You are here

Oppression & Sexual Violence


Sexual violence is any type of unwanted sexual contact, ranging from sexist attitudes and actions to rape and murder.

Sexual violence can include words and actions of a sexual nature against a person's will.

A person may use

  • force
  • threats
  • manipulation
  • coercion to commit sexual violence

There is a social context that surrounds sexual violence.

Social norms that contribute to the occurrence of sexual violence:

  • condoning violence
  • using power over others
  • traditional constructs of masculinity
  • the subjugation of women
  • staying silent about violence and abuse

Oppression in all of its forms is among the root causes of sexual violence. Sexual violence is preventable through collaborations of community members at multiple levels of society—in our homes, neighborhoods, schools, faith settings, workplaces, and other settings. We all play a role in preventing sexual violence and establishing norms of respect, safety, equality, and helping others.

Sexual violence does not occur in isolation. Victims of sexual violence are affected by many forms of oppression, including racism, sexism, classism, heterosexism, ageism, ableism and others. These forms of oppression often compound the effects of sexual victimization, exacerbating the trauma and isolation victims and survivors experience. People of color; people living in poverty; lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people; elders; people with disabilities and other diverse persons are affected by sexual violence in unique and devastating ways.

Oppression is both a cause and effect of sexual violence.

Sexual violence is tied to inequality. People who commit sexual violence may target people who may have less power in the world. This can make it hard for a person to report sexual assault or get help.


How does literacy relate to sexual violence?

How are poverty and sexual violence related?

Learn more about Latin@ victims and sexual violence

Sexual abuse of those with disabilities

Learn more about elder abuse

Reaching migrant farm workers

Rape in prisons

Substance use and sexual violence

Sexual assault in the military