Sexual Assault Information
Sexual Assault Resources
Definitions of sexual assault may differ by state laws and university policies. The below definitions are meant to serve as basic guidelines. Survivors wishing to pursue legal action against their attackers should contact an attorney for state specific legal definitions.
Acquaintance rape: Forced, manipulated, or coerced sexual contact by someone a victim knows. A survivor may have been acquainted with the perpetrator for a short period of time or may have known them for several years. Acquaintance rape is the most common form of sexual assault on college campuses.
Stranger rape: Unwanted sex forced on a victim by an assailant whom the victim has never met.
Sexual Assault: Conduct of a sexual or indecent nature toward another person that is accompanied by actual or threatened physical force or that induces fear, shame, or mental suffering. Includes any form of sexual conduct that is not consented to by both parties.
Unwanted Sexual Contact & Misconduct: Any unwanted sex act that includes unwanted touching, gestures and/or comments. This also includes posting inappropriate pictures on websites or online profiles and voyeurism (videotaping someone without their consent).
Intimate Partner Violence: The Family Violence Prevention Fund defines intimate partner violence as a continuum of behaviors ranging from verbal and emotional abuse, economic exploitation, threats, sexual and physical assaults and homicide. These behaviors happen repeatedly and without proper intervention may result in death. (www.endabuse.org).
Stalking: Stalking is a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear. Stalking can take place in person, over the phone, on the internet, or any other form of contact. Stalking is serious, often violent, and can escalate over time. No two stalking situations are alike.
If you are being stalked on campus and the perpetrator is located outside of the District of Columbia, you still have rights and can file for an Order of Protection. For more information, contact Judicial Affairs and Mediation Services at (202) 885-3328 or SAFE, Inc. at (202) 879-7851
For more information on stalking, and to find more support resources, go to the National Center for Victims of Crime Stalking Resource Center.
The Student Conduct Code also defines “consent” as “words or conduct that indicates a freely given agreement to have sexual intercourse or to participate in sexual activities. Sexual contact will be considered ‘without consent’ if no clear consent, verbal or nonverbal, is given; if inflicted through force, threat of force, or coercion; or if inflicted upon a person who is unconscious or who otherwise reasonably appears to be without the mental or physical capacity to consent.”
Things to think about. Consent takes different forms in different relationships. Some attributes generally associated with consent follow. They may help you think about your own and your partner’s behavior in intimate situations or situations that might become intimate. What they have in common is that they are grounded in an attitude of respect.
- Consent is informed and clear. Parties must be able to communicate effectively and agree on the type of sexual activities that will be shared. If a person has a sexually transmittable disease, that should be disclosed to a partner before engaging in sexual activity.
- Consent is essential each time sexual activity occurs and/or escalates. During or prior to any sexual activity, each partner has the right to withdraw consent at any time. Consent to one type of sexual activity does not imply consent to other forms of sexual activities.
- Consent is a free choice only if it has been granted without the use of force?real or perceived, threats, intimidation, or coercion.
- Consent cannot be construed from a partner’s silence.
- Consent cannot be assumed based on a previous or current sexual relationship with the person who initiates the sexual activity.
- Consent is not implicit in a person’s manner of dress or physical appearance.
- Consent is not implicit in acceptance of an invitation for a meal or date.
- Consent is not achievable if a partner is or appears to be under the influence of a controlled or intoxicating substance, whether or not that substance was consumed willingly.
Harm Reduction Information
No matter what, sexual assault is never the survivor's fault. While some safety strategies, such as traveling in groups and trusting your instincts, can help reduce your likeliness of being a victim of any crime, the only person that can prevent sexual assault is the perpetrator.
- Be aware of your surroundings at all times.
- Trust your instincts. If the situation doesn't feel right, it probably isn't. Confront the person immediately or leave.
- Don't allow yourself to be isolated with someone you don't know or trust.
- Know how you're getting home from a social event. If the friend or group of friends you were planning on walking with have already left call Public Safety at (202) 885-2527, and they will send a taxi for you. If you don’t have money with you at the time, your student account will be charged, or you can pay later.
- Be cautious of fellow students that you just met or only consider an acquaintance. Unfortunately, the people we trust the most can be the most hurtful. It is important to be aware and vigilant with everyone you encounter.
- Remember that alcohol and other drugs can interfere with your ability to communicate effectively and deal with potentially dangerous situations. Be responsible in your decision-making with regard to alcohol and drugs.
- Think about what your sexual limits are, and be prepared to communicate them directly.
- Be aware of sex-role stereotypes that prevent you from acting as you want to, such as a woman not being able to initiate sexual activity or a man not being able to say "no."