Sexual Assault

What is Sexual Assault?

Sexual Assault is any unwanted physical contact that is sexual in nature (kissing, fondling, intercourse, etc.) and that occurs against a person’s will and/or without her/his consent.

Any individual who is mentally incapacitated, unconscious, or unaware that the sexual activity is occurring is considered to be unable to give consent.

Force may involve physical violence, the threat of physical violence, coercion, and the intentional impairment of the person’s power to appraise the situation through the administration of any substance.

This definition applies whether the perpetrator is a stranger or an acquaintance.

Use of drugs or alcohol by the accused/perpetrator is not a defense against allegations of sexual assault and does not diminish personal accountability or criminal liability.

Points to Remember

  • Rape is not the survivor’s fault.
  • Rape is not sex. It is violence.
  • Nobody asks for or deserves rape.
  • Survivors do not cause rape.
  • Rapists cause rape.
  • Previous sex does not imply continued permission.
  • NO means NO in all situations.
  • NO means NO in all situations.
  • Approximately 20-25% of women will be raped during their college career. (Department of Justice report, 2006).

Myths & Facts

Myth: It could never happen to me.

Fact - Everyone is a potential rape victim: females/males of any age, race, class, religion, occupation, education, or sexual orientation.

Myth: Most rapes occur in a dark alley by a stranger or a crazed individual.

Fact - Over 50% of reported rapes occur in the home and 80% of sexual assaults reported by college women and adult women were perpetrated by close friends or family members.

Myth: Women secretly enjoy or want to be raped.

Fact - No woman, man, or child enjoys or wants to be raped. It is the brutal intrusion on the mind, body, and spirit that can result in lasting trauma.

Myth: Women “ask for it” by their dress and actions.

Fact - Rapists look for victims that they perceive as vulnerable, not those who dress or behave in a particular way. Assuming that women provoke attacks by where they are or the way they dress is victim-blaming. No one asks to be hurt or degraded.

Myth: Women “cry” rape.

Fact - Only 2% of reported rape and related sex offenses are false, the same rate of false reports for other crimes. Although many cases are dropped because of insufficient evidence for convictions, this should not be confused with false reporting.

Myth: Women who are drunk are ready and willing to engage in sexual activity.

Fact - The fact that a woman has been drinking does not imply consent. Alcohol and drugs can render a woman or man incapable of consent.

Common Reactions To Sexual Assault

  • Depression
  • Powerlessness
  • Disorientation
  • Flashbacks
  • Nightmares
  • Denial
  • Fear
  • Anxiety
  • Shock
  • Disbelief
  • Embarrassment
  • Shame
  • Guilt
  • Numbness
  • Self-Blame
  • Anger

What To Do If You Have Been Sexually Assaulted

DO consider seeking immediate medical attention to rule out injury, pregnancy, and/or STDs.

DON’T shower, change clothes, or eat or drink before seeking medical attention. These are important factors in the event you decide to report it.

DO talk with a trusted individual about what happened.

DON’T blame yourself or play the “what if” game.

DON’T feel pressured by anyone else’s point of view on reporting or prosecuting.

DO write down everything you remember as soon as possible.

DON’T be afraid to ask questions of professionals or authorities or let them know if you feel uncomfortable.

DO seek counseling to help you deal with what happened and start the healing process.

What to Do If Someone You Know Has Been Sexually Assaulted

  • Listen without judging.
  • Offer shelter and transportation.
  • Be available.
  • Empower and encourage.
  • Do not tell him/her what to do.
  • Give comfort.
  • Be patient and understanding.
  • Do not be overly protective.
  • Accept his/her choices, regardless of what you think is best.
  • Seek outside help to deal with your own reactions to the situation.
  • Encourage him/her to seek counseling.
  • Do not blame the assault survivor or yourself.
  • Give him/her time and space to heal.

How to Protect Yourself from Sexual Assault

  • Keep track of your own drink and get a new one if it has been out of your sight.
  • Never accept beverages in an open container.
  • Set up contacts with your friends to watch out for each other and help each other in unsafe situations or places.
  • Trust your gut instinct. If you are uncomfortable in a situation or with a person, it's okay to leave. It’s better to be safe.
  • Project a confident and assertive manner. Walk with your head up, aware of your surroundings.
  • Don’t walk alone, especially at night or in an unfamiliar area.
  • Be careful when talking on a cell phone while walking late at night, which can make you more distracted and vulnerable to an attack.
  • Be clear and assertive about your limits.
  • Say NO clearly.

Where To Get Help

SHSU Counseling Center

(936) 294-1720

SHSU Student Health Center

(936) 294-1805

SHSU University Police Dept. (non-emergency)

(936) 294-1794

Huntsville SAAFE House-Hotline

(936) 291-3369

Huntsville SAAFE House-Office

(936) 291-3529

Montgomery County Women’s Center

(936) 441-7273

Texas Association Against Sexual Assault


Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network


Sam Houston Counseling Center

1608 Avenue J., Box 209  | Huntsville, TX 77341-2059  | Phone: 936.294.1720 | Fax: 936.294.2639