What is Sexual Violence?

What is Sexual Assault?

Forced sexual contact that is perpetrated without consent upon an individual by another.

“Illegal sexual contact that usually involves force upon a person without consent or is inflicted upon a person who is incapable of giving consent (Webster, 2019)”

What is Sexual Violence?

Sexual violence is an umbrella term that refers to all types of forcible sexually oriented crimes. This includes rape, sexual assault, sexual abuse of children, intimate partner sexual violence, drug-facilitated sexual assault, incest and sexual abuse of men and boys (RAINN, 2019).

Sexual assault can take many forms such as fondling or touching that is of a sexual nature and is not wanted, forced penetration or forced oral sex on a perpetrator and forced penetration of a victim (rape).

Forced contact when referring to sexual assault can be emotional or physical. Force can also be applied in the form of a verbal threat or intimidation when such threats are made against an individual, their family or friends to evoke compliance with the demands of a perpetrator.

Sexual violence is a big public health problem in the United States and on college campuses. According to the RAINN.org, in America a person is assaulted every 73 seconds.  Female students on college and university campuses are 3 times as likely to encounter sexual violence. Male students on college and university campuses are at a higher risk for encountering sexual violence than those males who don’t attend college. The risk increases for LGBTQ individuals on college campuses. Among this population, 21% report being sexually assaulted. Native American individuals have the highest incidence of sexual violence, being twice as likely to be assaulted.

Effects of Sexual Violence

The effects of sexual violence can vary from PTSD to depression, to suicidal ideations and attempts. Victims of sexual assault and rape also report high rates of drug and alcohol use and abuse. Behavior changes including unusual eating patterns, insomnia, and self-harm.

Physical effects of sexual assault and sexual violence include bruising in various areas of the body, scars, scratches, pregnancy, pain, soreness, challenges with walking and bleeding in vaginal and anal areas of the body.

For college students, sexual assault can negatively impact academic performance and social activities leading to isolation, depression, emotional stress, PTSD, and inability to complete classwork and assignments.

Students may also experience behavior and relationship changes with classmates, professors, advisors and roommates in the college setting. All of these can profoundly change a student’s ability to complete the college education.

Myths about Sexual Violence

“It’s the persons fault because of the way they were dressed”
It is a person’s prerogative to dress however they choose. Therefore, it is never acceptable or appropriate to perpetrate sexual violence upon a person because they were dressed a certain way.

“The individual deserved it because of their behavior”
It is never appropriate to attack someone because they behave a certain way. There are ways to address behavior that don’t include violence or aggressive acts.

“They asked for it”
No one asks to be sexually attacked or raped. To the contrary, everyone asks to be treated with dignity and respect. That includes being asked for permission prior to being touched, kissed, fondled, or engaging in sexual acts such as vaginal or anal intercourse with another person.

“Sexual assault and sexual violence only happens to women”
Sexual assault and sexual violence does not discriminate and can happen to anyone, anywhere, anytime. The best strategy for prevention and elimination of sexual assault and sexual violence is education and awareness as well as mobilization of everyone everywhere.

What can be done?

Students at NMHU can receive confidential, immediate assistance from the Center for Advocacy, Resources, Education and Support (CARES) staff at the Main Campus in Las Vegas and at the statewide centers. CARES team members are certified advocates and educators and trained to provide confidential trauma-informed care to victims of sexual assault and sexual violence.

CARES services include accompanying survivors of sexual assault to interviews with campus police, court hearings and assisting in finding resources for counseling. CARES staff members also provide advocacy and support services in the areas of academics, housing, and other university departments.

Students, faculty and staff can contact CARES after hours using the crisis lines.


Student Union Bldg (SUB) Rm 328.

Phone numbers

Main campus: 505-454-3529

Rio Rancho: 505-891-6930

24-hour crisis lines: 505-429-4505 or 505-795-3665

Email: preventviolence@nmhu.edu


Video on sexual assault: https://vimeo.com/39744034

End Rape on Campus: https://endrapeoncampus.org

Male Survivors of Sexual Violence: https://malesurvivor.org/

Effects of Sexual Assault and Sexual Rape: http://www.joyfulheartfoundation.org/learn/sexual-assault-rape/effects-sexual-assault-and-rape

Rape Abuse and Incest National Network: https://rainn.org/

National Sexual Violence Resource Center: https://www.nsvrc.org/

Department of Defense Helpline: https://www.safehelpline.org/