Carnegie Mellon University

Sexual Assault

Sexual Assault

Engaging in any physical sexual act perpetrated:

  • against a person’s will,
  • where that person does not give clear, voluntary consent, or
  • where that person is incapable of giving consent due to drug or alcohol use, or due to intellectual disability.

Source: Carnegie Mellon Policy Against Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault.  See also: Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, Title 18, Sections 3121; 3123; 3124.1; 3125 and 3126.

Rape

A form of sexual assault defined by Pennsylvania law as engaging in sexual intercourse with another person:

  1. By forcible compulsion;
  2. By threat of forcible compulsion that would prevent resistance by a person of reasonable resolution;
  3. Who is unconscious;
  4. Who is unaware that the sexual intercourse is occurring and the perpetrator knows that;
  5. Where the person has substantially impaired the victim’s power to appraise or control his or her conduct by administering or employing, without the knowledge of the victim, drugs, intoxicants or other means for the purpose of preventing resistance;
  6. Who suffers from a mental disability, which renders the victim incapable of consent.

Source: Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, Title 18, Section 3121.

Consent

A voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity.

  1. Someone who is incapacitated cannot consent;
  2. Past consent does not mean future consent;
  3. Silence or an absence of resistance does not imply consent;
  4. Consent to engage in sexual activity with one person does not imply consent to engage in sexual activity with another.
  5. Consent can be withdrawn at any time;
  6. Coercion, force or a threat of either invalidates consent.

Source:  Not Alone: The First Report of The White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault – Checklist for Campus Sexual Misconduct Policies, April 29, 2014.

Incapacitation

The physical and/or mental inability to make informed, rational judgments such as:

  1. Due to the use of drugs or alcohol;
  2. When a person is sleeping or unconscious;
  3. Due to an intellectual or other disability that prevents the person from having the capacity to give consent.

Source:  Not Alone: The First Report of The White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault – Checklist for Campus Sexual Misconduct Policies, April 29, 2014.

  • 1 in 5 college-aged women are victims of attempted or completed sexual assault.
  • 1 in 33 college-aged men (including 1 in 11 men who identify as gay or bisexual) are victims of attempted or completed sexual assault.
  • 90% of sexual assaults are committed by someone known by the victim (a friend, acquaintance or dating partner).
  • Up to 78% of reported sexual assaults in college occur in a “hook up” context.
  • 75% or more of reported sexual assaults in college involve alcohol.

Sources: Everfi, Haven: Understanding Sexual Assault (June 2015); S. Roberts, et al, Consent, Credibility and Confidentiality: Tackling Challenges in Title IX Investigations, NACUA Annual Conference (June 2014)

  1. Get to a safe place.  Contact a friend, family member, University Police, your RA or Housefellow, or someone else you trust.
  2. Seek medical attention. University Police can escort you to a local hospital (call 412-268-2323).
  3. Preserve physical evidence. Avoid showering, douching, or changing clothes or bedding before you seek medical attention.
  4. Consider contacting PAAR's crisis hotline, or any of the Resources available to you, for support, resources, information and referrals.
  5. Consider contacting the Office of Title IX Initiatives to learn about support and safety measures the University can offer, and consider your options for investigation and possible resolution.
  6. Consider contacting law enforcement, whether University Police or local police.  You have the right to choose whether or not to notify law enforcement, and the Office of Title IX Initiatives can assist you in notifying law enforcement if you choose.

Below are some practical strategies for reducing risk of sexual assault, but it is important to note that no strategy can fully eliminate the risk of sexual assault, and that it is never your fault if you are sexually assaulted.

Understanding and Obtaining Consent

It is important to understand that 90% of sexual assaults are committed by someone known to the victim; up to 78% of reported sexual assaults in college occur in a “hook up” context; and 75% or more of reported sexual assaults in college involve alcohol (click here for more information and statistics about sexual assault).   Accordingly, understanding, communicating about, and obtaining consent are key steps in reducing the risk of sexual assault.

  • Understand that mixing alcohol or drugs with sexual activity is always risky.  Do not engage in sexual activity if either or both parties are intoxicated.
  • Talk to your partner about your desires, limits and boundaries.  Ask for - and obtain - consent.  Sample questions to ask:
    • Is there anything you don't want to do?
    • I really want to hug/kiss... you. Can I? What do you want to do with me?
    • Have you ever...? Would you like to try it with me?
    • Does this feel good?
    • Do you want to stop?
    • Do you want to go further?
    • Are you ok?
  • Listen and watch for signs that your partner is not consenting - remember - you are looking for an enthusiastic yes!
    • Says something like: "no," "slow down," "I'm not comfortable," "that's enough," "can we just talk?";
    • Not responding to your touch;
    • Pushing you away;
    • Holding their arms around their body;
    • Turning away from you or hiding their face;
    • Stiffening muscles;
    • Tears; and/or
    • Falling asleep or losing consciousness.
  • If your partner gives anything less than an enthusiastic yes, including the signs above, STOP what you are doing and ASK your partner if they're ok and if they want to continue. 

    • Respect your partner's decision: saying no or demonstrating the signs above does not mean "maybe" or "try harder."

Other Strategies to Reduce the Risk of Sexual Assault

  • Trust your gut.  Do not hesitate to leave or ask for help if something doesn't feel right.
  • Make a pact with your friends to watch out for one another and make sure everyone gets home safely.
  • Be an active bystander.
  • Take the Rape Aggression Defense course presented by University Police.
  • Always monitor your drink, and don't accept drinks from anyone you don't know or trust.