Created, directed, edited and produced by Caroline Fish (UNC ’11)
It is not a sexual act; it is a violent crime. It is also called sexual violence.
is a particular type of sexual assault. The FBI updated the definition of rape in January 2012, and it reads “The penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”
Rape and attempted rape are forms of sexual assault, but sexual assault also includes other completed or attempted attacks involving unwanted sexual contact, such as touching, groping, and other forms of contact.
According to the THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA AT CHAPEL HILL POLICY ON PROHIBITED HARASSMENT, INCLUDING SEXUAL MISCONDUCT, AND DISCRIMINATION, “Sexual misconduct refers to physical sexual acts perpetrated against a person without their Consent or where a person is incapable of giving Consent due to the person’s use of drugs, alcohol, or other impairing substances. An individual also may be unable to give consent due to an intellectual or other disability. Sexual misconduct includes, but is not limited to, rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, and sexual coercion.”
In most sexual assaults, no weapon is used except for force. Force can include, but is not limited to: the use of verbal, physical or emotional pressure or manipulation, alcohol and drugs, threats, blackmail, intimidation, abuse of power, or coercion. A person can not freely give consent if they are unconscious, impaired by alcohol or drugs, underage, scared, forced, bound/gagged, intimidated, coerced, mentally impaired, beaten, threatened, isolated, and/or physically impaired.
Who experiences sexual violence?
Sexual violence does not discriminate and it is never the victim’s/survivor’s fault.
Sexual violence is often used as a way to hurt, humiliate or gain control over someone else.
These actions may be committed by boyfriends, girlfriends, friends, acquaintances, family, lovers, partners, and strangers. Sexual assault and rape affect people of all ages, races, genders, sexualities, and abilities.The fact that someone has been intimate with a partner in the past does not mean he/she/ze consents to any/all future sexual activity with that partner.
Even though sexual assault is often associated with women, men and children of all ages also experience unwanted sexual contact. People are most at risk between 12-34 years of age, with risk peaking in the late teens.
Many survivors of sexual assault suffer in silence, never reporting it to the police. This happens for many different reasons, including feelings of shame, guilt, or fear of reprisal from their attacker. Many people sexually assaulted as children do not tell anyone or get help until they are adults. Many offenders never go to jail. But sexual assault is an illegal act that is punishable through the criminal justice courts and the University’s Grievance Committee.
Deciding to tell someone about the assault might be hard, but is also can be empowering. If you come forward, you will be believed.
Many people who have unwanted sexual experiences struggle to label them as “sexual assault” or “rape” because of lack of education about these words, their definitions, and the myths and facts about them in our society. While we can give you the official (and legal) definitions and we will believe your story, only you can know what you experienced. A great website which explains sexual assault and rape can be found here.
According to the THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA AT CHAPEL HILL POLICY ON PROHIBITED HARASSMENT, INCLUDING SEXUAL MISCONDUCT, AND DISCRIMINATION, “Consent means words or actions demonstrating a knowing and voluntary agreement to engage in mutually agreed upon sexual activity. Consent cannot be obtained by force, by ignoring or acting in spite of the objections of another, or by taking advantage of the incapacitation of another. In the case of drugs, alcohol, or other impairing substances, incapacitation is determined by how the person’s decision-making ability is affected and the ability of the person to make informed judgments. The relevant standard for review is whether the person alleged to have engaged in sexual misconduct knew, or a sober, reasonable person in the same position should have known, that the Complainant was incapacitated.”
More commonly, consent is an expressed agreement by both partners to engage in sexual contact of any kind. Consent is not implied if someone does not say “no.” The best way to make sure you are giving and receiving active consent with your partner(s) is to ask before any sexual contact occurs, every time you want sexual contact, and be clear about what you want. If you can’t get a clear answer to your ask for contact, STOP.
“…against someone’s will” implies that one partner said “no” to a sexual act, or gave another verbal or nonverbal indication such as pushing away or looking away, that indicated that such sexual contact was unwanted.
“…without consent” implies that one partner did not agree—in other words did not say “yes” to a sexual act. It is mandatory that, in any sexual situation, both partners must explicitly agree to have sexual contact of any kind. Questions regarding such contact must be asked and answers. If either partner is forced in any way, including the use of verbal, physical, or emotional pressure or manipulation, substances, threats or coercion, consent cannot be given.
“…when someone is unable to freely give consent” implies that an individual has had either the right or the ability to freely give consent taken away by another person or circumstances.
This includes, but is not limited to, situations where someone is…
…or any other situation where an individual feels that she/he/ze will not have control over the situation or that her/his/hir wishes will not be heard.
By freely giving and getting consent, not only are you respecting your partner, you are following the law and UNC Policy.