Sexual Assault

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What is sexual assault?

Sexual assault is any sexual act directed against another person, that is forcible and/or against that person’s will; or, where the victim is incapable of giving consent. Sexual assault as defined by NH RSA 632-A:1 is illegal. In addition, UNH has a clear policy regarding sexual misconduct between students.

Who perpetrates sexual assault?

Men and women both commit sexual assault; however, research shows us that men perpetrate crimes of sexual assault more often than women. The majority of perpetrators are known to the victim; either as an acquaintance, date, partner, relative or friend.

Who are victims of sexual assault?

Sexual assault or rape can happen to anyone regardless of gender, age, ability, sexual orientation, gender identity, socio-economic status or race.  

What is consent?

Consent is a verbal or unspoken agreement that two people share before they have sex. Communication during sex can sometimes be confusing and unclear. It is important that partners understand one another.

Expressed Permission

Seeking and receiving expressed permission to engage in sexual activity is least ambiguous when the behavior of seeking and expressing permission is done with words. Although it may be possible to seek and express permission without words, consent is far clearer when done with words. Ambiguity can lead a person to think that they sought permission or received permission when in fact they did not.

What to do if you have been sexually assaulted:

Steps to take:

  • Go to a safe place.
  • If you want to report the crime, notify the police immediately. Reporting the crime can help you regain a sense of personal power and control and can also help to ensure the safety of other potential victims.
  • Call a friend, a family member, or someone else you trust and ask her or him to stay with you.
  • Preserve all physical evidence of the assault. Do not shower, bathe, douche, or brush your teeth. Save all of the clothing you were wearing at the time of the assault. Place each item of clothing in a separate paper bag. Do not use plastic bags. Do not disturb anything in the area where the assault occurred.
  • Go to a hospital emergency department or a specialized forensic clinic that provides medical care for sexual assault victims. Even if you think that you do not have any physical injuries, you should still have a medical examination and discuss with a health care provider the risk of exposure to sexually transmitted diseases and the possibility of pregnancy resulting from the sexual assault.
  • If you suspect that you may have been given a rape drug, ask the hospital or clinic where you receive medical care to take a urine sample. Rape drugs, such as Rohypnol and GHB, are more likely to be detected in urine than in blood.
  • Write down as much as you can remember about the circumstances of the assault, including a description of the assailant.
  • Talk with a confidential SHARPP advocate who is trained to assist rape victims about the emotional and physical impacts of the assault. SHARPP advocates are available 24-hours a day, 365 days a year. You can call our 24-hour support line at (603) 862-7233 (SAFE), or visit us, Monday-Friday, 8-4:30pm in Wolff House (In Front of Health Services).
  • If you want information about legal issues, medical care, or other concerns related to the assault, SHARPP can assist you.
  • SHARPP can assist internally at UNH with advocating on the survivor's behalf around classes and within other offices at the University.