What is sexual assault?

The following summarized definition, based on Iowa law, appears in the Drake Code of Student Conduct:

Sexual abuse [assault]:  Any nonconsensual sexual act, including those committed through force, threat, intimidation or against the will of another. This includes, but is not limited to, situations where consent of the other is obtained by threats of violence toward any person or if the sex contact or sex act is done while the victim is incapacitated beyond consent (such as by alcohol or a drug-inducing sleep) or where the victim is unconscious.

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)