Sexual Assault; Know Your Rights

By Gladis Rodriguez

As difficult as sexual assault is, emotionally it can also be tolling if you're not correctly informed about your rights. In the state of Tennessee rape and sexual assault is defined as any forced penetration or any other sexual act the victim did not give formal consent to. Tennessee law states, a Victim must have full consciousness and not be under the influence in any way, sexual acts must not be completed by fraud and, victim must not be mentally incapacitated or physically helpless.” If the crime is accomplished by force, coercion, or victim is believed to be under the influence, Tennessee law states that a victim cannot consent to sex due to being mostly unconscious and unable to make decisions on their own. Furthermore, if statutory rape results in pregnancy and the victim is seen as unfit to care for the child, the perpetrator by law can fight for custody. In court, although the perpetrator can have rape and sexual assault charges, if the court rules that they are fit to care for the child, full custody can be given. Therefore, the victim would have to go to court to appeal for visitations or partial custody. A RAINN stands for Rape, Abuse And Incest National Network, which is a website and hotline that informs people on sexual abuse laws, all their information is confidential unless the victim is in absolute danger. When RAINN receives a call they do not ask for a name, they offer the services of support, information, advice or a referral. If you choose the referral based on your state they will transfer you to your specific center. For Tennessee, RAINN transfers you to The Sexual Assault Center Of East Tennessee. These resources can help a sexual assault victim feel protected and heard even if the victim chooses not to talk to the people around them. It is important to be informed about what your rights are and how to protect yourself and your confidentiality.

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