Policies Governing Student Life - Sexual Assault

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The Extent of the Risk: Some Statistics

Why are universities so concerned about sexual assault? It is because surveys and statistics suggest that sexual assault is a serious threat to the health and well-being of a significant percentage of college students.

How serious a threat? It is difficult to say for sure. In 2004, 94,635 forcible rapes were reported to U.S. law enforcement agencies nationwide. This number has increased from 93,883 in 2003.

In Wisconsin, 5,618 incidents of sexual assault were reported to the Office of Justice Assistance in 2004. At UW-Platteville, seven incidents of sexual assault were reported to university officials during 2005. A total of 188 sexual assaults were reported throughout the UW System in 2005.

The actual number of rapes committed, however, may have been 3 to 10 times greater than the number reported. According to Robin Warshaw, author of I Never Called It Rape, "while rapes by strangers are still under-reported, rapes by acquaintances are virtually unreported," yet such assaults constitute "70 to 80 percent of all rape crimes."

Definitions of Sexual Assault

There are different kinds of sexual assault. All are serious, but each has a distinct legal definition and a different maximum penalty. Wisconsin Statutes define sexual assault offenses as follows:

First Degree Sexual Assault [Up to 20 years in prison]:

Sexual intercourse or contact with another person without the consent of that person, and 1) involving the use or threat of force or violence, 2) resulting in pregnancy or great bodily harm, or 3) aided by one or more persons.

Second Degree Sexual Assault [Up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000]:

Sexual intercourse or contact with another person without the consent of that person and 1) involving the use or threat of force or violence, 2) resulting in injury, illness, disease or mental anguish, or 3) if the person is known to be unconscious or under the influence of an intoxicant rendering the person incapable of giving consent, or suffering from a mental illness or deficiency. (Intoxicant is defined as any alcohol beverage, controlled substance, controlled substance analog, or other drug, or any combination)

Third Degree Sexual Assault [Up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000]:

Sexual intercourse with another person without the consent of that person

Fourth Degree Sexual Assault [Up to nine months in jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000]:

Sexual contact with another person without the consent of that person.

Sexual Exploitation by a Therapist [Up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000]:

(i.e., a physician, nurse, chemical dependency counselor, psychologist or member of the clergy), is illegal during an on-going professional relationship. Here consent is not an issue.

State law and university policy also prohibit sexual harassment, including intentional verbal/physical conduct or other behavior that demeans the sex of a person or persons and which interferes with or creates an intimidating, hostile or demeaning environment for a student's education, employment or other university-authorized activity. This can include unwelcome requests for sexual favors, sexual slurs and epithets, jokes or threats.

The Rights of Students

Whether you are female or male, there is a risk of being sexually assaulted sometime during your life. You are only kidding yourself if you think it can not happen to you.

Fortunately, both men and women are learning, and some of the myths about sexual assault are beginning to fade. "She asked for it," "she owed it to me," "she enjoyed it." "I couldn't help it" and other excuses do not excuse illegal behavior.

Something else is changing. Women are becoming more assertive in charging and prosecuting those who sexually assault them. In such cases, increasingly, they have a powerful ally: their university.

UW-Platteville follows seven principles regarding sexual assault:

  1. Every report of sexual assault will be taken seriously and action will be taken as appropriate/possible. Students who are victims of sexual assault have the option of notifying proper law enforcement (both on-campus and local police). If requested, university officials will assist students in contacting law enforcement agencies.
  2. Supporting the person who has been assaulted is a primary consideration, as are exploring options and protect- ing the individual's rights. The individual has a right to confidentiality and to determine what options to pursue. If requested by the victim and if reasonably available, the option exists for changing the academic and living situations after an alleged sexual assault incident.
  3. We will make every effort to balance "privacy rights" and "the right to know" when making decisions about what information to release. We promise not to "cover up" incidents, even though our ability to discuss such incidents is limited.
  4. A signed complaint is necessary to initiate on-campus disciplinary proceedings. UWS Chapter 17 Student Nonacademic Disciplinary Procedures details the process used for on-campus disciplinary proceedings. The accuser and accused are entitled to the same opportunities to have others present during a campus disciplin- ary proceeding and both shall be informed of the outcome.
  5. Educational programming and other awareness activities aimed at prevention are very important. As such, each residence hall wing, athletic team, and social fraternity/sorority at UW-Platteville is annually required to provide informational programs on sexual assault to individual members. Additionally, university offices such as Student Health Services, the Women's Center, Counseling Center, Student Housing, and Student Activities offer numerous programs designed to educate students about sexual assault.
  6. Written information on sexual assault/harassment will be distributed regularly to all students and university employees.
  7. The university will do everything possible to provide a climate that is sensitive to, and respectful and supportive of, individual needs.

Protecting Yourself

Acquaintance Rape

Acquaintance rape is sexual assault by a friend, date, acquaintance or relative. Here are some ways for women and men to prevent this crime:

Men:

  1. No means no. Do not fall for the common stereotype that when a woman says "No" she really means "Yes." If a woman says "No" to sexual contact, STOP.
  2. Listen carefully. Take the time to hear what the woman is saying. If you feel she is not being direct or is giving you a "mixed message," ask for clarification.
  3. Remember that date rape is a crime. It is never acceptable to use force in sexual situations.
  4. Do not make assumptions about a woman's behavior. Kissing, heavy drinking, provocative dress, visiting your room, or previous sexual contact does not mean consent to sexual intercourse.
  5. Having sex with someone who is mentally or physically incapable of giving consent is rape. You may be guilty of rape if you have sex with a woman who is under the influence of drugs, mentally ill, mentally challenged, intoxicated, passed out, incapable of saying "No" or unaware of what is happening around her.
  6. Be very careful in group situations. Take action to stop potentially violent or criminal acts.
  7. Get involved. If you see a woman in trouble at a party or a male friend using force or pressuring a woman, intervene. You may save the woman from sexual assault and your friend from criminal prosecution.

