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About Sexual Assault

Definitions

Sexual assault
Any sexual act perpetrated against another person's will, forcibly or through coercive actions, or not forcibly or against the person's will but where the victim is incapable of giving full consent (they are unconscious - drug or alcohol induced, they have a mental impairment, etc). Sexual assault includes forced physical contact of an intimate part of the body that is sexual in nature. This may include the unwanted touching, directly on skin or through clothing, of an intimate part of another person which includes the genitalia area or sexual organs, the groin, the buttocks and/or the breasts with one's body or with an object for the purpose of arousing or gratifying one's own sexual desire or for the purpose of causing physical or emotional harm. Forced contact may include physical violence, physical coercion or manipulation, threat of physical harm or injury, or the intentional use of substances including alcohol, the use of GHB, Rohypnol, Ketamine or other "date rape" drugs, to create a defenseless victim.

Rape
Any act of forced sexual intercourse requiring penetration of the genitals, anus or mouth, however slight, that is perpetrated against a person's will by means of force, violence, coercion, duress, menace, the fear of immediate physical harm, or through manipulation. Rape may include the non-consensual penetration of the genitals, anus or mouth of one by the genitals or fingers of another, or by an instrument used by another person. This may include vaginal intercourse, anal intercourse (sodomy), oral sex, or non-consensual sexual penetration of genital or anal openings by a foreign object, including a finger. Non-consensual sexual intercourse may take many forms including, but not limited to, rape by a stranger, an acquaintance, friend, classmate, boyfriend/ex-boyfriend, husband, while on a date, rape by multiple perpetrators (often referred to as "gang rape") and may occur both on and off campus.

Acquaintance rape
Any act of sexual intercourse (requiring penetration, however slight, of the genitals, anus, or mouth of one by the genitals or fingers of another, or by an instrument used by another person) occurring against a person's will by means of force, violence, duress, or fear of bodily injury. Often these sexual acts are accomplished through the use of coercive actions including manipulation, pressuring, alcohol or date rape drugs. These sexual activities are perpetrated by someone the victim knows such as a friend, date, acquaintance, or classmate. According to RAINN (2007) there are three stages of acquaintance rape.

The three stages of acquaintance rape are

  1. Intrusion - Includes violations of the victim's personal space and level of comfort through "accidental" touching, inappropriate stares or through unsolicited personal revelations.
  2. Desensitization - The victim no longer feels threatened or uncomfortable with the offender. The victim discounts any feelings of discomfort he/she may still have and dismisses feelings of uneasiness as unwarranted.
  3. Isolation - The offender uses victim's trust to isolate him/her from others.

Male sexual assault
Sexual assault is a gender neutral term with both male and female perpetrators and male and female victims. Sexual assault is defined as any unwanted sexual contact committed by the use of force, threat of force or bodily injury, manipulation, coercion, or under circumstances when the victim was unable to grant consent to sexual activity such as an underage or intoxicated individual. . Male sexual assault can include unwanted touching, fondling, or groping of a male's body including the penis, scrotum or buttocks, even through his clothes. A specific type of male sexual assault, male rape, involves forced oral or anal sex, with penetration, however slight, of the anus or mouth with a body part or any other object or instrument used.

Although both males and females can sexually assault men, most sexual assaults are perpetrated by heterosexual men, against men. Simply because a male-on-male sexual assault occurs, in no way does this imply that one or both of the male individuals is/are gay. As in the case of male perpetrated sexual assault upon a female, sexual assault incidents are not about sexual desire or sexual orientation. Sexual assault is a crime of violence, control, and domination.

Stranger rape
Defined as forced sexual penetration, however, slight perpetrated by someone who is unknown to you. Often times, stranger rapes involve the use of force or threat of force and the presence of a weapon.

Gang rape
Defined as forced sexual intercourse (including vaginal, anal or oral penetration, however slight) by a body part or an object of another person, usually perpetrated by more than one, including multiple assailants.

Same-sex rape
Defined as forced sexual intercourse (including vaginal, anal or oral penetration, however slight) by a body part or an object of another person by someone of the same sex.

