The integration of technology into every facet of life has created a plethora of new channels for sexual expression and interaction. Sexting is a common practice in most relationships, especially among the college demographic, and Skype sex allows long distance couples to maintain a level of sexual intimacy when physical intimacy is unavailable. Snapchat has also become a promiscuous platform because, hey, the pictures disappear forever! They can’t come back to haunt you, right?
However, this also means that there are more avenues for sexual assault.
Sexual assault is unwanted sexual contact; it’s as simple as that. It doesn’t matter if that contact takes the form of a casual uninvited butt grab, violent sexual acts or an uninvited dick pic.
Technology gives us a buffer. When you send someone a text, you don’t have to deal with the immediate consequences. You are detached from witnessing the person’s immediate emotional reactions and therefore it is easier to harm someone.
Because of this, such platforms cater to emotional and mental abuse and often this abuse requires little to no energy on the offender’s side. The offender can send something truly damaging with the touch of a thumb and then forget about what they did with ease.
As April is sexual assault awareness month, I urge you to broaden your definition of sexual assault to account for all of these new modes of harm. If something sexual makes you feel uncomfortable, it’s sexual assault regardless of its form. Don’t disregard a text that you received that made you uncomfortable just because it was a text. Equally important, if someone you know expresses that they’ve experienced unwanted sexual contact via a technological platform, don’t discredit them. Treat the instance like you would a physical assault and give them the support they need.