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Sexual Assault

Learn about sexual assault and how to find help for yourself or a friend.

What is Sexual Assault?

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Sexual assault encompasses all unwanted sexual behaviors, including rape. Everything from nonconsensual kissing and fondling to forced oral, anal or vaginal sex, is an act of sexual assault.

Rape is any sexual intercourse without a person's consent. Rape includes instances where sex is forced, and/or against a person's will, and/or occurs while a person is incapable of giving consent.

What is consent?

Consent is:
  • Positive cooperation in act or attitude pursuant to an exercise of free will. The person must act freely, voluntarily and have knowledge of the nature of the act or transaction involved (CA Penal Code 261.6.)
  • Words or actions that show a person wants to engage in mutually agreed-upon sexual activity.
  • Necessary every time for every sexual act.
  • Necessary every time, whether during a one-time encounter or within an ongoing relationship.
Consent CANNOT be given when:
  • A person is unconscious.
  • A person is under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • A person is under the age of 18.
  • A person is incapable of giving consent because of a mental, physical, or developmental disability.
  • A person feels pressured, coerced, or manipulated into having sex.
  • A person feels fear or is threatened.

Find Help

If you're in immediate danger, call 911 immediately.

If you're a UC San Diego student (undergraduate, graduate, or international student), staff, or faculty, call CARE at the Sexual Assault Resource Center at 858-534-5793, and we can provide you with free and confidential* counseling and advocacy services.

If you are a friend, partner, or family member of someone who was sexually assaulted, you are welcome to call our office and find out what resources are available for you, too. You'll need support so you can continue to help your loved one.

*All communications with users of CARE services are privileged and confidential under California Evidence Code Sections 1010-1027, 1035.2 and 1037.2. Accordingly, employees in the CARE Office are not mandatory reporters under Title IX or the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act.

24-hour hotlines:

UC San Diego Police (non-emergency): (858) 534-HELP (5793)

Center for Community Solutions (CCS) Rape Crisis Hotline: 1 (888) 385-4657

Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)

Sexual Assault Online Hotline offers live help on the RAINN website, where you can ask any questions or express any concerns in a private instant-messaging session with a trained volunteer.

Myths and facts about sexual assault

Myth: Sexual assault happens in dark alleys by strange men who jump out of bushes.

Fact: The majority of sexual assaults happen between people who know one another. The most common relationships are classmates, friends, and boyfriends/ex-boyfriends.1 On college campuses, most assaults take place in the home of either the victim or the offender. Because most victims know their offenders, they are less likely to report the crime. Sometimes the offender is within a victim's group of friends, so it can be difficult to share their experience with mutual friends.

Myth: Most rapes involve a weapon or a "date rape" drug.

Fact: In 85% of sexual assaults, there is no weapon involved2. "Date rape" drugs are also not as common. In most cases, alcohol can serve as a weapon, with a majority of rapes involving alcohol consumption by either the victim or the offender3.

Myth: Only women can be raped.

Fact: Although the majority of rapes involve male offenders and female victims, sexual assault affects both men and women, regardless of age, sexual orientation, gender identification, socioeconomic background, etc. Rape can happen to both college age men and women. One study found that approximately one in five women are raped during their college years1. Another study found that 6.1% of college men experience a completed or attempted sexual assault3.


1 Fisher, B.S., Cullen, F.T., & Tuner, M.G. (2000). The sexual victimization of college women. (Report No. NCJ 182369). Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice.

2Truman, J.L. & Rand, M.R. (2009). Criminal Victimization, 2009. (Report No. NCJ 231327). Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice.

3Krebs, C.P., Lindquist, C.H., Warner, T.D., Fisher, B.S., Martin, S.L. (2007). The campus sexual assault (CSA) study. (Report No. 221153). Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice.