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What is Sexual Assault?

Sexual assault is defined as any unwanted sexual contact. Sexual assault may involve physical force, pressure, manipulation and/or threats. Some rapists use alcohol or other drugs to take advantage of a victim. It is normal for some victims to feel guilty and that it is their fault for what happened; however, it is NEVER the victim's fault. Sexual assault is a crime, whether it is committed by a boyfriend/girlfriend, family member, acquaintance or someone else.

What is the difference between sexual assault and rape?

"Sexual assault" is a general term describing any unwanted sexual contact. "Rape" is usually used to specifically describe a sexual assault in which there was penetration of any kind.

What if I say "yes" to sexual activity first, but then change my mind. Can I withdraw my consent?

At any point, consent may be withdrawn. It is possible for a variety of reasons that a person may consent to sexual activity and then decide they don't want to continue. If at any point someone indicates they are uncomfortable or want to stop, consent has been withdrawn. Any unwanted sexual activity is considered sexual assault, even if a person previously gave consent.

Is it rape if a person takes advantage of someone who is intoxicated?

Yes. Alcohol is the number one date rape drug and is a part of 75% of all acquaintance rapes. If a person is under the influence of alcohol or other drugs, their physical, verbal, and psychological abilities are jeopardized and they are unable to give consent. It is important to know that a person cannot give consent if they are under the influence. If you were under the influence of alcohol or other drugs and were sexually assaulted, it is NOT your fault.

What are date rape drugs?

These are drugs that are sometimes used to assist a sexual assault. These drugs are powerful and dangerous. They can be slipped into your drink when you are not looking and often have no color, smell, or taste, so you can't tell if you are being drugged. The drugs can make you become weak and confused, or even pass out so that you are unable to refuse sex or defend yourself. Alcohol makes the drugs even stronger and can cause serious health problems — even death. The term "date rape" also can be misleading because the person who commits the crime might not be dating the victim. Rather, it could be an acquaintance or stranger.

  • Alcohol is the most common date rape drug.
  • Some of the other common date rape drugs are:
    • Rohypnol- Effects can be felt within 30 minutes of being drugged and can last for several hours. If you are drugged, you might look and act like someone who is drunk.
    • GHB- Effects can be felt in about 15 minutes and can last 3 or 4 hours. Most GHB is made by people in home or street "labs." So, you don't know what's in it or how it will affect you.
    • Ketamine- Very fast-acting. You might be aware of what is happening to you, but unable to move. It also causes memory problems. Later, you might not be able to remember what happened while you were drugged.

Are there ways to tell if I might have been drugged and raped?

It is often hard to tell. Most victims don't remember being drugged or assaulted. The victim might not be aware of the attack until 8 or 12 hours after it occurred. These drugs also leave the body very quickly. Once a victim gets help, there might be no proof that drugs were involved in the attack. But there are some signs that you might have been drugged:

  • You feel drunk and haven't drunk any alcohol — or, you feel like the effects of drinking alcohol are stronger than usual.
  • You wake up feeling very hung over and disoriented or having no memory of a period of time.
  • You remember having a drink, but cannot recall anything after that.
  • You find that your clothes are torn or not on right.
  • You feel like you had sex, but you cannot remember it.