What is sexual assault?
Sexual assault is any sexual activity that occurs without the victim’s consent. These behaviors include, but are not limited to:
- Non-consensual kissing and fondling
- Non-consensual vaginal, oral, or anal sex
- Non-consensual vaginal, oral or anal penetration with an object or a finger
Other forms of sexual misconduct include:
- Any invasion of sexual privacy either in person or through audio or video recording
- Knowingly transmitting a sexually transmitted infection
- Exposing a person’s body or genitals
- Prostituting or soliciting another community member
These behaviors are a violation of our sexual misconduct policy in the Virginia Tech Student Code of Conduct and of Virginia law.
Test your knowledge of myths & facts about sexual assault
Society perpetuates a number of myths that can make it difficult to understand the true dynamics of sexual assault. These beliefs are culturally formulated, socially transmitted, and factually unfounded. Myths about sexual assault deny the violent, hostile, and demeaning nature of these crimes and often shift the blame from the abuser to the victim. Test your knowledge by clicking on the myths below.
Myths and Facts About Sexual Assault
FACT: Sexual assault is about the need for power and control. Humans can control how they choose to act on or express sexual urges.
FACT: Sexual assault is not about appearance or acts. Such victim-blaming is harmful and ignores the perpetrator’s actions and choices.
FACT: When someone says “no,” they mean NO. Not saying anything also means no. Any response besides “yes” means “no.” Sexual intercourse without consent is rape.
FACT: Any person of any gender identity can be a victim. Women and trans-gender people are involved more frequently, however, men can be and are sexually assaulted.
FACT: Most sexual assaults are committed by someone the victim knows.
Fact: Spouses, boyfriends, girlfriends, and partners can and do sexually assault each other. Being in a relationship or marriage does not give either partner the right to sexual activity of any kind without mutual, positive, and on-going consent.
When alcohol and drugs are involved
Whether someone was sexually assaulted after voluntarily or unknowingly drinking or doing drugs, the responsibility still lies with the perpetrator and the assault is not the victim’s fault. Virginia Tech and the police are more concerned about the assault than whether or not the victim was drinking.
“Drug facilitated sexual assault” is a term used to describe instances when drugs or alcohol are used to compromise an individual’s ability to consent to sexual activity and/or to minimize the individual’s resistance to and memory of the sexual assault.
If someone is mentally incapacitated or physically helpless due to alcohol or drugs, that person is unable to give consent to sexual activity. Perpetrators will often look for someone who is already drunk or high to the point of incapacitation. In other cases, perpetrators instead choose to push a potential victim to over-consume or to slip drugs into a potential victim’s drink without the victim’s knowledge.
It is important to note that the most commonly used drug in sexual assaults on college campuses is alcohol. Other common drugs are GHB, Rohypnol, and Ketamine. Over-the-counter and recreational drugs can also be used in sexual assaults.
It is sometimes difficult to tell if you were drugged without specific medical testing. Some common signs that you may have been drugged without your knowledge include:
- Higher than normal level of intoxication for the amount of alcohol or drugs consumed.
- Waking up with no memory of the night before, waking up in strange surroundings with no memory of getting there.
- Noticing signs of sexual activity with no memory of engaging in sexual activity.
- Remembering someone engaging in sexual activity with you, but feeling paralyzed and unable to react in the moment.
For more information about alcohol, visit Hokie Wellness.
What to do if You Have Experienced a Sexual Asasult
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, please know that assistance is available. Virginia Tech encourages all community members to seek help and report incidents of sexual assault.
- Help is available from many resources on and off campus. To learn what resources are available and what they can offer, go to our Get Help page. Please also see this page if you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual assault in the past 72 hours.
- Consider talking with a counselor who is trained to assist you with the emotional impact of sexual assault. You can contact the Women’s Center at Virginia Tech, 540-231-7806, the Virginia Tech Cook Counseling Center, 540-231-6557, or the Women’s Resource Center of the New River Valley, 540-639-1123.
- To assist you in accessing resources and understanding reporting options, contact an advocate from the Women’s Center at Virginia Tech, 540-231-7806, or from the Women’s Resource Center of the New River Valley, 540-639-1123.
- You have a right to stay in school. The Women’s Center at Virginia Tech has resources to help you get through tough semesters, or options if you are considering taking a break from campus. If you are having trouble attending classes or completing your academic assignments, papers, and/or exams, contact the Dean of Students Office, 540-231-3787, or the Cook Counseling Center, 540-231-6557, about academic relief.
- Virginia Tech encourages you to contact the police if you have been sexually assaulted. If the assault occurred on campus, contact the Virginia Tech Police Department, 540-231-6411. If the assault occurred off campus, contact the police department in the locality where the assault occurred.
- If you are or have been sexually assaulted by a student, consider making a report to the Title IX Coordinator, 540-231-1824. Sexual assault violates the Student Code of Conduct. Visit our Title IX at Virginia Tech page to learn more about the Title IX investigation process and your rights and responsibilities in that process.
- If you are, or have been, a victim of sexual assault by a professor, staff person, or other employee of the university, consider making a report to the Office of Equity and Accessibility, 540-231-2010.