What is sexual assault?
Sexual assault is an umbrella term that describes any action that is sexual in nature in which the actor (the person performing the act) did not obtain consent from the other person. Rape is one form of sexual violence and is defined in Colorado as the sexual penetration of the vagina, anus or mouth of a victim by a finger, tongue, penis or other object.
Prior to any sexual activity, everyone is legally required to gain consent from their partner/s. Broadly, consent can be thought of as "getting permission" before touching another person. Specifically, consent includes the following 3 elements:
1. Cooperation in act and attitude - the absence of a "no" does not mean "yes". Silence or laying still are not indications of consent. Additionally, phrases like "lets slow down", "I'm not sure" or "Maybe we should wait" should all be interpreted as "No".
2. Exercise of free will - consent can not be obtained through pressure, coercion or physical force.
3. Knowledge of what is happening - a person can not legally give consent if they are inebriated or drugged and therefore unable to fully understand what is happening. It should go without saying but a person also can not legally give consent if they are unconscious for any reason.
Common myths about sexual assault:
1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men have experienced sexual violence in their lifetime. Despite this outrageously high statistic, most people know very little about the facts of sexual assault. Below is a list of common myths that not only allow sexual violence to go unchecked in society, but even worse, help to create an environment that blames and silences victims after an assault.
Common Myth #1 - Most people are assaulted by a stranger. While this can sometimes be hard to believe, the vast majority of surviors are assaulted by someone they know and trust.
Over 90% of rapes are committed by a person that the victim knows. (Fisher, Francis & Cullen)
At CSU 95-97% of reported rapes are committed by a person that the victim knows.
Common Myth #2 - The way a person dresses (or dances/talks/etc) suggests their desire for sex. This myth is often used as a way to blame victims after an assault.
Common Myth #3 - Most rapes probably could have been prevented by the victim if she/he would have been more aware of her/his surroundings. This is another myth that supports a culture of victim blaming. The truth is, the ONLY person who can prevent an assault is the perpetrator.
Common Myth #4 - Most reported sexual assaults are false or made up. Part of the reason why this myth is so common is because we so often hear messages in the media about a person (usually a woman) lying about assault.
according to the FBI, less than 2% of reported sexual assaults are false
this statistic is the same for other falsely reported crimes like burglary, car jacking, etc.
Often if a person knows both the perpetrator and victim (because most people are assaulted by someone they know), it can be easier for the third-party to believe that they have a friend who lies rather than believing that they have a friend who rapes.
Most people never report being assaulted.
The process of reporting a sexual assault is traumatic, and most people can think of easier ways to “get revenge” on another person.
The legal system is not always victim-centered. Often, there is not enough evidence to prosecute cases of assault (many victims shower immediately after the assault). Sometimes when this happens, the media (or the perpetrator) will report that "charges have been dropped" which sounds synonymous with "false report" when in reality it is simply a lack of physical evidence.
Common Myth #5 Most survivors of sexual assault report the crime immediately.
Fewer than 1 in 10 people ever report sexual assault to police.
Most people never talk about it to anyone one else at all. Some will talk to friends, family and a counselor, but never to the police.
When people do report it, it usually is not right away.
Wanna lean more about sexual violence?
If you would like to learn more about sexual violence interests, consider one of the following other resources offered through the WGAC!
> Take a class!
WS397 - Intro to Gender Based Violence in a US Context (formerly SAGE)
This course is an academic course in Women’s Studies that will closely examine interpersonal violence (sexual assault, relationship violence & stalking) in US culture. We will explore the role of identity in the ways that we as a society perpetuate and experience violence. This course will also provide an opportunity for students to explore the impact that our culture of violence has had on their own lives and relationships.
· 3 credits, Offered SPRING 2013
· Open to all students, preference to 1st and 2nd year students
· Students who complete the course are invited to apply for a position with our peer education troupe, The Red Whistle Brigade!
· Course Description: This course is an academic course in Women’s Studies that will closely examine interpersonal violence (sexual assault, relationship violence & stalking) in US culture. We will explore the role of identity in the ways that we as a society perpetuate and experience violence. We will explore issues of gender socialization, masculinities, pornography, media representation, rape supportive culture and more. This course will also provide an opportunity for students to explore the impact that our culture of violence has had on their own lives and relationships
If you are interested in taking the course please contact Monica Rivera at firstname.lastname@example.org.
>Borrow a film!
No! The Rape Documentary
>Borrow a book!
Yes Means Yes! Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World without Rape
Transforming a Rape Culture:
The Color of Violence