Is this sexual assault?

i’ll keep this short because i don’t really like talking about it.

is it considered sexual assault if someone touches your butt and you say not to and they continue to do it? this was also done by a family member, so i don’t know if it changes things. i also know they were doing it to be aggressive towards me because they have a history of hitting and being violent towards me, but i don’t know if that specifically counts as sexual assault or harassment.

(happened both as an adult and a minor)

to clarify, i’m not trying to poke fun at people who have gone through sexual assault. i’ve actually gone through it too (not this specific story, a different one). i’m just questioning literally everything i’ve ever gone through and it kinda sucks honestly.

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Hi, Limeytea. I can’t say if it constitutes sexual assault, but it is definitely a violation of your boundaries.

“Sexual assault” is pretty hefty accusation (the kind that can ruin lives), and so personally I shy away from the label. If I look back on my life I can remember plenty of awkward social encounters and flirting that could be interpreted as sexual assault/harassment (both the other people and me being considered the “harrasser.”) I don’t personally consider myself to have ever experienced “sexual assault” even though there have been several people in my past who I have felt exceptionally uncomfortable around. There have been people who didn’t take my “no” seriously or considered it a joke to ignore it.

The reason I don’t consider it sexual assault though is because when I look back at those times in my life, I had not yet developed the skill of defining and enforcing my boundaries. I was uncomfortable, yes, and many times, I even said something along the lines of “stop it.” However, I always delivered it in kind of a wishy-washy way… The trailing, whiny “staaaaph…” The leaning away or avoiding eye contact and just hoping that they’d pick up on the fact that I didn’t like it and stop. I was afraid of hurting others’ feelings or getting into a fight, so I subconsciously decided to be uncomfortable instead of risking conflict. The thing is though, I can’t really fault someone for not being able to read my mind…

Should it be enough to say “please don’t do that?” Yes, absolutely. In reality though, it’s often not enough. I obviously don’t know how you tried to define and enforce your boundaries with this person. Did they do something wrong by ignoring your protests? Absolutely, yes. They were wrong. If it were me though, I’d consider how clear I was in saying “no” before I started seeing myself as a victim. Your boundaries were violated, and that does feel gross and uncomfortable. However, there is absolutely nothing you can do to change what happened in the past. What you can do is consider how you could better define and enforce your boundaries next time someone encroaches upon them.

If this is someone you have to live with, yeah, it does change things a bit. You said it happened as an adult and as a minor… Hopefully you don’t have to live with them anymore now that you are an adult. Leaving is, hands down, the strongest way to enforce your physical boundaries. When you were a child, you likely didn’t have that option.

I can understand completely how someone touching your butt would make you feel uncomfortable. Just the idea of anyone other than my partner touching my butt makes me uncomfortable. I had a group of online friends a few years ago who made a big joke about butt touches when they’d meet up at conventions… I never went to a convention or met them in person, but when they’d start joking about wanting to meet me and how they’d give me “a butt touch,” I felt super uncomfortable. At first I treated it somewhat jokingly, saying things a bit passively like: “Please don’t touch my butt! :anguished:” Note the emoji. I meant to kind of soften/avoid the conflict, but in reality it just diluted the seriousness of my protest. The butt touching jokes continued and even escalated for a while until finally one day, it was enough. I was fed up.

I was streaming live on Twitch when one of these friends started joking in chat about how they wanted to meet me at a convention so they could touch my butt. I stopped playing my game, went to full screen camera, looked dead straight into the camera and addressed this friend by name.

“[Friend], I would absolutely love to meet you in person one day. If we ever do meet, I would love to give you a hug, but I do not want you or anyone else touching my butt. If you attempt to touch my butt, I will physically jump away to avoid the contact, then I’ll tell you one more time that I am serious when I say I don’t want you to touch my butt. If you try again to touch my butt, then I will simply leave you where you stand, and I will not spend any more time with you. I do NOT want you touching me like that, and I do NOT want to even joke about butt touching. If you make one more joke about touching my butt, I will ban you from my channel and block you on other social media sites.”

It worked! I had very clearly described my boundaries and what the consequences would be for violating those boundaries, and that friend never joked about touching my butt again. It worked so well, that I had that same exact conversation with every single friend who tried to joke about butt touching, and one by one, all of my friends finally got the message and stopped joking about it with me. Funnily enough, I think a lot of them were uncomfortable with this joking because I noticed they stopped joking about it, not only with me, but even with each other.

