Often what we think of as sexual assault comes from movies and TV shows where the situation involves a stranger that is scary, there is violence and weapons, and it occurs in a threatening environment. These situations do occur, however a majority of sexual assaults, especially on a college campus, occur with people that know each other, where there may be very little to no aggression or violence, where the weapon involved is alcohol or other drugs, and in an environment that appeared to be (and should be) safe.
It is not uncommon to be unsure of what to call experiences that don’t feel right, that feel bad or are confusing. Some questions that you might have are: Is that sexual assault? Is that rape? Is this serious enough to report? Will someone believe me? What are my options?
Know that if something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. No matter the circumstances or what happened, sexual assault is never the victim’s fault. It doesn’t matter if alcohol or other drugs were consumed, how the person was dressed, if there was flirting, if there is dating or romantic relationship, if sex happened in the past, or anything else. The only person at fault for sexual assault is the perpetrator. You also don’t have to name your experience or give it a label if you don’t want to.
Sexual assault/rape is any act of sexual intercourse or sexual penetration of any orifice of the body with a body part or other object that takes place against a person’s will or without consent. This may be accompanied by coercion, threatening statements, intimidation, or the threat of physical harm/safety. Sexual assault is not about sex… it is about having power and control over another person.
Examples of sexual assault include unwanted touching, kissing, fondling, or penetration of the mouth, vagina, or anus with a finger, penis or object.
I think I might have been sexually assaulted (link to I might need help section on website)
Learn more about sexual assault, statistics, and more.
What the University of Nevada, Reno says:
SEXUAL ASSAULT: When a person subjects another person to sexual penetration, or forces another person to make a sexual penetration on himself or herself or another, or on a beast, against the will of the victim or under conditions in which the perpetrator knows or should know that the victim is mentally or physically incapable of resisting or understanding the nature of his or her conduct.
SEXUAL HARASSMENT: Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when:
- Submission to the conduct is either an explicit or implicit term or condition of employment
- Submission to or rejection of the conduct is used as a basis for an employment affecting the person rejecting or submitting to the conduct
- The conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an affected person’s work performance, or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.
SEXUAL VIOLENCE: A severe form of sexual harassment, and refers to physical sexual acts or attempted sexual acts perpetrated against a person’s will or where a person is incapable of giving consent, including but not limited to rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, sexual coercion or similar acts in violation of state or federal law.
To see more visit the Title IX website
What Nevada law says:
A person is guilty of sexual assault if he or she:
Subjects another person to sexual penetration, or forces another person to make a sexual penetration on himself or herself or another, or on a beast, against the will of the victim or under conditions in which the perpetrator knows or should know that the victim is mentally or physically incapable of resisting or understanding the nature of his or her conduct. NRS 200.366