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What Is Sexual Assault

Sexual assault is:

  • Sexual contact without a person’s consent. It covers a range of acts from unwanted touching and fondling to attempted and completed rape. What these acts have in common is a lack of consent.

  • Occurs when a person is unable to consent; when he or she is forced, threatened, intimidated or physically or mentally incapacitated. Alcohol or drug intoxication can produce such a state of incapacitation. 

  • Rape is sexual intercourse without a person’s consent. It includes vaginal, anal or oral penetration with either a body part or an object.

  • Sexual assault is a crime. It is a crime of power, not lust, and it is intended to hurt, control, and humiliate another person.

  • Sexual assault is most often perpetrated by someone known to the victim—an acquaintance, friend, date, classmate, coworker, or intimate partner. About 90% of sexual assaults on college students are committed by someone the victim knows.¹


 ¹Fisher, S., Cullen, F., Turner, M., 2000. The Sexual Victimization of College Women. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice.