Sexual Assault

What is Sexual Assault? 

Sexual assault is any actual or attempted sexual intercourse or sexual contact with another individual without affirmative consent. Sexual intercourse can involve anal, oral, or vaginal penetration, no matter how slight, with a body part (penis, tongue/mouth, finger, hand) or object. Sexual intercourse without affirmative consent is rape, which is a form of sexual assault. Sexual contact in this context is defined as intentionally and for no legitimate purpose touching the sexual or other intimate parts of another person for the purpose of degrading or abusing such a person or for gratifying sexual desires; causing another person to touch one’s intimate parts or disrobing or exposure of another without permission. Intimate parts include breasts, genitals, buttocks, groin, mouth or any other part of the body that is touched in a sexual manner. 

Intoxication of the initiator is not an excuse or defense to sexually assault another person. 

Correcting Misconceptions

There are many different misconceptions that people might believe about sexual assault or sexual violence that are not true or supported by data, these misconceptions are called these rape myths. Below we have provided some factual information and data to correct these myths. 

  • FACT: People assault people. Sexual Assault or sexual violence can happen to people of all gender identities, we know that men, women, and transgender or non-binary individuals can all be victims/survivors of sexual assault. It is also possible for all gender identities to be perpetrators or offenders of sexual assault. To be more explicit, men can assault women, men can assault men, women can assault men, women can assault women, and individuals that identify as transgender, non-binary or another gender identity can also be perpetrators or victims/survivors of sexual assault. Those that identify as transgender, non-binary or other gender identity are much more likely to be victims/survivors of sexual assault. 
  • FACT: The only person(s) responsible for sexual assault or sexual violence are the individuals that perpetrated. They are solely responsible for not receiving affirmative consent.
  • FACT: Among college students about 80% of sexual assaults are perpetrated by someone known to the victim/survivor (Sinozich, 2014). This could be a partner, friend, classmate, family member or other acquaintance. 
  • FACT: Alcohol is the most commonly used substance by perpetrators or offenders to incapacitate individuals, or take advantage of individuals that are incapatiated. It does not matter whether the victim/survivor is willingingly using alcohol or other substances or if it was given to them without their consent, if an indivual is incapacitated they cannot consent and is never responsible. This is one of the reasons that the Amnesty Policy is so important – this policy is designed to protect individuals that have experienced sexual violence when they have been using alcohol or other substances (willingly or unwillingly)

Sinozich, S., & Langton, L. (2014). Rape and sexual assault victimization among college-age females, 1995–2013 (NCJ 248471). U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics: