Campus Assault Resources and Education (C.A.R.E.)

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Educate Yourself

What is Sexual Assault?

Sexual assault is the commission of an unwanted sexual act, whether by an acquaintance or by a stranger, that occurs without indication of consent of both individuals, or that occurs under threat or coercion. Sexual assault can occur either forcibly and/or against a person's will, or when a person is incapable of giving consent. A person is legally incapable of giving consent if under 18 years of age; if intoxicated by drugs and/or alcohol; if developmentally disabled; or if temporarily or permanently mentally or physically unable to do so.

Under federal and state law, sexual assault includes, but is not limited to: rape, forcible sodomy, forcible oral copulation, sexual assault with an object, sexual battery, forcible fondling (e.g., unwanted touching or kissing for purposes of sexual gratification), and threat of sexual assault.

  • Non-Consensual Sexual Contact: Any sexual touching (contact with the breasts, buttocks, groin or genitals, touching another with any of these body parts or making another touch you or themselves with or on any of these body parts), disrobing or exposure, however slight, with any object by a man or a woman upon a man or a woman without effective consent.
  • Non-Consensual Sexual Intercourse: Any sexual intercourse (anal, oral or vaginal), however slight, with any object, by a man or a woman upon a man or a woman, without effective consent.
  • Mutually Incapacitated Sexual Intercourse: Any sexual intercourse (anal, oral or vaginal), however slight, with any object, occurring between parties who are mutually incapacitated by the use of alcohol and/or other drugs.


Acquaintance Rape: A sexual assault by an individual known to the victim. Another term "date rape" is a sexual assault by an individual with whom the victim has a "dating" relationship and the sexual assault occurs in the context of this relationship. Many of these rapes are physically violent, and all are coercive in nature.

Bystander Responsibility: People make decisions and continue behaviors based on the reactions they get from others. It is the bystander's responsibility to realize his/her power, notice the problem behaviors and attitudes, feel responsible, and respond. Any one of us is a bystander when we are interacting with others - we can either promote positive and healthy attitudes and behaviors, or harmful ones. Bystanders witnessing someone in danger of sexual assault can: call the police or someone else in authority, tell another person, yell for help, ask a friend if he/she is ok and get him/her home safely. (

Consent: An affirmative decision to engage in mutually acceptable sexual activity given by clear actions or words. It is an informed decision made freely and actively by all parties. It is incumbent upon each participant to either obtain or give consent prior to any sexual activity. If at any time during the sexual interaction any confusion or ambiguity should arise on the issue of consent, it is incumbent upon each individual involved in the activity to stop and clarify verbally the other's willingness to continue. Furthermore, a current or previous dating or sexual relationship is not sufficient to constitute consent, and consent to one form of sexual activity does not imply consent to other forms of sexual activity Being intoxicated does not diminish one's responsibility to obtain consent.

A person cannot give consent if he or she (1) is a minor (under age 18); (2) has a mental disorder or developmental or physical disability that renders him or her incapable of giving consent; (3) is unconscious; or (4) is incapacitated from alcohol or other drugs, and this condition was known or reasonably should have been known to the accused.

Even though the definitions provided in these protocols are similar to those contained in applicable criminal laws, the definitions are specific to the University of San Diego. Federal and California law are instructive in this interpretation of the definitions contained in these protocols. However, an act that might not violate or be prosecuted under applicable criminal laws may still violate these standards and protocols, university policy, and the Student Code of Rights and Responsibilities.

Domestic Violence: A pattern of physical, emotional, verbal, and sexual abuse, which includes, but is not limited to, threats, intimidation, isolation, and/or financial control. Domestic Violence is an intentional pattern of behavior that is used by one person as a means to harm and take power and control over another person in the context of a dating family, roommate caretaker relationship.

Do men experience sexual assault and relationship violence?: Men, women, and children...young and old...all races, religions, economic rural areas, small towns, or large cities...can be and have been raped.

Rape (Non-Consensual Sexual Intercourse): Any sexual intercourse (anal, oral or vaginal), however slight, with any object, by a man or a woman upon a man or a woman, without effective consent.

Sexual Assault: Any unwanted physical contact of a sexual nature that occurs either without the consent of each participant or when a participant is unable to give consent freely. Physical contact of a sexual nature includes, but is not limited to, touching or attempted touching of another person's breasts, buttocks, inner thighs, groin, or genitalia, either directly or indirectly, or sexual penetration (however slight) of another person's oral, anal or genital opening. Sexual assault includes, but is not limited to, rape, sodomy, oral copulation, sexual battery, sexual penetration with an object, forcible fondling (e.g. unwanted touching or kissing for purposes of sexual gratification), or threat of sexual assault. Sexual assault can occur either forcibly and/or against a person's will, or when a person is unable to give consent freely.

Sexual Exploitation: Sexual misconduct that occurs when a person takes unjust or abusive sexual advantage of another for his or her own advantage or benefit or for the benefit or advantage of anyone other than the exploited party; and that behavior does not otherwise constitute sexual assault. Examples of sexual exploitation include, but are not limited to, videotaping or photographing of any type (webcam, camera, Internet exposure, etc.) without knowledge and consent of all persons; prostituting another person; knowingly transmitting HIV or a sexually transmitted disease to an unknowing person or to a person who has not consented to the risk; or inducing incapacitation with the intent to commit sexual assault, without regard to whether sexual activity actually takes place.

Sexual Harassment: Unwanted and unwelcomed sexual behavior (words or conduct) that offend, stigmatize or demean a student on the basis of gender.

Stalking: Being repeatedly followed, watched, phoned, written, e-mailed, or contacted in other ways that seem obsessive and make a student afraid or concerned for their safety.

Relationship Violence: Intentional violence or controlling behavior by a person who is currently or was previously in a romantic relationship with the victim. Relationship violence includes actual or threatened physically injury, sexual assault, psychological abuse, economic control, or progressive social isolation.


Adapted from from DC Rape Crisis Center

Myth: Men can't experience rape or relationship violence.

Fact: About 3% of American men have experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime. Men, women, and children... young and old... all races, religions, economics classes... in rural areas, small towns, or large cities... can be and have been raped.

Myth: If a woman is raped, then she must have deserved it, especially if she agreed to go to the man's room, wore sexy clothing, or got drunk.

Fact: No one deserves to be raped. Being in a man's room, wearing revealing clothing, or getting drunk does not mean a woman has agreed to have sex. A person has the right to say what happens to their body at all times.

Myth: It's not rape if the man is her boyfriend or husband or if they have had sex before.

Fact: Everyone has the right to decide what they do with their bodies at all times – if they do not want to have sex, it is their decision, even if they willingly had sex with the person before.

Myth: Most rapes are committed by strangers in the dark of night in out-of-the-way places.

Fact: Survivors know their assailants in 84% of all reported cases. Many people are at greater risk because they do not believe that people they know or people from the same social, economic, racial, or cultural backgrounds are possible rapists. The majority of assaults occur in the home of the survivor or the offender, or someone the survivor or offender knows. Over 50% of assaults occur during the day.

Myth: Individuals rape because they "need" sex.

Fact: Individuals commit rape in order to humiliate or dominate another human being. 75% of men who rape are either married or have regular sexual partners.

Myth: Men who rape other men are gay. Men who are raped by men are gay.

Fact: Rape is an act of control and domination whether the chosen victim is male or female. Rape is not a sexual act. It does not relate to sexual orientation.

Myth: If a survivor didn't fight back or asked the perpetrator to use a condom, he/she wasn't raped.

Fact: Not fighting or resisting an attack does not equal consent. Survivors of sexual violence may employ varying methods to ensure their safety during the attack. Asking or bargaining with an assailant to wear a condom or not fighting back may be their attempt to get through the violent experience and to reduce other physical harm. The survivor may not fight or resist as a coping mechanism for dealing with the trauma of being sexually assaulted.

Myth: It's not sexual assault if it happens after drinking or taking drugs.

Fact: Being under the influence of alcohol or drugs is not an invitation for nonconsensual sexual activity. Others choose to take advantage of the situation and sexually assault the vulnerable individual.

Myth: A person who has been sexually assaulted will be hysterical.

Fact: Survivors exhibit a spectrum of responses to sexual assault, which can include: calm, hysteria, withdrawal, anger, apathy, denial, and shock. Being sexually assaulted is a very traumatic experience. Reactions to the assault and the length of time needed to process the experience vary with each person. There is no "right way" to react to being sexually assaulted. Assumptions about the way a survivor "should act" may be detrimental to the coping process.

Myth: Women cry rape because they had sex and then changed their minds.

Fact: Sexual assault is widely considered to be the most underreported violent crime in America. Some data suggests that 80-90% of rapes are never reported to the police. The FBI has stated that false reports of rape are no higher than false reports for other crimes. Such accusations account for only 2% of reported rapes.


Department of Justice Sexual Assault on Campus Report (Dec 2005):

  • 1 in 5 women experience rape during college.
  • At USD 90 undergraduate females may experience sexual assault in a given year.
  • In 80-90% of cases, the survivor and assailant know each other.
  • Less than 5% of completed and attempted rapes of college students are brought to the attention of campus authorities and/or law enforcement.

USD NCHA 2010 Data:

  • In 2010, 13.6% of USD students reported sexual touching without their consent.
  • In 2010, 6% of USD students reported sexual penetration attempt without their consent.
  • In 2010, 3% of USD students reported sexual penetration without their consent.
  • In 2010, 3.5% of USD students reported a sexually abusive intimate relationship.

Statistics from

  • In 2003, 1 in every 10 rape victims were male.
  • 2.78 million men in the U.S. have been victims of sexual assault or rape.
  • About 3% of American men have experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime.
  • 1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime (14.8% completed rape; 2.8% attempted rape).
  • 17.7 million American women have been victims of attempted or completed rape.
  • Every 2 minutes someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted.
  • Each year there are about 207,754 victims of sexual assault.
  • 54% of sexual assaults are not reported to the police.
  • 97% of rapists will never spend a day in jail.
  • Approximately 2/3 of assaults are committed by someone known to the victim.
  • 38% of rapists are a friend or acquaintance.