- What is Sexual Assault?
- What is Rape?
- What to do if you have been Sexually Assaulted.
- What to do if someone you know has been Sexually Assaulted.
- Same Sex Sexual Assualt.
Sexual Assault is non-consensual sexual conduct, excluding rape, which includes but is not limited to:
- Oral copulation
- Penetration by a foreign object
- Fondling or touch of a person's genitalia, buttocks, or breasts
Consent is defined as positive cooperation in act or attitude pursuant to an exercise of free will. The individuals consenting must act freely and voluntarily and have knowledge of the nature of the act or transaction involved. It is a defense to the allegation of non-consent that a defendant held a reasonable and good faith belief that the complainant was consenting.
IMPORTANT! There is a significant difference between UC Berkeley Policy and California State Law regarding the definition of "consent" as it relates to sexual assault and rape.
UC Berkeley Policy has a stricter definition of consent. It emphasizes that the situation may be considered sexual assault or rape if the individuals involved did not actively and voluntarily give consent.
California State Law emphasizes that a situation may be considered sexual assault or rape if the person participating did so against his or her will. That is to say, that the sexual conduct or intercourse occurred even after the complainant indicated that he or she was not willing to participate.
Rape is considered to be all acts of sexual intercourse involving penetration imposed under the following circumstances:
- Complainant was incapable, because of mental development or physical disability, of giving legal consent and this fact is known or reasonably should be known to the person committing the act
- Such an act is accomplished against a person's consent by means of force, coercion, duress, violence, or reasonable fear of harm to the complainant or another party
- The complainant is prevented from resisting or giving consent as a result of intoxication, or is unconscious at the time of the act, and this fact is known to the person committing the act
Definitions of sexual assault and rape are taken from UC Berkeley Rape and Sexual Assault Policy.
IF YOU ARE IN IMMEDIATE DANGER, THEN CALL 911 (9 - 911 if you're on-campus)
Go to a safe place. This is not the time to be alone. At the very least, you need emotional support. If there is no one to go to, then call someone you can talk to, no matter how late it is. (See places where you can get help )
Get medical attention. As soon as possible, go to a hospital or the Urgent Care center at Tang to be examined and treated for any injuries. If you decide to report, physical specimens collected soon after the rape will be valuable evidence. Do not shower or clean yourself first. The Tang Center is not an "evidence collection" site, so if you do want to file charges, you will have to go to Highland Hospital, which is designated as the "evidence collection" site for sexual assaults that occur in the Berkeley/Oakland area.
Report the assault to police and university officials, whether or not you plan to file charges. Reporting a rape does not commit you to filing charges. When you make your report, have someone go with you. You can go the next day, but the sooner the better. Rarely do rapists attack one person only; they get away with it and so they continue to do it.
Consider whether you want to file charges with the police and/or with the campus authorities if your alleged assailant is a student. Pressing charges can be a long, painful process. Each person must decide for themselves, based on their own circumstances, whether it makes sense to go through it. Social Service staff are available to help you consider the pros and cons for filing charges.
Make space for healing. You have been through a trauma and need to make space for your own emotional, physical, psychological and spiritual healing. You may be overwhelmed by many different emotions - fear, grief, guilt, shame, rage. It is important to seek support. There are many different options, such as talking with a counselor at the Tang Center, joining a survivors group (offered at the Tang Center) or talking with a friend. People who receive counseling tend to recover from their experiences faster and with fewer lasting effects than those who get no help. Recovery from rape doesn't mean that it's as if the rape never happened. Recovery does mean that, over time, the survivor is not thinking about the rape-their emotions are not dominated by it. The survivor is able to envision a future for themselves, to set goals and work to achieve them. Their life moves forward.
Do not blame yourself. Be compassionate with yourself. You need to be assured that you are not to blame for the rape. Even if your body responded sexually to the rapist, it does not mean you "enjoyed" the experience or that it is your fault. Even if you believe you were naïve, not cautious, or even foolish, it is not your fault. Your behavior did not cause the rape; the rapist caused the rape.
