Sexual Assault

For more information and resources on sexual assault, visit the Campus Violence Prevention Project website.

Sexual assault and date rape are when a person intentionally forces another person to have unwanted sexual contact/activity.  It is a criminal offense for a person to engage in such sexual activity without that person's consent.  This may include unwanted sexual touch, penetration, forcing or tricking the person into touching the other person, or posing for sexually explicit photographs.

What To Do If You Have Been Sexually Assaulted

Seek medical attention.

Go to a hospital where medical expertise is available.  A medical examination is very important.  You can decide later whether to pursue legal action.  However, if you do not permit evidence to be collected now, you will not be able to use this as potential evidence later.  You should also be tested for pregnancy and any sexually-transmitted infections, such as HIV.

Do not wash or change clothes, brush teeth, or go to the bathroom.

By doing any of these things, you could be destroying evidence that could be used later.

Report the incident to the police and/or college officials.

After a police officer takes your statement, you can decide whether to press charges.  If the perpetrator is a college student, consider providing this identifying information to the Dean of Students Office (130 Bowman Hall; 232-1181).  It is usually best to work in cooperation any investigation procedures the college and/or police may initiate.

Where to Call

24-Hours (includes weekends and holidays)

 Emergency  911 (on campus, 9-911)
 Myrtle Werth Emergency Room
 (715) 233-7292
 The Bridge Crisis Hotline  (715) 235-9074
 (800) 924-9918
 Rape Crisis Hotline
 800-HOPE (4673)

Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

 UW-Stout Counseling Center  (715) 232-2468
 UW-Stout Health Services  (715) 232-1314
 Hall Director or Resident Advisor  See campus directory

For more information contact the University Counseling Center , 410 Bowman Hall, (715) 232-2468.  The staff of the University Counseling Center will:
  • Treat you and your situation with confidentiality, sensitivity and care.
  • Consider your situation seriously, regardless of your gender or the gender of the suspect.
  • Provide on-going emotional support whether or not you decide to become involved with the judicial system/police.
  • Assist you in exploring options that seem most helpful given your individual situation and decisions, including the choice of referrals to outside agencies that may be particularly helpful to your situation.

Myths, Risks and Precautions

Sexual assault and date rape are when a person intentionally forces another person to have unwanted sexual contact/activity.  It is a criminal offense for a person to engage in such sexual activity without that person's consent.  This may include unwanted sexual touch, penetration, forcing or tricking the person into touching the other person, or posing for sexually explicit photographs.

Facts

  • The risk of date rape and similar forms of sexual assault is four times higher for women ages 16-24, the prime age range for dating.
  • One in four women in college have been victims of rape, and almost 90% of these women knew their perpetrators.
  • A growing number of males are reporting they have been victims of rape/sexual assault.  It is estimated that one in twelve men are victims of rape.
Myths and Facts of Sexual Assault

MYTH FACT
 Prior consent means that there is always consent.  Prior consent is not a one-time only agreement.
 When someone says no, they really mean yes.  No means no.  Saying no should be respected, no matter what sexual activity is taking place between two people.
 If the person agrees to come back to your room, this person has given consent.  It is wrong to assume that even though a person may agree to come back to the other person's room he/she has therefore consented to engage in sexual activity (of any kind).
 Sex is owed for dinner or for a night out.  Assault is assault, regardless of your gender.  A mistaken message to men is that if they were "real" men, they wouldn't be forced into sex.  Male survivors may view sexual assault as a loss of their manhood, leading to feelings of guilt and shame and consequently, may choose to suffer in silence.  That is why it's important to remember that sexual assault is an act of violence, power, and control, and that no one deserves it.
 Sexual assault only happens to women.
 Assault is assault, regardless of your gender.  A mistaken message to men is that if they were "real" men, they wouldn't be forced into sex.  Male survivors may view sexual assault as a loss of their manhood, leading to feelings of guilt and shame and consequently, may choose to suffer in silence.  That is why it's important to remember that sexual assault is an act of violence, power, and control, and that no one deserves it.

The Link Between Alcohol Use and Sexual Assault

The link (association) between alcohol use and date rape should not be overlooked. For example, in the majority of date rapes on college campuses, one landmark study demonstrated that both parties had been drinking alcohol, often to excess.  In view of this link, the most effective preventative measure regarding the use of alcohol and dating is to set limits for alcohol use prior to the date. For example, when you go out for the night, decide whether or not you will drink, and how much you will drink.  When you reach this limit, stop.