So this was a very long-winded way for me to say that in my experience, I’ve found I’m best served by using my time and energy to control what is in my power instead of focusing on how others should behave.


i do still have to live with this person, yes, and they’ve physically hit me in other places after i’ve told them to stop, so i don’t think they care about anything i tell them. and it wasn’t me joking or anything, i always said it seriously and told them i was uncomfortable. i make my boundaries clear with them and they choose to violate it, literally all the time, it’s just even weirder when they go for my butt. my family has a weird thing where they like to touch each other’s butt and i’ve told them several times it makes me uncomfortable to participate in and they specifically do it again because i tell them no (but that’s with everything really). so maybe they didn’t mean it in a sexual way, but i compare that part of my body to the front part so it’s different in my mind and seems inherently sexual. so maybe it’s not “sexual” (at least not to them) but they physically violate my boundaries in violent ways often. i don’t exactly know what to do about that.

also, i wouldn’t say that not saying it outright and not saying no as strongly wouldn’t make it sexual assault, i think it still does. some people physically fear for their lives or are drunk :confused: so it’s just different i’d say. in my experience, i tried to say that i didn’t want it, but i was overpowered and the person didn’t care what i said. also i was very scared so idk. it can sound sorta like victim blaming when you phrase it like that. not trying to attack or anything, that’s just how it came off to me.

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Thank you for sharing a bit more about the situation, Limey. I did not mean to dismiss your feelings or experience in any way. All I can speak on is my own experiences in my own life, and personally I choose to look inward a lot of the time. You specifically asked if it was sexual assault, and personally, I just don’t think I can make that judgment for you. I do believe “no” should be enough, and I am in no way trying to imply that any of the abuse you have suffered is your fault. It’s not your fault.

I’d love to be able to offer you some story to help you feel empowered or in control, but it sounds like your situation is definitely much different than anything I’ve ever encountered. It sounds really difficult, and it sounds like a situation no one should be forced to live with. As much as I wish I could help, I don’t have the proper training or knowledge to do so. I can however point you towards some folks who are trained to help in situations like yours:

National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline
1-800-656-HOPE (4673)

National Domestic Violence Hotline

You should not have to live with people who abuse you. Their mistreatment of you and blatant disregard for your personal boundaries is wrong and inexcusable. I don’t know how to help you escape, but I do hope these phone numbers might help. :heart:

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i’m really sorry about that, i wasn’t trying to make you feel bad about what you said or your experiences. thank you so much for responding to me and thank you for the resources!


There’s no need to apologize, Limey. You did absolutely nothing wrong! In fact, I should be thanking you! Thank you for taking a risk and telling me how my response affected you. Thank you for assuming that I was trying to help and giving me the opportunity to state my thoughts more clearly. Thank you for taking the time to explain more about your particular situation and trusting me in spite of feeling threatened. I truly do hope you find a path forward, through and past the abuse. Stay strong, and if you ever need an ear, I’m not perfect, but I’m here and willing to listen. :heart:


thank you so much for that, it means a lot❤️

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Hey @limeytea,

is it considered sexual assault if someone touches your butt and you say not to and they continue to do it?

Well, for an official answer, it depends on where you live and what says the law. It can be different from one country to another - or even one state to another. I know for example that where I live (not US) what you describe is indeed a sexual assault - legally speaking. Now to have an indication in regards of the law itself, you can probably get more informations with the numbers that @Squints_a_lot provided, or even - there’s an online chat if needed (if you’re in US, otherwise let us know and we can check on other resources). The people working in these organizations are likely to provide you with the right informations about this specific question, because they received the right formation/training, or even because sometimes they work in hand with lawyers specialized in these kind of violences.

Also, beyond any legal definition, what matters is how you feel about it. There’s the official definition, but it can become very technical with specific criterias. And those criterias may not make sense to you right now. So there’s also your definition, how you perceive this moment and how it impacts you. I am aware that you mentioned and shared before things that you’ve been through. And it’s absolutely normal to question everything, to think about what happened and to try to labelize it. It helps to make sense of a situation that doesn’t seem to have any. Like when we’re sick and we need a diagnosis to understand what’s going on, so we know which actions we can take with the means that we have. I’ve been through this process in regards of sexual assaults. Re-reading my own story. It was hard to admit that I was sexually assaulted as a kid, because I didn’t have the right vocabulary and knowledge at the moment. And even as a young adult, it was hard for my mind to actually associate those two things (my experience, and the words “sexual assault”) as being the same thing. But it does help to understand and put a word on what happened.

Again I think how you feel has also a major importance :heart:. And trying to understand what happened, like you’re doing, is certainly a good step for yourself - even if not an easy one.

In any case, I am really sorry this happened, friend. It shouldn’t. You said no and that should be enough.
Know that not matter what, you are you, and you are enough as you are.
Sending love. :heart:


thank you so much for replying, it really means a lot. being heard made me feel a bit better about the whole thing. everything’s really difficult right now, but having people talk me through it helps.

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just wanted to say thank you for sending me this number, after going through many phone calls and being transferred to a lot of people (lol) i found an organization that is going to help me with shelter. i’m not 100% of getting my hopes up, but it really seems like things are going to be looking up.


That is AMAZING news, Limey! I’m so happy to hear there’s a light at the end of the tunnel! I can imagine this is both exciting and scary for you. Lean on us here at Heart Support as much as you need. :heart: