Sexual assault is an umbrella term to describe sexual contact committed without consent or using force or threats.
Rape is a form of sexual assault. California law's definition of rape includes sexual intercourse committed:
- against a person's will by means of force, violence, duress or fear of harm;
- when the victim is unconscious or asleep;
- when a person is prevented from resisting by any intoxicating substance or any controlled substance, and this condition was known or reasonably should have been known by the accused;
- when the victim is not aware, knowing, perceiving, or cognizant that the act occurred;
- against the victim's will by threatening to retaliate in the future against the victim or any other person, and there is a reasonable possibility that the perpetrator will execute the threat.
Sexual battery is a form of sexual assault. Under California law, sexual battery refers to unwanted touching of another person's groin, buttock or other intimate parts.
All forms of sexual assault fall under the USC's sexual misconduct policy. The USC Student Conduct Code defines sexual misconduct as any sexual act perpetrated upon another person:
- without his or her consent;
- where the assailant uses physical force, threat, coercion or intimidation to overpower or control the survivor;
- where the survivor fears that she or he or another person will be injured or otherwise harmed if she or he does not submit;
- where the survivor has an impaired ability to give or withhold consent due to the influence of alcohol or other drugs; or
- where consent is otherwise not freely given.
To read the full sexual misconduct policy, please click here for SCampus.
Both men and women are victims of sexual assault, but the vast majority of victims is women. In the United States, 1 out of every 6 women has been raped during her lifetime and 1 out of every 33 men. Of all rape victims identified in a national survey of 8,000 women and 8,005 men, 85% of the victims were women and 14.2 percent were men.
No matter what the biological sex of the victim is, the perpetrator tends to be a man. In 2006, the National Institute of Justice reported that 99.6% of female victims and 85.2% of male victims were raped by men. Less than 1% of female victims and 18.2% of male victims were raped by women. (Because some victims had been raped by a man and a woman, the total exceeds 100%.) For more statistics about rape and sexual assault, download the Sexual Victimization of College Women report.
Rape is an act of violence, not sex. It is not the result of sexual desire or sexual deprivation. Perpetrators tend to be motivated by control and anger. Part of their gratification comes from gaining power over the victim or discharging anger. For example, heterosexual men have raped gay men as a form of gay bashing, acts based on hate.
All rape, no matter what the biological sex of the victim is, tends to be inspired by feelings of power, discharging anger or eroticizing aggression.
Reacting to rape and sexual assault
Feeling ashamed, as if it was somehow your fault that this happened. It wasn't your fault. Even if you made yourself vulnerable somehow, that doesn't give someone else permission to take advantage of your vulnerability.
Being angry with your assailant -- or even with your friends, roommates and other people -- when the reality of what happened begins to sink in.
Having an overwhelming feeling of fear that life will never be the same again.
Experiencing a change in your eating and sleeping patterns.
Crying at unexpected times.
Abusing alcohol or other substances as a means of escaping the pain.
Feeling as if you don't know who you can trust any more.
Victims often feel shocked or numb. Some of the psychological and behavioral reactions experienced may include:
If you're experiencing some of these reactions, remember that this is a normal part of the response to the trauma you've experienced. Reach out for help, both professional assistance and support from family and friends, if possible. You don't have to go through this alone.
Counselors at the Center for Women and Men will help you explore the range of options available to you, and the counselors serve all students regardless of gender. You will not be pressured to make a police report if you don't want to do so. Information given to the Center for Women and Men will be kept in total confidence.
Groth, A. Nicholas. (2001) Men Who Rape: The Psychology of the Offender, Perseus Publishing.