Sexual Assault

What is Sexual Assault?

According to the UC Sexual Harassment and Sexual Violence Policy (Feb. 25, 2014), Sexual Assault occurs when physical sexual activity is engaged without the consent of the other person or when the other person is unable to consent to the activity. The activity or conduct may include physical force, violence, threat, or intimidation, ignoring the objections of the other person, causing the other person’s intoxication or incapacitation through the use of drugs or alcohol, or taking advantage of the other person’s incapacitation (including voluntary intoxication)

Consent is informed, voluntary, revocable, and cannot be given when a person is inpacacitated. 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.

 

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What to do if you have been Sexually Assaulted.


IF YOU ARE IN IMMEDIATE DANGER,  THEN CALL 911 (If you are on a cell phone, dial 510-642-3333)

Go to a safe place. This is not the time to be alone. At the very least, you need emotional support. If it is late and 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. Physical specimens collected soon after the sexual assault can be valuable evidence.  (Avoid showering. If you change your clothes, put them in a paper bag). The Tang Center is not an "forensic evidence collection" site.  Highland Hospital is designated as the "forensic evidence collection" site for sexual assaults that occur in the Berkeley/Oakland area.  UCPD can help with transport to the hospital.

Consider reporting the sexual assault to police.  Please know you can report anonymously and confidentially.  When you are ready to make your report or have questions about the process, you have the right to have a support person or advocate with you.  Confidential resources like Social Services, Ombuds for Students and Post-Doctoral Appointees, CARE Services for staff are available to help you consider the your options for your next steps.  Community resources like BAWAR can provide State-Certified Advocates to accompany you to the police, hospital or court.

If the alleged assailant is a member of the campus community, consider whether you want to file a complaint with the campus. Each person must decide for themselves, based on their own circumstances, whether to report to the authorities.  Confidential resources like Social Services, Ombuds for Students and Post-Doctoral Appointees, CARE Services for staff are available to help you consider the your options for your next steps.

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. Emotional support is available. 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 doesn't mean that it's as if the incident never happened. Recovery does mean that, over time, 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  It is not your fault. Be compassionate with yourself. 

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What to do if someone you know has been Sexually Assaulted.

Generally:

1)       Be supportive by listening and taking what the person(s) says seriously. 

2)       Ask first, if you want to hug or touch the person(s) to show your support.  Remember, the person(s) may have been violated and/or did not have control over what was done to their body. By asking, it helps them take back control.

3)         Avoid "why" questions; these can make the person(s) feel judged.

4)         Assure the person(s) that it's not their fault. Most survivors will blame themselves for what happened. It is important to counter that with strong messages that the harassment/assault is the responsibility of the perpetrator(s) and not the survivor.

5)         Avoid judging the person’s actions leading up to, during, or after the incident. Regardless of what the survivors were wearing, drinking, etc., it is not his/her/their fault.

6)         Allow the person(s) to make their own decisions about whether or not to report the incident to authorities, who to tell, etc.  Support those decisions.

7)         Allow the survivor(s) to share what they want when they want.  Avoid pressuring the person(s) to share information.  Your role is to support not invetigate

8)         Offer resources.  Encourage the person(s) to get support.

9)         Tell the survivor(s) that if they think that they may want to report the incident to the authorities and/or to pursue action, that preserving evidence can be very helpful in resolving the case.  Methods for preserving evidence that you can share:

-       Highly recommend not washing, showering, or brushing your teeth to preserve DNA evidence (within 72 hours).  Save clothes, sheets, etc. in a paper bag (sexual assault/rape).  Resident can decide to go to SART (Sexual Assault Response Team) facility to deal with the emotional and physical impact (closest to Cal is Highland hospital, Oakland)

-       Keeping any relevant letters, notes, emails, voicemails, etc. (sexual harassment/stalking

-       Writing down a chronology of events (facts) while it is fresh in their minds)

10) Get support for yourself. You deserve it.

 

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Same Sex Sexual Assault

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)

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This information has been adapted from "Support for Survivors-Training for Sexual Assault Counselors;" California Coalition Against Sexual Assault, 1999