Drugs in Your Drink

Date rape drugs added to someone's drink may render the person helpless and unable to remember what happened.  These drugs often show up at large parties and spring break destinations.  Rohypnol and Gamma Hydroxy Butyrate (GHB) are the most commonly used date rape substances.  It is illegal for any person to possess or intentionally add these substances to a drink.  As a self-protective measure against drugs added to your drink:
  • Watch your drink as it is being prepared
  • Drink from tamper-proof bottles and cans
  • Avoid large mouth plastic cups
  • Never leave your drink unattended

Other preventative measures include:

  • Use the buddy system - Go out with a group of friends who agree to stay together and to leave together.
  • Have a back-up plan - Set aside enough money for a phone call or cab fare, just in case you don't have a ride home.
  • If the situation feels uncomfortable, communicate this to the other person - Do not hesitate to say "no" at any time, under any circumstances.  Be straightforward and clear.  If necessary, yell for help or try to fight back.

Clear Communication

When it comes to dating, communication between parties can easily become confused or misinterpreted.  Setting personal boundaries prior to dating may help take the guesswork out of what will happen during the date.  Here are some ways to get started:
  • Before intimacy, state in clear terms what is acceptable and not acceptable, especially concerning sexual activity.
  • Be clear in defining your personal space and your limits.
  • Do not hesitate to say "no" at any point for any reason, particularly if things start to feel uncomfortable and/or unsafe.

Treatment and Support

Sexual assault and date rape are when a person intentionally forces another person to have unwanted sexual contact/activity.  It is a criminal offense for a person to engage in such sexual activity without that person's consent.  This may include unwanted sexual touch, penetration, forcing or tricking the person into touching the other person, or posing for sexually explicit photographs.

Aftermath of Sexual Assault/Abuse

Like any other trauma, sexual assault may disrupt your life for a while.  Even though the trauma is over, it is not uncommon to experience the aftermath of the event, including a range of reactions that come and go unexpectedly.  Such reactions can range from initial shock, loss, and self-blame, to anger and fear for one's personal safety. While some of these reactions may be temporary, others can be troubling for weeks or longer.  In this case, it is important to know that professional assistance is available (see Where to Call).

Placing the Blame

Avoid placing the blame on yourself.  If you expressed that you did not want to engage in sexual activity, the other person should have stopped.

Ways to Take Care of Yourself

First, seek emotional support from friends, family, and/or professionals as you work toward regaining a sense of safety and reassurance.  Second, consider using stress and coping strategies, such as leisurely walking, reading, moderate exercise, prayer/meditation, deep breathing, listening to music, or keeping a journal.  At some point you may choose to write a letter to the perpetrator about how you feel about what happened.  Choose to send the letter or not.  Third, consider whether professional counseling may be beneficial, particularly if these difficulties continue to negatively affect areas of your life: academic, work, and personal.

If You Have Experienced Sexual Assault/Abuse in the Past

Some individuals may experience reactions or memories concerning a past sexual assault.  However, out of fear and/or shame, many of these individuals never tell anyone about it.  Regardless of whether you were sexually assaulted several days ago or many years ago, it is important to know that assistance is available (see Where to Call).

For Concerned Others

Although we may not be victims of a sexual assault, we may be concerned for someone who is a victim.  Below are tips for concerned others to guide their response to a potential victim of sexual assault/date rape:
  • First and foremost, support the person.  More than anything else, the person needs you to validate and support what has happened, not to question why it happened.  To do so, demonstrate respect and the ability to listen while being emotionally present and available.
  • Assure the person he/she was not at fault.   No matter what he/she wore, said, didn't say, or where the incident took place, this person did not ask for or deserve to be sexually assaulted.
  • Accept the person's choice of what to do.  Ask what is needed, help explore and identify options, and encourage independent decision-making, even if you may disagree.
  • Remain patient.   Try not to rush the healing process.  Encourage the individual to seek professional help (see Where to Call ).
  • If the assault occurred recently, attend to immediate needs.  For example, remind the person to save clothing that was worn, not to shower or bathe, or to remove any other physical evidence that can be obtained in a medical examination.
  • Seek support for yourself.  It may be overwhelming to deal with your own reactions to this incident, in addition to the victim's.  If you experience such reactions, or feelings of blame toward the victim, consider talking to someone about this (see Where to Call ).
  • For the romantic partner of the victim: Pace the intensity of your involvement, especially sexual contact, with the victim.  Ask permission before touching, holding, or making physical contact.