What is Sexual Assault?
Sexual assault is any unwanted, non-consensual sexual act in which a person is threatened, coerced or forced to comply against their will, or where a person is unable to give consent because they are a minor, unconscious, asleep or incapacitated due to drugs or alcohol. Sexual assault can include unwanted, non-consensual oral, anal or vaginal sexual intercourse, penetration with a foreign object (i.e. fingers, sex toys, etc.) or sexual battery (non-consensual touching of the breasts, buttocks or genitalia).
Perpetrators of sexual assault may be known or unknown to the victim; they might be a date, partner, spouse, acquaintance, family member or stranger.
In California, consent is defined as positive cooperation; it must be freely and voluntarily given, and all participants must have knowledge and understanding of the act. Consent cannot be given where:
- Force, threat of force, coercion or fraud is used to gain compliance
- Someone is incapacitated due to alcohol or other drug use
- Someone is asleep or unconscious
- Someone is under the legal age of consent (18 years old in California)
Consent can also be revoked, even in the middle of a sex act. If someone physically or verbally communicates to the other person that they do not wish to continue with the sexual act or encounter, that other person must immediately stop. If they do not stop when asked, any sex act after consent has been revoked is considered assault.
Additionally, the UC Davis Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment Policy requires consent to be affirmative and unambiguous.
What should I do if I'm a victim of sexual assault?
The first thing you should know is that sexual assault is NEVER the victim’s fault.
Your safety is most important; please make sure you are in a safe place. If you have any injuries that need medical attention, you may choose to go to the hospital or the Student Health and Wellness Center. The Student Health Center may also be able to help you obtain testing for sexually transmitted infections and emergency contraception.
If the sexual assault happened within 72 hours, you may choose to have an evidentiary exam in order to collect evidence of the assault. Usually, law enforcement approves the exam for evidentiary purposes; however, if you are not sure you want to report the assault to the police, you may be eligible for an exam as specified by the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). A VAWA exam may allow you to have evidence collected while it’s still possible, and give you some time to think about reporting the crime. Please note that VAWA applies to all victims of sexual assault, regardless of gender.
Please note that the UC Davis Student Health & Wellness Center does not conduct evidentiary exams. These exams are provided by the Bridging Evidence Assessment & Resources (BEAR) program in Sacramento. For more information about the evidentiary exam process and purpose, please contact the University CARE advocate at 530-752-3299.