Rape and Sexual Assault

Sexual assault takes many forms including attacks such as rape or attempted rape, as well as any unwanted sexual contact or threats. Usually a sexual assault occurs when someone touches any part of another person’s body in a sexual way, even through clothes, without that person’s consent. Some types of sexual acts which fall under the category of sexual assault include forced sexual intercourse (rape), sodomy (oral or anal sexual acts), child molestation, incest, fondling and attempted rape. Sexual assault in any form is often a devastating crime. Assailants can be strangers, acquaintances, friends, or family members. Assailants commit sexual assault by way of violence, threats, coercion, manipulation, pressure or tricks.

Campus Sexual Assault Victim’s Bill of Rights

No one asks for or deserves to be sexually assaulted.

Sometimes, it can be difficult for survivors and supporters to understand what happened. Some common questions and concerns we hear about rape and sexual assault are below. Click the quote to read some thoughts about how a person may choose to re-frame and understand the experience.

I didn’t resist physically.

People respond to an assault in different ways. Many victims make the good judgment that physical resistance would cause the attacker to become more violent. Lack of consent can be expressed (e.g. saying no) or implied by the circumstances (e.g. if you are under the statutory age of consent, have a mental disability, or are afraid to object due to threats or physical harm).

I used to date the attacker.

Rape can occur when the offender and the victim have a preexisting relationship. This is sometimes called “date rape” or “acquaintance rape.” It can even happen when the offender is the victims spouse, “spousal rape.” It does not matter whether the perpetrator is an ex-boyfriend or a complete stranger. It doesn’t matter if you have had sex in the past. If it is non-consensual this time, it is rape.

I don’t remember the assault.

Just because you don’t remember being assaulted does not necessarily mean it did not happen and that it was not rape. Memory loss can result from the ingestion of date rape drugs or from excessive alcohol consumption. That said, without clear memories or physical evidence, it may not be possible to pursue prosecution.

I was asleep or unconscious when the assault occurred.

Rape can happen when the victim is unconscious or asleep. If you were asleep or unconscious, you did not give your consent. Without your consent, it is rape.

I or the perpetrator was drunk.

Alcohol and/or drugs are not an excuse or an alibi. The key question is still, “Did you consent or not?” Regardless of whether you were drunk or sober, if the sex was non-consensual, it is rape. However, because each state has different definitions for “non-consensual,” contact your local rape crisis center or local police department with questions. Ultimately, both people must be conscious and willing participants.

Click here to learn about the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Process at University Hospital ER (video)

Click here for a list of online resources regarding rape and sexual assault

Click here to learn about the MUPD self-defense class, RAD

Click here for the most recent Campus Crime and Fire Safety Report