Sexual assault is a non-consensual sexual act involving force, manipulation, or coercion. It is an act of aggression, violence, and power.
- A study on sexual assault in Texas found that 1 in 5 women and 1 in 20 men had been sexually assaulted in some point in their life (Busch, Bell, DiNitto & Neff, 2003).
- Between one-fifth and one-quarter of women are the victims of completed or attempted rape while in college (Fisher, Cullen, & Turner, 2000).
- Women are more likely to be victims of sexual violence than men. 78% of the victims of rape are women and 22% are men.
- 50% to 75% of sexual assaults on college campuses involve alcohol consumption on the part of the victim, the perpetrator, or both ( Abbey, et al., 1996; Sampson, 2002).
- In 8 out of 10 rapes cases the victim knows the perpetrator (Tjaden & Thoennes, 2000)
- The National Violence Against Women Survey found 1 in 5 (19%) of adult women reported their rapes to police (Tjaden & Thoennes, 2006)
Sexual Assault Dynamics
- Alcohol is still the most common date rape drug, because it is affordable, accessible, and effective. Alcohol can undermine the victim’s ability to resist, her clarity about what happened, and her feelings of entitlement to report (Adams-Curtis & Forbes, 2004; Martin & Hummer, 1989).
- Victims may experience physical symptoms such as sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy, chronic pelvic pain, and migraines.
- Victims may experience a range of psychological symptoms such as shock, denial, fear, anxiety, guilt, depression, drug and alcohol abuse, risky-sexual behavior, and distrust of others. Some women experience Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and these symptoms include: dissociation, flashbacks, hyper arousal to stimulus, and mental replays of the assault.
Characteristics of Perpetrators and Victim/Survivors
- Men who are sexually violent may show more hostility to women, prefer impersonal sex, acceptance of verbal pressure as a way to obtain sex, and may associate with sexually aggressive and delinquent peers.
- Sexual assault can happen to anyone. Victims appear quite similar to other college women, but white women, prior victims, first-year students, and more sexually active women are more vulnerable (Adams-Curtis & Forbes, 2004; Humphrey & White, 2000).
- Many times prevention efforts are directed at young women. Young women are encouraged to go out with friends, control their alcohol consumption, meet new dates in public places, and guard their drinks against date rape drugs. Although well-intended, sometimes such warnings can cause women to blame themselves if they are raped, as if it were in their power to prevent rape.
- Prevention efforts can also be directed at men, although often they are not. Young men can believe that "no" means "no" and refuse to pressure women for sex. Sex with an unconsious or inebriated woman who is unable to give consent is rape. Men can also stop situations where they see other men, roomates or fraternity brothers, inappropriately sexually coercing women. Men can also assist their female friends who have survived rape. The resources are listed below.
What you Can Do After an Assault
- Seek medical help. Don’t shower, bathe, or douche or change clothes so evidence can be collected.
- Report the rape to authorities, however, this does not mean you have to press charges.
- Seek counseling or a friend for support. Remember, it is not your fault, regardless of where you were, what you were wearing, or what you said or did. There are groups for sexual assault survivors to share stories and seek support.
- Read the University of Houston Sexual Assault Policy in the Student Handbook and linked here.
According to the Texas Coalition Against Sexual Assault (TCASA) You have the Right to:
- Determine whether to report the crime to police.
- Ask for a male or female police office if you choose to report.
- Locate an attorney to represent you (the prosecutor is not your attorney).
- Sue the rapist in civil court for money.
- Refuse to have evidence collected.
- Request that someone accompany you in the examination room.
- Be considered a rape victim/survivor regardless of the rapist’s relationship to you.
- Request emergency contraceptions to prevent pregnancy.
Community and National Resources
In an emergency, call the police at 911
National Sexual Assault Hotline 1-(800) 656-HOPE
RAINN (Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network) www.rainn.org
Houston Area Women’s Center (713) 528-7273 or www.hawc.org
Texas Association Against Sexual Assault www.taasa.org
University of Houston Campus Resources
Information (713) 743-0600 or (713) 743-3333
Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) (713) 743-5454
Women’s Resource Center (713) 743-5888
UH Equal Opportunity Services Office (713) 743-8835
UH Health Center (713) 743-5151
UH Wellness (713) 743-5430 or www.uh.edu/wellness