What is Sexual Assault?

Sexual assault is a form of sexual misconduct ranging from forcible rape to nonphysical forms of pressure that compel individuals to engage in sexual activity against their will. In Iowa, the terms “rape” and “sexual assault” fall under the legal definition of “sexual abuse,” which includes any sex act done by force or against the will of another.

Examples of sexual assault under this policy include, but are not limited to, the following behaviors when consent is not present:
  • Sexual intercourse (vaginal, anal)
  • Oral sex
  • Rape or attempted rape 
  • Penetration of an orifice (anal, vaginal, oral) with the penis, finger, or other object
  • Unwanted touching of the genitals, buttocks, breast, or other body part
  • Coercion or force to make someone else touch one’s genitals, buttocks, breast, or other body part
  • Engaging in sexual activity with a person who is unable to provide consent due to the influence of drugs, alcohol, or other condition
  • Inducing consent through drugs or alcohol
  • Ejaculation onto the person of another

Sexual coercion broadens the scope to include strategies used to pressure someone into having sex that may not fall under a legal definition, including emotional manipulation, social status pressure, constant pressure after an initial refusal, use of alcohol to lower inhibitions, and other types of pressure.

Contrary to widespread stranger-rape myths, in the vast majority of cases of sexual assault — between 80 and 90 percent — the victim and assailant know each other. In fact, the more intimate the relationship, the more likely it is for a rape to be completed rather than attempted. Half of all student victims do not label the incident “rape.” This is particularly true when no weapon was used, no sign of physical injury is evident and when alcohol was involved — factors commonly associated with campus acquaintance rape. (Source: National Institute for Justice)


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Confidential Resources

Quick contacts to reach a confidential advocate

  • VIP peer-student advocacy
    515-512-2972 (call or text)
  • Polk County Crisis and Advocacy
  • Cowles Library 109 during the academic year
        - Tuesdays 2:30-4:30
        - Thursdays 9:00-11:00