Sexual Violence Resources
What is Sexual Violence?
Sexual violence includes any sexual acts that are done without the person’s consent.
This can include rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment, child sexual abuse, sexting & sextortion, and human trafficking.
What is Consent?
Simply put, consent is permission. It is also:
Clear: If someone is not sure, they should ask to clarify. Not saying no or staying silent does not meant there is consent.
Coherent: Someone needs to know what they are giving permission to do. If they are under the influence or have an intellectual disability, they may not be able to consent.
Voluntary: Both parties should be enthusiastic and want the act to happen. No one should feel pressured or forced.
Ongoing: Consent has to be given every time and can be taken away at any time. Everyone has the right to change their mind.
Specific: Consent must be given for every act. Just because a person agrees to one act does not mean they are agreeing to every sexual act.
What Are The Laws Around Age and Consent?
Laws around age and consent vary by state. The following is specific only to Pennsylvania. For information about your state, visit the resources at the bottom of this page.
The age of consent in Pennsylvania is 16.
This means that individuals who are 16 and older are legally able to consent to sexual activity with anyone else ages 16 and older.
However, there are some other important things to know when it comes to age and consent:
Children ages 12 and younger cannot consent to any sexual activities.
Statutory Sexual Assault: Youth ages 13 to 15 are covered by an exception sometimes referred to as the Romeo and Juliet exception. This means that if they are 13 to 15, they can legally consent to sexual activities as long as the other person is not 4 or more years older. If the other person is 4 or more years older, it is considered Statutory Sexual Assault, regardless if there was otherwise consent.
*Sex with a minor, under the age of 18, may still be considered illegal and reportable as child abuse if they were forced, pressured, under the influence, or otherwise unable to consent.
What is Sexting and Sextortion?
Sexting is any sexually explicit message, video, or image that is sent electronically. Sexting is illegal when it involves:
- Child Pornography: The person in the video or image is a minor.
- Corruption of a Minor: When an image is sent by an individual who is ages 18 or older to a minor.
- Sextortion: When an individual is pressured or threatened into sending sexually explicit images or videos or when the individual is blackmailed using sexually explicit images or videos of themselves.
- Revenge Pornography: When an image or video is distributed, without the consent of the individual, as a form of revenge.
Who is Affected By Sexual Violence?
Sexual Violence does not discriminate. It can happen to anyone regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, religion, socio-economic class, ability, and immigration status.
Read statistics about sexual violence and who is affected here.
Below are some resources on Sexual Violence and related topics:
Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape
National Sexual Violence Resource Center