Sexual Assault

About Sexual Violence


Sexual misconduct includes any sexual activity for which consent is not given.  Studies show that about one in five women on college campuses will be the target of either a completed or an attempted rape and that more than 80 percent of all women who experienced assault were acquainted with the person who assaulted them. It is also estimated that one in 33 men will be assaulted in their lifetime. One in 6 boys expereinces a sexual assault by the time they are 18 years old,  most often by an acquaintance or relative. Victims and perpetrators may be of the any gender, though studies of rape indicate the majority of cases involve a male perpetrator and female victim. According to recent study from Center for Disease Control, lesbians and gay men reported intimate partner violence and sexual violence over their lifetimes at levels equal to or higher than those of heterosexuals; with sexual orientation based on respondents' identification at the time of the survey. They also found that bisexual women (61.1%) report a higher prevalence of rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner compared to both lesbian (43.8%) and heterosexual women (35%).

To define some key terms:

Sexual assault is any unwanted, coerced, manipulated, or forced sexual contact or intercourse. This includes acts of sexual molestation, childhood sexual abuse, acquaintance rape, stranger rape or gang rape.

Sexual harassment is unwelcome sexual conduct within the context of employment or education. It encompasses a wide range of behaviors that have a negative effect on employees or students.

Consent must be given freely by participants in sexual activity. Ideally, consent is given verbally and clearly indicates an individual’s desire to engage in a particular sexual activity. Consent must be present throughout the activity and can be revoked at any time. Silence or a prior relationship, by themselves, are not sufficient to indicate consent. Consent may not be given by someone who is asleep, drugged, intoxicated, unconscious, a minor, or by anyone else whose capacity or ability to provide informed consent is otherwise impaired, such as a developmental disability.

A Community Commitment to Prevention:

Prevention of sexual violence requires a commitment from all members of the community in order to create a campus in which personal development and growth can occur safely. To assist in creating this type of campus community, the following suggestions are provided:

  • Educate yourself and others on the causes, impact, and prevention of sexual and other forms of violence. Work towards creating a non-violent society through political action, organizing or other activities you are interested in.
  • Avoid being a bystander to situations which could potentially evolve into sexual misconduct. Intervene in situations where a friend or acquaintance may be at risk for assault.
  • Sixty to seventy percent of all sexual assaults are planned. If you learn of someone planning to take advantage of another person, confront the individual or ask for assistance to do so.
  • Confront myths, jokes, or negative attitudes about sexual assault and rape when heard to prevent misinformation from being spread further.
  • Show respect for others by respecting their boundaries, physical and otherwise. This includes a personal decision to be alcohol-or drug-free.
  • Pay attention to the verbal and non-verbal signals others are giving to indicate whether they are a willing participant.
  • When in an intimate situation, be sure consent has been given before engaging in any sexual activity.
  • Verbal consent is best; if you are unsure if your partner has consented to a particular activity, ask.
  • Avoid using alcohol or other drugs to subdue another person’s ability to protest.

Bystander Intervention:

WE Speak, WE Stand, Wesleyan's Community of Care program, aims to create a campus that is actively engaged in the prevention of sexual assault and advocates for the responsible use of alcohol. The goal of the program is to empower bystanders to intervene in high risk situations involving alcohol use and those involving sexual assault. Empowered bystanders create a safer community by standing up and speaking out when they witness situations that could potentially harm the health and safety of others. Intervening with peers can be challenging for a number of reasons and training will provide you with the skills to move from inaction to action and intervene safely and effectively. The We Speak, We Stand bystander intervention training features two separate and distinct tracks: sexual assault prevention and alcohol use. For more information about the next training, contact Alysha B. Warren, LPC, Therapist/Sexual Violence Resource Coordinator. Reference "We Speak, We Stand Training" in the subject line.