Many victims of in-flight sexual assault (including battery, groping, molestation, indecent exposure, or unwanted touching) are unsure if their experience qualifies as assault, and struggle with reconciling their reactions during and after the experience. To help clarify:

The term “sexual assault” generally means unwanted sexual contact, or in other words sexual contact against your will, and without consent. Sexual assault is any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient. Falling under the definition of sexual assault are sexual activities as fondling, molestation, groping, forced sexual intercourse, forcible sodomy, child molestation, incest, fondling, and attempted rape.

Sexual assault or rape may happen to anyone, including women, men, children, elderly, straight or gay.

Common Reactions to Sexual Assault May Include:

  • Shock, disbelief, numbness, or a feeling of paralysis
  • Intense emotions; anger, fear, anxiety, depression
  • Extreme worries about safety
  • Inability to remember details about the assault
  • Difficulties sleeping, nightmares; fear of the dark
  • Feelings of being “damaged” or violated
  • Memories of previous trauma

If you have experienced unwanted violations of your personal, sexual space in any form while on an airplane, please report it to the FBI as soon as possible. Click over to our Resource Center for information about how to contact your local authorities, as well as links to help you find emotional support.