What You Should Know About Sexual Assault and Rape

By Alexis Cala

There are a lot of myths surrounding sexual assault and rape, like only women are victims, it’s often a stranger who assaults or rapes someone and only sex against someone’s will is sexual assault. But the more you know, the easier it can be to protect yourself.

Let’s take a look at the facts:

  • 60 percent of sexual assaults are not reported
  • More than one fourth of college students are raped; college women are four times more likely to be assaulted
  • 34.9 percent of girls and 27.9 percent of boys between the ages of 12-17 have been raped
  • 58 percent of rape victims are assaulted between the ages of 12-24
  • Half of date rapes occur among teens
  • One in four teens report abuse from a partner each year


Most attackers are not strangers:

Something to keep in mind: the majority of sexual assaults are committed by someone the victim knows – like a boyfriend or girlfriend, a friend, a date or an intimate partner. Seventy percent of victims know their attacker. It’s less common for a stranger to commit an assault.

Most cases are not reported:
Most cases are not reported because the victim knows the assailant. The fear of getting a friend, family member or loved one in trouble can be enough to keep someone silent.

Definition of sexual assault:
Another reason sexual assault isn’t reported is because of the myth that only unwanted sexual intercourse is considered rape. But not all sexual assaults are violent attacks. The National Institute of Justice defines sexual assault and rape as “a wide range of unwanted behaviors.. to nonconsensual penetration.” Here are some examples:

  • Kissing or touching
  • Pressuring someone into sex or other unwanted sexual behaviors
  • Displaying images that were taken in private or when the victim was unaware
  • Rape or attempted rape
  • Sex with someone who cannot give informed consent (yes or no), whether they are drunk, drugged, asleep, etc.


Things you should know:

  • Sexual assault or rape is never your fault
  • If you “hook up” with someone, one “yes” does not mean it’s consensual the next time
  • Sexual assault and rape does happen in same sex relationships
  • While a majority of assaults and rapes are reported by women and committed by men, men are raped too and women can be perpetrators
  • All unwanted sexual contact is sexual assault

If you have been sexually assaulted or raped, here is what you should do:

  • Get to a safe place. If you’re not sure where to go, you can call the National Sexual Assault hotline: 1 (800) 656-4673 (HOPE)
  • Get medical attention immediately! Don’t shower and go to your nearest hospital as soon as possible. You need to be examined and treated.
  • Resist the urge to take a bath or a shower, don’t change clothes or comb your hair.
  • Call 911, and report the assault to the police (and campus security).
  • Talk to someone you trust. Whether it’s a friend, family member, teacher, support group, a counselor, etc.

Photo: Troy Benson Photography

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