Text Size Default Text SizeDefault Text Size Large Text SizeLarge Text Size Largest Text SizeLargest Text Size Print Print this Page

What is Sexual Assault?

Sexual assault can happen to ANYONE, ANYWHERE, ANYTIME.

However, women in the 16-24 year-old age group are more likely to be victims and men in this age group are more likely to be perpetrators. National studies reveal that 20-25% of college women have experienced forced sex. Most knew their attackers. It is also important to remember that men are also victims of sexual assault. An estimated 10% of men will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime.

Sexual assault has a wide range of forms, from voyeurism to public indecency to rape. Major types of sexual assaults are:

  • Sexual Imposition -- unwanted touching of a person's erogenous zones for the purpose of sexual gratification. Think of erogenous zones as anything a bathing suit covers, but unwanted touching of other areas may also be considered sexual imposition.
  • Gross Sexual Imposition -- Unwanted touching when force or threat of force is used or when the victim is unable to give consent.
  • Rape -- oral, anal, or genital intercourse with an unwilling victim through force or threat of force or when the victim is unable to give consent. Rape includes attempted rape and rape with an object.

Note that consent is a major issue in defining sexual assault, particularly when the two people involved know each other.

What Constitutes Consent?

  • Both you and your partner are fully conscious and unimpaired by alcohol or any other substances, legal or illegal.
  • Both you and your partner are free to act and understand there will not be any real or perceived negative consequences for saying "No".
  • Both you and your partner have positively and clearly communicated your intent.
  • Both you and your partner are positive and sincere in your desires and these desires are reciprocally understood.

Note also that resistance is not necessary in order to prove non-consent. When one or both individuals have been drinking and/or using drugs, consent becomes even more complicated. Legally, intoxication is not a defense against sexual assault, and non-consent is assumed if a person has been drinking to the point where their ability to consent is impaired.

What is Acquaintance Rape?

Acquaintance rape is sexual assault that occurs between individuals who know each other. Within the context of the often confused personal and sexual relationships between partners, it's difficult for many people to label it correctly, but acquaintance rape is a crime! And it is no less a crime simply because the perpetrator has a familiar face.

Myth vs Reality


Myth Reality
Rape is committed by crazed strangers. Most women are raped by "normal" acquaintances.
A woman who gets raped deserves it, especially if she agreed to go to the man's house or ride in his car. No one, male or female, deserves to be raped. Being in a man's house or car does not mean a woman has agreed to have sex with him.
Women who don't fight back haven't been raped. You have been raped when you are forced to have sex against your will, whether you fight back or not.
If there's no gun or knife, you haven't been raped. It's rape whether the rapist uses a weapon or their fists, verbal threats, drugs or alcohol, physical isolation, your own diminished physical or mental state, or simply the weight of their body to overcome you.
It's not really rape if the victim isn't a virgin. Rape is rape, even if the person isn't a virgin, even if they willingly had sex with the person before.
If a woman lets a man buy her dinner or pay she owes him sex. No one owes sex as a payment for a movie or drinks, no matter how expensive the date.
Agreeing to kiss means that you agreed to have sex. Everyone has the right to say "No," and to have that "No" respected; regardless of any previous intercourse.
When men are sexually aroused, they need to have sex or they will get "blue balls."  Also, once they get turned on, men can't help themselves.   Men don't physically need to have sex after becoming aroused any more than women do. Moreover, men are still able to control themselves from forcing sex on someone even after becoming sexually excited.