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Sexual Assault and Violence Education

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Sexual assault

Sexual Assault is engaging or attempting to engage in non-consensual bodily contact of a sexual nature. It includes sexual contact or sexual intercourse or penetration achieved by the use of physical force, threats, intimidating behavior, or coercion or when an individual is incapacitated. Sexual Assault is:

  • Non-Consensual Sexual Contact is any touching or attempted touching of a sexual nature. Non-consensual sexual contact includes, but is not limited to: any touching or attempted touching of a person’s genitalia, groin, breast, or buttocks, or the clothing covering any of these areas without consent; any touching or attempted touching of another with any of these body parts without consent; making another person touch you or themselves with or on any of these body parts without consent; or any bodily contact or attempted bodily contact of a sexual nature, though not involving contact with/of/by a person’s genitalia, groin, breast, or buttocks without consent.
  • Non-consensual sexual intercourse or penetration is any penetration (anal, oral or vaginal) or attempted penetration (anal, oral or vaginal), however slight, with any object (finger, tongue, penis, inanimate object, etc.) without consent or forcing someone to penetrate himself or herself with any object, however slight, without consent.


Consent is given by voluntary words or actions that communicate a willingness to engage in a specific sexual activity. The existence of consent will be inferred from all of the facts and circumstances. Consent may be withdrawn at any time. Silence, in and of itself, is not consent. Lack of protest or resistance is not consent. Consent to one form of sexual activity does not imply consent to other forms of sexual activity. A previous or current relationship does not imply consent to sexual activity. Past consent does not imply future consent.

  • Consent cannot be obtained by the use of force to include physical violence, threats, intimidating behavior, and/or coercion.
    • Physical violence means that a person is exerting control over another person through the use of physical force. Examples of physical violence include hitting, punching, slapping, kicking, restraining, choking, strangulation, and brandishing or using any object as a weapon.
    • Threats are words or actions that would compel a reasonable person to engage in unwanted sexual activity. Examples include threats to harm a person physically, to reveal private information to harm a person's reputation, or to cause a person academic or economic harm.
    • Intimidation is an implied threat that menaces or causes reasonable fear in another person. A person's size, alone, does not constitute intimidation; however, a person can use their size or physical power in a manner that constitutes intimidation (e.g., by blocking access to an exit).
    • Coercion is the use of an unreasonable amount of pressure to gain sexual access. Coercion is more than an effort to persuade, entice or attract another person to engage in sexual activity. When a person makes clear that they do not want to participate in a particular form of sexual contact or sexual intercourse, that they want to stop or that they do not want to go beyond a certain sexual activity, continued pressure can be coercive. In evaluating whether coercion was used, the frequency of the application of pressure, the intensity of the pressure, the degree of isolation of the person being pressured, and the duration of the pressure are all relevant factors.
  • If an individual knows or reasonably should know someone is incapable of giving consent, it is a violation of this policy to engage in sexual activity with that person.
  • Consent cannot be given by the following individuals:
    • Individuals who are asleep or unconscious
    • Individuals who are incapacitated due to the influence of drugs, alcohol, medication, or other substances
    • Individuals who are unable to consent due to a mental or physical condition
    • Individuals who are minors
  • Incapacitation: An incapacitated person is incapable of giving consent. Incapacitation means that a person lacks the ability to make informed, reasonable judgments about whether or not to engage in sexual activity. An incapacitated person lacks the ability to understand the who, what, when, where, why and/or how of the sexual interaction. A person is not necessarily incapacitated merely as a result of consuming alcohol, drugs, medications and/or other substances. The impact of alcohol, drugs, medications and/or other substances varies from person to person.
  • Alcohol, medications and other drugs: The use of alcohol, medications and other drugs by the responding party is not an excuse for being unable to assess if the reporting party gave consent.

Prevalence and Statistics of Sexual Assault

Below is a list of research findings on the incidence rates of sexual assault and intimate partner abuse among college students. These statistics were provided by the Red Flag Campaign.

A study that surveyed more than 6,000 students at 32 colleges and universities in the U.S. found that1:

  • One in four women had been victims of rape or attempted rape.
  • 84 percent of those raped knew their attacker, and 57 percent of the rapes happened on dates.
  • Only 27 percent of the women whose sexual assault met the legal definition of rape considered themselves rape victims.
  • 42 percent of the rape victims told no one about the assault, and only 5 percent reported to the police.

The National College Women Sexual Victimization Study (n = 4,432) found that for those women who had been raped and sexually assaulted2:

  • Nine out of 10 offenders were known to the victim (boyfriend, ex-boyfriend, classmate, friend, acquaintance or co-worker).
  • 60 percent of completed rapes occurring on campus took place in the victim’s residence, 31 percent occurred in other living quarters on campus, and 10.3 percent took place in a fraternity.
  • Off-campus victimizations also were more likely to occur in residences.

Other statistics show

  • Four out of five students have experienced some form of sexual harassment during their school years3.
  • 22 percent of all rape victims are between the usual college ages of 18–244.
  • 75 percent of male students and 55% of female student involved in date rape had been drinking or using drugs5.
  • 10–20 percent of all males are sexually violated at some point in their lives6.
  • In Virginia, one in four women and one in eight men have been sexually abused at some point in their lives7.
  • 32 percent of college students report dating violence by a previous partner, and 21 percent report violence by a current partner8.


  1. Warshaw, R. “I Never Called it Rape": The Ms. Report on Recognizing, Fighting, and Surviving Date and Acquaintance Rape. New York: Harper Perennial, 1994.
  2. Fisher, S., Cullen, F., Turner, M., The Sexual Victimization of College Women. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, 2000.
  3. Hostile Hallways: The AAUW Survey on Sexual Harassment in America’s Schools. AAUW Educational Foundation, 1993.
  4. Kilpatrick, DJ, Edmunds, CN, Seymour, A., Rape in America: A Report to the Nation, Arlington VA: National Victim Center, 1992.
  5. Koss, K.P., Hidden rape: Incident, Prevalence and Descriptive Characteristics of Sexual Aggression and Victimization in a National Sample of College Students. Rape and Sexual Assault, Vol. II (ed.) A.W. Burgess. New York: Garland Publishing Co., 1998.
  6. Virginia Department of Health brochure: Sexual Violence, A Men’s Issue; Developed by The Men’s Rape Prevention Project in Washington, D.C.
  7. Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance and Virginia Department of Health Center for Injury and Violence Prevention; 2004 General Assembly Report.
  8. C. Sellers and M. Bromley, “Violent Behavior in College Student Dating Relationships.” Journal of Contemporary Justice, 1996.

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