LGBT victims of sexual assault confront the same issues as any sexual assault victim, and have the same emotional, physical and psychological reactions as victims in the heterosexual community. In addition, LGBT victims of sexual assault must also deal with unique issues which include:

  • There is often a tendency to blame their victimization on their sexual orientation.
  • Reporting is deterred by concerns about being "outed". This is referred to as heterosexist control and involves threats to reveal lesbian or gay identity to family, neighbors, employers, ex-spouses, government authorities, etc.
  • HIV-related abuse involves threatening to reveal HIV status to others. Blaming partner for having HIV. Withholding medical or social services.

Consent
Consent is a conscious and freely given voluntary agreement that two people must make if they want to engage in any form of sexual activity. According to Texas state law, there is no implied consent. Consent is a major issue in defining sexual assault. Prior to engaging in any form of sexual intimacy, you must be certain that the person to whom you are making sexual advances is of sound mind, is fully cognizant of the situation and surroundings, and is voluntarily participating during all stages of sexual contact. The issue of consent can be a complicated and ambiguous area that needs to be addressed with clear, open, and honest communication. The manner of dress of the victim at the time of the offense shall not constitute consent.

  • Consent is based on choice.
  • Consent is freely given.
  • Consent is an active and voluntary agreement, it is not passive.
  • Consent is not implied, but is given with the word YES.
  • Consent is possible only when there is equal power.
  • Consent is possible only when you are of sound mind.
  • Giving in because of fear is not consent.
  • Sexual activity and intimacy must be consensual.
  • The best precaution to take prior to sexual activity is to FREELY GAIN CONSENT!
  • Without consent, it’s sexual assault!
  • Visit www.consentissexy.org for more information.

Coercion
Coercion transpires when sexual activity occurs devoid of legal and appropriate consent. Sexual coercion is defined as the use of manipulation, intimidation or threat to force someone to have sex.

Behaviors that constitute coercion, lack consent, and sexual assault may include:

  • Touching another person without consent
  • Initiating any sexual contact without explicit permission and/or without explicit awareness of what the other person wants
  • Pursuing sexual intimacy despite mixed signals from the other person
  • Sexual contact with someone who is drunk or on drugs or otherwise unable to give consent
  • Engaging in sexual activity with someone who is mentally incompetent or in an altered state of consciousness
  • Engaging in sexually activity with someone who is not of legal age
  • Don't think you can claim you were drunk and didn't know what you were doing if you commit an act of sexual assault—you will be held accountable for your conduct

Statistics

"College campuses host large concentrations of young women who are at greater risk for rape and other forms of sexual assault than women in the general population or in a comparable age group." (NIJ, 2000)

  • Young women 16-24 years of age are 4 times more likely to experience a completed rape when compares to any other age group (Rennison, 2001)
  • Women are at greatest risk of sexual assault during their first 3 months on campus
  • For a campus with 10,000 women (UTA has over 10,000 females) the number of rapes could exceed 350 per year (Fisher, Cullen & Turner, 2000)

Prevalence and Incidence

  • 1 in 4 college women will be sexually assaulted during their educational career
  • 90% of sexual assault victims are female and 10% are male
  • About 44% of rape victims are under age 18, and 80% are under age 30 (RAINN, 2007)
  • According to the NVC, there may be 683,000 completed rapes each year in the US
  • Over 75% of victims knew their attacker (USDOJ)
  • Every 2 minutes someone is sexually assaulted (RAINN, 2007)
  • 60% of acquaintance rapes on college campuses occur in casual or steady dating relationships (Johnson & Sigler 1996)

Sexual Assault in Texas

  • 1 in 5 women report being the victim of a sexual assault (TAASA, 2007)
  • 1 in 20 men report being the victim of sexual assault (TAASA, 2007)
  • Around 20% of all rapes are reported to the police (TAASA, 2007)
  • Over 75% of sexual assault incidents involve the use of alcohol and/or drugs

Checklists for Assisting Someone in Need

Sexual Assault

Intimate Partner Violence

Stalking

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