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Sexual assault is any unwanted sexual activity without consent, including: unwanted vaginal, anal, or oral touching or penetration; battery; non-consensual sodomy; and non-consensual penetration with a foreign object.
Sexual assault can occur with any combination of genders, gender identities/expressions, and sexual orientations. Sexual assault is never the fault of the victim.
Offenders are always responsible for their choice to assault someone. The only person who can truly prevent sexual assault from occurring is the person who might perpetrate it.
For more information about the University sexual harassment and misconduct policies, see The Pilot.
According to a Department of Justice report , "Ninety percent of college women who are victims of rape or attempted rape know their assailant. The attacker is usually a classmate, friend, boyfriend, ex-boyfriend, or other acquaintance (in order)." Additionally, an acquaintance, a family member, or a stranger can commit sexual assaults.
Victims of sexual assault can be women or men, and sexual assault can occur between individuals of the same sex or gender. It is estimated that around 92,748 men are raped each year. According to the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR), most of the time when a male is sexually assaulted, the perpetrator is a male (meaning females can also sexually assault males), although this has nothing to do with the sexual orientation of the victim or offender. In fact, 11-12% of rapes occur to men.
"Acquaintance" rape is a common term used to describe rapes by someone the victim knows or is acquainted with. However, many organizations are challenging this term recognizing that it may "soften" the reality of the criminal act. Rape is rape, whether committed by a stranger or an acquaintance.
There are many philosophies about the nature of sexual assaults, but advocates agree that sexual assault is not about "sex," per se. According to Susan Brownmiller in her book Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape, rape is a crime of violence, not of passion.
What is Sexual Assault?
Sexual assault is sexual penetration or intrusion (such as inserting an object) against your will and without your consent. Sexual assault can occur by physical force, coercion, threat, pressure, or trickery. This includes situations in which a victim is drunk, drugged, unconscious, or otherwise unable to full consent.
Types of Sexual Assault include:
- Inappropriate touching
- Vaginal, anal, or oral penetration
- Sexual intercourse that you say no to
- Rape (Including date rape and acquaintance rape)
- Attempted rape
- Child molestation
Sexual assault can be verbal, visual, or anything that forces a person to join in unwanted sexual contact or attention.
Examples of this are:
- Voyeurism (when someone watches private sexual acts)
- Exhibitionism (when someone exposes him/herself in public)
- Incest (sexual contact between family members)
- Sexual harassment
What do I do if I’ve or someone I know has been Sexually Assaulted?
What do I do if I have been sexually assaulted?
These are important steps to take right away after an assault:
- Get away from the attacker to a safe place as fast as you can. Then call 911 or the police.
- Call a friend or family member you trust. You also can call a crisis center or a hotline to talk with a counselor. Feelings of shame, guilt, fear, and shock are normal. It is important to get counseling from a trusted professional.
- Do not wash, comb, or clean any part of your body. Do not change clothes if possible, so the hospital staff can collect evidence. Do not touch or change anything at the scene of the assault
- Go to your nearest hospital emergency room as soon as possible. You need to be examined, treated for any injuries, and screened for possible sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or pregnancy. The doctor will collect evidence using a rape kit for fibers, hairs, saliva, semen, or clothing that the attacker may have left behind.
Local Hospitals Include:
- Bloomsburg Hospital at (570) 387-2100
- Geisinger Hospital in Danville at (570) 271-6211
While at the hospital:
If you decide you want to file a police report, you or the hospital staff can call the police from the emergency room.
- Ask the hospital staff to connect you with the local rape crisis center or Women’s Center. The center staff can help you make choices about reporting the attack and getting help through counseling and support groups.
What if I do not have insurance or want my insurance billed?
Pennsylvania's Crime Victim's Act will assist victims of all crimes, including sexual assault. If you've been assaulted and don't have health insurance, or you don't want medical costs [from the hospital emergency room] billed to your insurance, you have the right to request that all medical costs be charged to the Crime Victim's Compensation Fund.
All of your medical information will remain confidential. Remember, you must request this once you are in the hospital emergency room.
- Victims Compensation Program
P.O. Box 1167
Harrisburg, Pa 17108-1167
Phone: (800) 233-2339 or (717)783-5153
What are the common effects of Sexual Assault?
Victims of sexual assault often experience a number of common effects.
- Difficulty falling or staying asleep
- Anger and rage
- Difficulty concentrating
- Anxiety and panic
- Self-blame, guilt, and shame
- Emotional numbing
- Physical symptoms and health problems
What to do if someone you know is Sexually Assaulted?
Believe them. A person has very little to gain by making up a story about sexual assault.
- Listen to them. A victim of sexual assault needs someone who will listen to what they have to say without blame or judgment.
- Do not tell them what to do. A person who has been sexually assaulted has had every ounce of power and control stripped from them. They only way they are going to gain that power back is by making decisions for themselves.
- Give them information, provide them options, but don't tell them what to do. A great place to get information is the Bloomsburg City Women’s Center, Inc. Women’s Center at 800-544-8293 or (570)-784-6631, the Bloomsburg University Women’s Resource Center at (570) 389-5283 or your local hospitals.