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Sexual Assault and Consent

Consent is defined as a freely given, clear, unambiguous agreement between the participants to engage in sexual activity. A person’s lack of verbal or physical resistance or submission by a person resulting from the use of force or threat of force by another person does not mean they consent.

A person cannot consent if the person’s physical and/or mental control is markedly diminished as the result of alcohol, other drugs, illness, injury or any other reason.

Consent must be given each time the participants engage in sexual activity.

Consent given on a prior occasion does not indicate future consent and consent may be revoked at any time.

Acquaintance Sexual Assault

Acquaintance sexual assault, often called “date rape,” refers to sexual assault committed by someone the survivor knows. We most often think of sexual assault as being committed by strangers. However, most of the time the perpetrator is someone the survivor knows.

Research indicates that you are 4 times more likely to be sexually assaulted by someone you know.

Stereotypes

Acquaintance sexual assault does not fit our “stereotype” of sexual assault. Women are often warned to be wary of strangers, avoid walking alone at night, etc. These precautions are suggested to reduce the possibility of being assaulted by a stranger and assume that only women are sexually assaulted. While statistically women are more likely to be sexually assaulted, 1 in 71 men will be sexually assaulted in their life. While sexual assaults by strangers do occur, individuals are more likely to be assaulted by someone they know.

Some people think that being sexually assaulted by an acquaintance is not as traumatic as being assaulted by a stranger, but this is NOT true.  Additionally, survivors who have been assaulted by acquaintances often blame themselves more and feel a greater sense of personal responsibility. The survivor often questions their own judgement and feels as though their trust has been violated — they were assaulted by someone they know and felt they could trust.

Most sexual assaults are not reported and sexual assaults by acquaintances are reported even less than assaults by strangers. When the perpetrator is someone they know, survivors often worry that:

  • Others will not believe them
  • They will be retaliated against by the perpetrator or their friends
  • The perpetrator will face consequences
  • They will lose their friends/support

Support

Survivors of acquaintance sexual assault need the same support and medical services required by survivors of assault by strangers. Free and confidential services are available at the UW Oshkosh Counseling Center and in the community to support your healing process.

Going for support either on campus or in the community does not mean that a formal police report will be filed. However, support can be provided in filing complaints if desired. Please contact the Campus Victim Advocate for additional support.

Interpersonal Violence

Interpersonal violence is domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking. These can all constitute crimes.

Domestic violence refers to violence in a social relationship in which there is some kind of family, intimate or shared living situation.

Dating violence refers to violence in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature.

Stalking refers to engaging in actions or behaviors that are directed at specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for his or her safety, the safety of others and/or suffer substantial emotional distress.

Domestic violence, dating violence and stalking is more common in college than most people think.

In fact, 21% of college students report having experience dating violence by a current partner, 32% experienced dating violence by a previous partner and over 13% of college women report they have been stalked of which 42% were stalked by a boyfriend or ex-boyfriend (statistic are from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence).

Abuse occurs in same-gender relationships as often as in relationships between people of different genders. Many students are concerned about reporting interpersonal violence or stalking because they are concerned that it could make the violence and/or stalking worse, they don’t want the person to get in trouble, are fearful of family and/or friends finding out they have conflicted feelings for them to name a few.

It is important to know that there are free, confidential supportive services both on campus and in the community if you are a student who has experienced domestic violence, dating violence and/or stalking. The UW Oshkosh Counseling Center and/or Campus Victim Advocate can assist you with counseling support and advocacy for shelter, academics, medical and filing complaints if desired.

Christine Ann Domestic Abuse Services, Inc. in the community can assist with the same, as well as provide shelter on a temporary basis. Many who experience interpersonal violence feel alone but they are not alone.

The University is committed to provided the resources to help students secure their safety and heal.

Warning Signs that someone may be being abused/victimized may include:

  • Withdrawal from friends and/or activities
  • Absences from class, work or regular activities
  • Failing grades
  • Dramatic changes in mood or personality
  • Extensive concern about the partner’s anger, disapproval or happiness
  • Visible marks and bruises
  • Emotional outbursts
  • Overreacting to minor incidents
  • Difficulty making decisions without the partner
  • Constantly defending the abuser and may blame self
  • Changes in appearance

Warning Signs of a Potential Abusive Person may include:

  • Jealousy
  • Attempts at monitoring activities/relationships
  • Lack of respecting boundaries
  • Possessiveness
  • Threats and/or destruction of property
  • Verbal abuse
  • Puts others down
  • Use of humiliation
  • Controlling
  • Isolating person from support (family, friends, mentors)
  • Use of intimidation
  • Volatile temper
  • Forces unwanted sexual behavior
  • Blames the victim or others for the abuse
  • History of violence
  • Uses hurtful and/or discriminatory language about others based on gender, race, sexual orientation
  • Mean to animals or children
  • Breaking or hitting objects (example: punching a wall)

Any of these behaviors could take place in person or via text/social media.

