Frequently Asked Questions about 
Sexual Assault

 What is sexual assault?

In its simplest definition, sexual assault is unwanted sexual contact. Sexual assault includes the act of rape (oral, anal or vaginal intercourse without consent) or forced penetration by a foreign object (including a finger). It also includes non-penetrating acts such as touching an unwilling person’s sexual parts (for example, breast, buttocks, genitalia), naked or through clothing, or forcing an unwilling person to touch another person’s sexual parts. Force includes the use of physical aggression, threats of physical aggression or sexual contact with a person who is unable to consent (for example, unconscious, intoxicated, asleep, etc.). Non-forceful coercion can also be used. Examples of this may be threatening to reveal secrets, to tell others the victim and perpetrator had sexual intercourse, to fire an employee or fail a student (these cases also fit the definition of sexual harassment) or threatening the victim’s friends or family members. 

Who commits sexual assault?

Sexual assaults are committed by strangers AND people the victim knows. In fact, most rapes and sexual assaults are committed by someone the victim knows: friends, acquaintances, dates, romantic partners, spouses or domestic partners.  

Who are victims of sexual assault?

Although people often think of rape as something that only happens to women, this isn’t true. Both men and women are raped or sexually assaulted, as are people of every ethnicity, age, culture, religion, economic background and sexual orientation.

Even if I haven’t been seriously hurt physically, could I still have been sexually assaulted?

Yes. ANY sexual contact forced upon you by someone against your will is illegal, against the Binghamton University Student Code of Conduct [503 kb .pdf] (which applies to students) and the Binghamton University Policy (which applies to faculty/staff). It’s illegal and wrong, even if you have been sexual with that person in the past or are currently being sexual, but don’t wish to go past certain limits. Examples include:
  • A stranger grabs your breast at a party or in a bar
  • A date insists you have sex even after you say you don’t want to
  • Your romantic partner of four years forces you to have sex
  • A person gets you drunk or slips a drug into your drink to get you to have sex with him/her

Can a sexual assault occur between two people of the same sex?

Yes. Rape and sexual assault occur between people of the same sex. As with opposite-sex sexual assault, the majority of same-sex sexual assault occurs between people who know each other or who are intimately involved.

What can I do if I’ve been sexually assaulted?

If you’ve been raped or sexually assaulted, or if think you have been but aren’t sure, it’s important to talk to someone. You may choose to:

*Note: If the assault happened off campus and you report it to the University Police, officers will assist you and take your report. However, they must refer you to the police department that has jurisdiction where the assault occurred. That police department will perform the investigation.

How long do I have to report a sexual assault?

The time frame for evidence collection in New York is 96 hours. If this time has passed, it’s still important to report the incident because your safety or another student’s safety may be in jeopardy and you may need medical treatment. In addition, seeking professional help will assist in your recovery process. 

More information can be found by visiting the How to File a Report webpage and the University's Title IX webpage.

Is confidential assistance is available?

IVP team members report concerns and university policy violations to the IVP Coordinator. Information obtained in this process will be kept as private as possible. Students retain the right to choose whether or not to initiate criminal charges and/or file a formal complaint through University grievance process. Members of the IVP team may have to disclose reported concerns to either the Director of Health and Counseling Services, Title IX Coordinator or Dean of Students office according to state and federal guidelines. Concerns about immediate safety and risk of harm are likely to be reported to university authorities.

How do victims typically respond to a sexual assault?

Those who have been sexually assaulted may exhibit a wide range of emotional responses: calm, apathetic, confused, shocked, angry, guilty or ashamed. Each person reacts differently and how the community responds to an individual’s crisis can significantly impact the individual’s ability to recover from the event.  

Last Updated: 3/17/14