- -Be supportive by listening and taking what the person says seriously.
- -If you want to hug or touch the person to show your support, ask him or her first. Remember, the person may have been violated and did not have control over what was done to his/her body. By asking if the person wants touch, you help him/her take back control.
- -Don't ask "why" questions; they can make the person feel judged.
- -Tell the person that it's not his/her fault. Most survivors will blame themselves for what happened. It is important to counter that with strong messages that the harassment/assault was the fault and responsibility of the perpetrator and not the survivor.
- -Don't judge his/her actions leading up to, during, or after the incident. Regardless of what the survivor was wearing, drinking, etc., the perpetrator is responsible.
- -Allow the person to make his/her own decision about whether or not to report the assault, who to tell, etc. Support those decisions.
- -Allow the survivor to share what he/she wants when he/she wants. Don't pressure the person to share information before he/she is ready.
- -Offer resources <link to resources>. Encourage the person to get support.
- -Tell the person that everything he/she decides to share with you is confidential (see the exceptions below).
- -Get support for yourself. You deserve it.
If someone has been sexually or physically assaulted,
- Ask, "Are you hurt? Do you need a doctor?" If the person needs medical attention, ask, "Do you want me to call Urgent Care or Highland Hospital?" If yes, you can call: 1) University Health Services - Urgent Care: 642-3188 2) Highland Hospital Sexual Assault Center 24-hour crisis line: 534-9290 emergency room: 437-4557 3) the hospital the survivor is insured at.
- If no, remind the person that if he/she wants to report the assault, or at least keep that option open, then he/she should preserve all evidence. A medical examination does not mean that the person has to file a report. At the very least, he/she should be checked for STDs, HIV/AIDS, pregnancy, and other concerns.
Remember: These suggestions are by no means exhaustive. Use your own judgment, and when in doubt, you can always refer people to your supervisor(s) or to the Gender Equity Resource Center.
There are many levels to internalized and externalized homophobia, and in order to understand same-sex sexual assault, it is important to first make a commitment to acknowledge and challenge homophobia. Furthermore, it's important to recognize that, although violence exists within lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities, homosexuality, bisexuality or being transgender does not CAUSE this violence. It is also important to recognize that individuals within the LGBT community are targeted for sexual assault due to perceived gender expression. Sexual violence is used as a form of social control to maintain heterosexism.
Same-sex sexual assault has not received much attention from researchers, support services, or the criminal justice system. This lack of attention to same-sex rape has left many survivors without culturally competent support and, therefore, with few resources for healing.
- -Same-sex sexual assault may include forced vaginal or anal penetration, forced oral sex, forced touching, or any other type of forced sexual activity.
- -Same-sex sexual assault can happen on a date, between friends, partners, or strangers.
- -Same-sex survivors are even less likely than opposite-sex survivors to report the assault to the police or seek counseling after it occurs.
- -Most survivors of same-sex assault report additional barriers to seeking support from the police or rape crisis centers, and because of this there is very little statistical data compiled about same-sex violence.
Common Barriers that Same-sex Survivors of Sexual Assault Experience:
- -Not being taken seriously or having their experience minimized
- -Not having their experience labeled as sexual assault or rape
- -Having to explain how it happened in more detail than one would ask a survivor of opposite-sex assault
- -Having to educate those they reach out to
- -Having their experiences sensationalized
- -Increasing people's homophobia or being seen as a traitor to their community if they tell their story to straight people
- -Having fewer people to talk to (because the LGBT community can be a small one that is tightly knit)
- -Mistakenly seen as the perpetrator
- -Being blamed for the assault
- -Not being understood or being blamed if it happened in an S&M environment
- -Being treated in a homophobic manner by the police, the hospital, rape crisis center, and others
- -Being "outed" (having one's sexual orientation discussed or revealed without one's consent)
This information has been adapted from "Support for Survivors-Training for Sexual Assault Counselors;" California Coalition Against Sexual Assault, 1999