Male Survivors of Sexual Assault

Male Survivors of Sexual Assault

Sexual assault is often considered to be a “woman’s problem.” However, men are also sexually assaulted. Men are are assaulted by other men and sometimes by women. Research suggests that approximately one out of every five males will be sexually abused as a child and some estimates suggest that as many at 16% of men will be sexually assaulted as an adult. Men can also experience interpersonal violence such as, dating/domestic violence and stalking.

Sometimes when a man is assaulted, he may be reluctant to report it or talk about the assault due to fears that is “manhood” will be questioned. Our culture teaches men to be tough, aggressive and “in control.”

When a man is sexually assaulted by another man, he may be reluctant to come forward for fear of being questioned about his sexual orientation or for fear of assumptions being made about his sexual orientation. This physical response can happen automatically and can happen even if the survivor is afraid, unwilling or even unconscious. However, some still may worry about being perceived as a willing participant.

It is important to remember that no matter where you were or what you did, you are not to blame. You are not responsible for the action of another person.

Talking with someone about your experiences can help your healing process. There are free and confidential services both on campus at the UW Oshkosh Counseling Center and in the Oshkosh community that survivors are encouraged to use.


Source: Male Survivors: Help for Victims, Family and Friends — published by the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault, September 2000

Myth v. Fact

Most sexual assaults are committed by strangers.

MYTH — 80% of sexual assaults are committed by someone the individuals knows (a friend, acquaintance, partner or family member).

In a recent survey, almost one-fourth of college females said they have been the victim of sexual assault or attempted sexual assault during their college years.

FACT — Based on college surveys across the country, 1 in 4 college women indicate they have been the victim of a sexual assault or attempted sexual assault during their college years.

Many women claim they were assaulted to protect their reputations or to seek revenge of someone.

MTYH — The incident of “false reporting” is an estimated 2%. Reporting a sexual assault is not easy and most sexual assaults are not reported. The false report rate is no greater than the false report rate for any other felony.

When a woman engages in other sexual acts, she implicitly demonstrates a desire to have intercourse.

MYTH — Consent cannot be assumed, one must obtain consent for sex. People engage in other sex acts (kissing, making out, etc.) because that is what they want to do. It is dangerous to assume that any level of intimacy indicates a desire for sex.

Women often provoke sexual assault by their own behavior, wearing low-cut or tight clothing, going out alone, staying out late, being drunk, flirting, etc.

MYTH — People cannot be held responsible for another person’s behavior. The perpetrator is solely responsible for his/her own actions. You cannot blame the victim for the perpetrator’s behavior.

Most acquaintance sexual assaults on college campuses involve alcohol.

FACT — 75% of acquaintance sexual assaults on college campuses involve alcohol. Alcohol impairs judgement and makes it more difficult to avoid dangerous situations. Limiting alcohol intake enhances personal safety — for many reasons. However, alcohol or drug use does not mean the victim of a sexual assault is to blame in any way for the assault.

Having sex with someone who is intoxicated is considered sexual assault. 

FACT — It could be, depended on the circumstances. Consent is deemed incapable of being given if the person’s physical and/or mental control is markedly diminished as the result of alcohol, other drugs, illness, injury or any other reason. It is the effect alcohol has on a person that impacts one’s ability to consent, not the use of alcohol.

You can tell if a person wants to have sex with you by their behavior and body language.

MYTH — Relying on body language or other cues is dangerous. The best method is to ask the other person — every time.

People say “no” to sex but they really mean “yes” — they just don’t want to appear “easy.”

MYTH — “No” means “NO”; one cannot assume that a person is playing “hard to get”, that puts everyone in a vulnerable position.

If she/he didn’t struggle or fight back, it was not sexual assault.

MYTH — Submission is not consent. Lack of a “no” does not mean “yes.” There are many reasons why it may not be “safe” or possible for a person to physically resist or fight back.