Health & Wellness

Sexuality and Relationships

Sexual Violence


Sexual assault is any form of sexual activity that has been forced by one person upon another. If you have experienced sexual violence, it is not your fault.

  • The assailant can be anyone: a partner, boyfriend/girlfriend, a doctor, a teacher, or a complete stranger.
  • Sexual assault is about power, not passion.
  • It is an act of violence, aggression, power and dominance, unprovoked and often premeditated.

Sexual violence and sexual assault are part of a spectrum that includes sexual harassment and catcalling, indecent exposure, stalking, showing or distributing demeaning sexual imagery, and online harassment.

Both women and men can be victims of sexual assault. However, statistics show overwhelmingly that women experience sexual violence at a disproportionate rate to men, and that most perpetrators are male. While the vast majority of assaults go unreported, we do know that some groups are targeted in greater numbers:

In a university and college campus environment, 50% of sexual assaults involve alcohol. Many occur in the first two months of the school year. Students who are more likely to be targeted include:

  • First-year students are new to campus, look up to upper-year students, and do not have strong social support networks locally.
  • Male students in fraternities, single-gendered residences, and sports teams may be subjected to sexualized, homophobic hazing rituals that can cross the line into assault.
  • International students and immigrants may experience more violence due to a real or perceived lack of familiarity with cultural and legal practices.

Rape Culture

Rape culture includes myths about sexual violence, victim blaming, sexual objectification and glamorization in media and advertising, and the language, jokes, and song lyrics that trivialize sexual violence and consent.

Rape culture normalizes sexual violence and as a result, victims and survivors may not understand what happened to them as rape. You may think you are “overreacting” and decide not to talk to someone, get help, or report the violence. Even if you do recognize what happened to be sexual violence, rape culture can cause you to blame yourself, feel guilt or shame, and fear that you will not be believed, including by professionals and authorities. (Source: Break the Silence)

If you have experienced sexual violence or think you may have experienced sexual violence, we encourage you to consider getting support. It is not your fault, and many people want to help.

Myths About Sexual Assault

Sexual assault is often misunderstood or misrepresented in popular culture. Myths include:

  • Sexual assault is always committed by a stranger.
  • If the victim did not fight back, it was not sexual assault.
  • Agreeing to kiss or participate in foreplay means agreement to have sexual intercourse.
  • If you let someone buy you dinner or pay for a movie or drinks, you owe that person sex.
  • "I was too drunk to know what I was doing; I can't be found guilty of sexual assault."