Definitions of Sexual Assault
There are a variety of definitions for sexual assault in both the legal and social realm. Generally, sexual assault is understood to be unwanted sexual contact of any kind. However, legally the definition can change depending on the state. Some states use the words rape and sexual assault interchangeably.
In the State of North Dakota sexual assault is referred to as gross sexual imposition and includes both sexual acts (rape) and sexual contact (all other touching, above or below clothes). The North Dakota Century Code Chapter 12. 1-20 reads in part:
1. A person who engages in a sexual act with another, or who causes another to engage in a sexual act, is guilty of an offense if:
a. That person compels the victim to submit by force or by threat of imminent death, serious bodily injury, or kidnapping, to be inflicted on any human being;
b. That person or someone with that person's knowledge has substantially impaired the victim's power to appraise or control the victim's conduct by administering or employing without the victim's knowledge intoxicants, a controlled substance as defined in chapter 19-03.1, or other means with intent to prevent resistance;
c. That person knows or has reasonable cause to believe that the victim is unaware that a sexual act is being committed upon him or her;
d. The victim is less than fifteen years old; or
e. That person knows or has reasonable cause to believe that the other person suffers from a mental disease or defect which renders him or her incapable of understanding the nature of his or her conduct.
2. A person who engages in sexual contact with another, or who causes another to engage in sexual contact, is guilty of an offense if:
a. The victim is less than fifteen years old;
b. That person compels the victim to submit by force or by threat of imminent death, serious bodily injury, or kidnapping, to be inflicted on any human being; or
c. That person knows or has reasonable cause to believe that the victim is unaware that sexual contact is being committed on the victim.
To review the entire statute, please see the following link:
In North Dakota State University policy:
Sexual assault is any sexual behavior between two or more people to which one person does not or cannot consent. In describing sexual assault, NDSU relies upon North Dakota state law concerning sexual imposition which is much broader than the traditional concept of rape. NDSU prohibits sexual acts or contacts with others which can involve compelling a survivor to submit to sexual acts or contacts by force or threat of force, use of intoxicants to substantially impair the survivor's power to give consent, engaging in such acts when there is reasonable cause to believe the survivor suffers from a mental state which renders him or her incapable of understanding the nature of the contact or where the survivor is under fifteen years of age. The abuse of alcohol or other substances does not relieve individuals of their responsibilities to themselves or others. Prohibited behavior includes all forcible and non-forcible sex offenses provided for under North Dakota state law. Examples of prohibited behavior include but are not limited to the following:
1) Acquaintance or date rape
2) Stranger rape
3) Indecent exposure
4) Attempted sexual acts by use of verbal or non-verbal threats
Just under 3% of all college women become victims of rape throughout a single academic year¹
9 in 10 offenders of sexual assault are known to the victim¹
Almost 90% of rapes take place between 6:00 pm and 6:00 am²
The majority of the sexual victimization of college students takes place in a place of residence²
Less than 5% of completed and attempted rapes are reported to the police²
35% of college men reported that they would commit sexual assault if they knew they would get away with it³
74% of perpetrators and 55% of victims of rape in a college setting had been drinking alcohol⁴
According to one study, 3/4 of college date rapists indicated that they purposefully got a date intoxicated to have sexual intercourse with her⁴
¹(United States Department of Justice. (2005) Sexual Assault on Campus: What Colleges and Universities are Doing about It. www.ojp.usdoj.gov/nij)
²United States Department of Justice (2000) The Sexual Victimization of College Women.
³Yeater, Elizabeth. A, O’Donohue, William. (1999) “Sexual Assault Prevention Programs: Current issues, future directions, and the potential efficacy of interventions with women.” Clinical Psychology Review
4Abby, Antonia. (2002) Alcohol Related Sexual Assault: A Common Problem among college students. Journal of Studies on Alcohol. Supplement NO 14, 2002