or intimidating behavior. This is extremely bothersome, despite no touching taking place. Those confronted with this can feel uncomfortable, defensive, irritated, intimidated, belittled, insulted, lesser, weak, attacked, hurt or humiliated.

Unwanted touching, assault
If you are are being touched against your will on your breasts, butt or genital area, we are speaking about sexual assault. Assaults are all sexual acts that involve touch that do not involve penetration of the body.

Sexual violence and rape
Rape involves involuntarily penetration of a body. This can also be done with objects other than genitals.
Source: Jos Frenken "Strafbare seksualiteit en seksueel deviant gedrag: definities en prevalenties" in Tijdschrift voor Seksuologie, 2002, 26: 4-8

Sexual abuse
The term sexual abuse includes all forms of sex and sexually themed acts that take place against your will. This includes all forms of sexual assault and penetration, but also sexual acts performed for, or by, an observer, including in front of a webcam.

In these situation of abuse, often there are unequal positions of power and emotional pressure involved. Instead of by your own will or desire, there will be agreed to sexual acts out of feelings of fear, obligation, or feeling that you can’t say no without negative consequences. With sexual contact between adults and minors there is always an unequal position of power, and so this is always considered sexual abuse.