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.

 Rape and sexual assault can happen to women and men of all ages and backgrounds. While most Pitt students abroad do not experience sexual assault, Pitt officials are becoming more aware of students being sexually assaulted while abroad because students are choosing to report. Sexual assault is a very traumatic experience—whenever and wherever it happens—bu it may be more difficult to deal with when it happens in an unfamiliar setting. Pitt officials on campus and abroad and host institution officials will be as helpful and responsive as possible with you if you choose to report rape or sexual assault, or attempted rape or sexual assault.

Cultural and social attitudes toward rape and sexual assault victims may vary greatly in different countries. The support you receive from law officials and others, in addition to the resources available to you, will vary from country to country. In the United States, for example, if you tell a medical professional that you have been raped, he or she is legally required to report your name and situation to the police. However, you have the legal right to refuse speaking with the police. Laws in other countries may provide you with more or less decision making power. Therefore, it is important to consult with local staff/faculty abroad.

If you decide against reporting the incident to the police, it is still a good idea to have a medical exam to see if you were injured and to check for sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy.

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.

Different people react to the trauma of sexual assault in different ways. As a survivor, you might feel angry, ashamed, frightened, or guilty. You may have different feelings at different times.

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.”