Rape and sexual assault can happen to women and men anywhere in the world. In the United States violence, specifically sexual assault, continues to be a serious problem oncollege and university campuses. Sexual assault is defined as any unwanted sexual contact, including rape.
Victims do not cause sexual assault. It is wrong for anyone to have any sexual contact with you without your consent—regardless of how well someone knows you, how much you’ve had to drink, or whether some of the sexual activity was consensual.
It is considered rape if:
- you’re too drunk to understand a person trying to say “No”
- you’re too drunk to listen and respect a person trying to say “No”
- you have sex with a person who is incapable of giving consent.
Even if you think you would never force sex on a person, you might lose control if you have been drinking.
If you have been sexually assaulted while abroad, get yourself to a safe place and consider talking to a friend and/or to the relevant local staff/ Pitt faculty member abroad as soon asmpossible. If you find yourself in a situation where you cannot make it home for the night, be sure you are in a safe and secure environment. Call your local contact or Pitt faculty member/program assistant immediately. And, consider getting medical attention.
Reporting the incident to law or university officials is completely up to you. Understanding that reporting is an intensely personal process, and is considered empowering and therapeutic for some yet emotionally draining and unsatisfactory for others, the University respects your right to decide whether or not to report.
Be aware, though, that some countries will require the attending physician to alert the police. You may receive an exam and avoid legal involvement by not disclosing the sexual assault to the medical professionals if you do not want to report the assault to the police.
You may have some of these feelings soon after the attack and some may develop later on, even years later. This is normal after such trauma and you should consider getting help and advice from a counselor or support group whenever you feel you need to. Pitt can provide you with information on what professional and legal help is available to you—both locally and in the US.
MYTH: Rape is uncommon.
REALITY: According to United States Department of Justice document, Criminal Victimization in the United States, there were overall 191,670 victims of rape or sexual assault reported in 2005.
Only 16 percent of rapes and sexual assaults are reported to the police (Rape in America: A Report to the Nation, 1992).
Worldwide, a United Nations statistical report compiled from government sources showed that more than 250,000 cases of male-female rape or attempted rape were recorded by police annually. The reported data covered 65 countries.
MYTH: There are many false rape reports. Many women make false rape accusations because they changed their mind after having sex, or in order to get revenge on someone.
REALITY: False rape reports are very rare and are not more common than for any other felony crime. In reality, sexual assault is the most underreported violent crime in the U.S. 84 percent of rapes are never reported to the police.
MYTH: Sexual assault is an impulsive crime of passion and lust.
REALITY: Rape is not sex. Sexual assault uses sex as a weapon to dominate, humiliate, and punish victims. Perpetrators plan most sexual assaults in advance. Sexual violence is not just an
individual or relationship problem, but stems from institutional sexism, racism, heterosexism, and other forms of oppression.
MYTH: Only young, attractive women are sexually assaulted.
REALITY: Sexual assault is a crime of power and control, not sexual attraction, and perpetrators often choose victims whom they perceive as vulnerable. Sexual assault survivors include people
of all ages, gender identities, sexual orientations, races, classes, etc.
MYTH: Men cannot be raped.
REALITY: Men represent 13 percent of sexual assault survivors. Typically, the perpetrator is a heterosexual male. Being sexually assaulted cannot “make someone gay.”