Sexual Violence

What is Sexual Assault?

Sexual assault includes sexual intercourse, sexual contact, sodomy, or object penetration of the anus or vagina without the person’s sober and enthusiastic consent.  A person who is mentally or physically helpless cannot give consent.  Intoxication may produce such a state of mental or physical helplessness.  In addtion, if consent is obtained through coercion or force, the consent is invalid and any action can be considered sexual assault.

Sexual contact without the person’s consent includes, but is not limited to, any intentional touching of the person’sbody, either directly or through clothing.  It also includes touching or fondling of a person when he/she is forced to do so against his or her will. 


  • Over a five-year stay, a college woman’s risk of experiencing a sexual assault or attempted sexual assault is between 1 and 5 and 1 and 4 (Department of Justice, 2000).
  • Almost 60% of the completed on-campus rapes took place in the victim’s living quarters, 10.3% took place in fraternities (Department of Justice, 2000).
  • Of people who report sexual violence, 64% of women and 16% of men were raped, physically assaulted, or stalked by an intimate partner. This includes a current or former spouse, cohabitating partner, boyfriend/girlfriend, or date (Tjaden, P. & Thoennes, 1998).
  • Rape is called the most underreported violent crime in America (Kilpatrick, DG, Edmunds, CN, & Seymour, AK, 1992).
  • Studies show that 10-20% of all males are sexually violated at some point in their lives (Virginia Department of Health brochure: Sexual Violence, A Men’s Issue).

If You Are Assaulted:

Go to a safe place.  You may want to contact someone you know and trust to be with you.

Contact a resource.  On campus, please call Campus Police (911 or 307-766-8989).
You always have the option of contacting an off-campus resource.  The Albany County SAFE Project hosts a 24-hr. hotline: 1-800-230-3556.

Preserve evidence.  If can avoid it, please do not shower, change clothes, douche or brush your teeth.  It is very important to preserve evidence for evidence collection, which provides proof of a criminal offense should you decide to press charges.

Seek medical treatment.  Above all, you need to take care of yourself.  You can go to Ivinson Memorial Hospital, Student Heatlh Services, or talk with the STOP Violence Coordinator or the SAFE Project to find locations where you can receive treatment for injuries and tests for pregnancy and/or STDs. 

Help a Friend:

If you  have a friend who has been sexualy assaulted, here are some tips for helping them through this trauma.

Believe them!  The best thing you can do for your friend is to believe them when they tell you that they were sexually assaulted.

Give them control.  Sexual assault victims need the chance to re-establish a sense of personal control over what happens in their lives.  The victim needs to be heard, respected, to understand all of the options available to them, and to move at his/her own pace through the recovery process.

Time is of the essence.  Your friend will be in crisis and in need of immediate support.  Also, the window for securing evidence for possible prosecution is short.  At the same time, the victim will need time and ongoing support to recover from the assault in a constructive manner.

Be a partner in healing.  In addition to the effects it has on the victim, rape profoundly affects the victim’s loved ones.  Here are some helpful hints to be a good partner in healing.      

Communicate acceptance and compassion.
Listen: be available to discuss the experience when the survivor is ready
Provide physical comfort when needed
Discuss rape myths when the survivor is ready.  These may play on her/his mind just as they do on yours
Play a supportive role.  This helps her/him to regain a sense of control over her/his life
Assist your loved one in getting counseling if needed
Reassure her/him of your love and that, together, you will endure this crisis
 Channel your anger in non-destructive ways such as, talking openly about your feelings or educating others about the recovery process
Take care of your own needs.  Doing so helps your partner give permission to her/himself to do the same

Blame the victim.  Doing so prolongs recovery and creates a distance in the relationship
Ask “why” questions which only serve to convey judgment and blame
Pressure her/him to recount the details of the event.  She/he will do so if/when ready
“Take charge” of a loved one’s healing process.  Doing so will likely undermine her/his sense of control
 Trivialize the experience by joking about it
 Tell the survivor to “get over it” or “just try to forget about it.”
Be consumed by your anger.  This has several unintended consequences, none of which are helpful:

Anger. . .  Shifts the attention from the survivor’s needs to your need, blocks communication, and is easily misinterpreted as anger toward the survivor

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