Women:

  1. You have the right to say "No" to any unwanted sexual contact. If you are uncertain, ask the man to respect your feelings.
  2. Say "No" firmly and directly, with a firm tone of voice and clear body language. Do not give mixed messages.
  3. Do not rely on "ESP" to get your message across. You must tell the person how you feel.
  4. Remember that some men think that if you drink heavily, dress provocatively, or go to their rooms, you are willing to have sex. Communicate your limits and intentions clearly in such situations.
  5. Go out with friends you can trust. Agree to look out for one another. Try to leave with a group, rather than alone or with someone you do not know very well.
  6. Listen to your feelings. If you feel uncomfortable, or think you may be at risk, leave immediately and go to a safe place.
  7. Do not be afraid to make a scene if you feel threatened. If you feel pressured or coerced into sexual activity against your will, do not hesitate to state your feelings. Call for help, and get out of the situation-even if it seems awkward or embarrassing.

Both men and women should be especially careful in situations involving the use of alcohol or drugs. Alcohol and drugs can interfere with your ability to assess situations and communicate effectively.

Stranger Rape

Although rape by strangers is less frequent than acquaintance rape, it can be physically more dangerous. Some ways to protect yourself:

Walking:

  1. Always be aware of what is going on around you. Stay alert to your surroundings.
  2. Walk with confidence-head up, shoulders straight.
  3. At night, stick to well-lighted, populated areas and walk with another person. Avoid walking alone or in isolated areas.
  4. Take extra precautions in parking lots, stairwells, elevators, bathrooms, and dark areas with shrubbery. Many assaults by strangers occur in these places.
  5. If you suspect someone is following you, go where there are other people immediately. If you choose to run, run as fast as you can and scream for help.
  6. Follow your instincts. If you think you may be in danger, or you see a suspicious person, leave the area. Report your suspicions to the authorities.

In Residence Halls:

  1. Always lock your door, even if you run down the hall for just a few minutes.
  2. Do not prop security doors open.
  3. In facilities that require a special key, do not admit anyone who does not have one, no matter how presentable their appearance or how plausible their request. Simply tell them, "I would like to help you, but we are very concerned about security in this residence." Direct them to the resident assistant on duty.

Immediately After an Assault

Remember ...

Medical Help:

After an assault, it is important to get a physical examination even if you feel you have not received physical injuries. A medical examination will include treatment of any internal and/or external injuries and testing for gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia, pregnancy, and other physical effects.

Medical evidence should be collected as soon after the assault as possible. Your informed consent is required for this procedure. Physical evidence such as semen, particles of the attacker's hair and clothing, and a description of physical injuries are often crucial if the case goes to court.

When you go to the hospital, it is helpful to bring a change of clothing. It is vitally important that you avoid taking a shower or bath immediately after the rape. It may be especially difficult to fight the urge to clean up, but cleaning up will destroy valuable evidence you may need later.

Police Help:

Police will transport anyone who has been raped to the hospital whether or not the person chooses to file a report against the assailant. An officer will be provided to accompany you if you prefer whenever possible. You also may bring a friend or advocate with you to provide support and assistance while speaking with the police and during medical exams. For an on-campus assault, call University Police at 342-1584. For an off-campus assault, call the Police Department at 911.

The decision to report a sexual assault to the police must be given serious consideration. Reporting can lead to apprehension of the rapist and prevent victimization of other persons in the future. However, individual considerations sometimes may outweigh the reasons for reporting.

Date Rape Drugs

Over the last few years there have been a number of reports of sexual assault in which drugs and/or other substances have been slipped into the victims' beverages. For centuries, rapists have used alcohol to overcome their victims. Now they can use a wide variety of substances to commit sexual assaults.

If someone believes he/she may have been drugged, he/she should seek immediate medical attention. Some of the symptoms may be dizziness, confusion, sudden and unexplained drowsiness, trouble with motor coordination, impaired judgement, disinhibition, or disproportionately inebriated in relation to the amount of alcohol consumed.

Prevention

Who to Contact for Help

Monday-Friday

Every Day, 24-Hours

On-Campus Off-Campus
  1. City of Platteville Police Department 911
    Investigate reported incidents, assist prosecution by district attorney
  2. Grant County Sheriff 723-2157
    Investigate reported incidents, assist prosecution by district attorney
  3. Family Advocates Crisis Line 348-3838
    Support, temporary shelter, counseling, legal and medical advocacy
  4. Family Advocates Sexual Assault Line 348-4290
  5. Family Advocates 24 Hour Toll-Free Line 1-800-924-2624
  6. Support, temporary shelter, counseling, legal and medical advocacy
  7. Southwest Health Center 348-2331
  8. Medical treatment, evidence collection and medical follow-up
  9. Grant County Victim/Witness Coordinator 723-2462

Wisconsin Sex Offender Information

The State of Wisconsin, through its Department of Corrections, maintains an electronic directory of individuals registered as sex offenders in Wisconsin. The website for this directory is http://offender.doc.state.wi.us/public/

Interested persons may search the directory in two modes:
  1. Search by name (or alias) for information about individual registrants. This search requires a full or partial last name for the registrant.
  2. Search by location for information about registrants who reside in a certain area. This search is done by zip code, by entering the first 3, 4, or 5 numbers of the selected zip code area. Note: the zip code for Platteville is 53818.
(Wisconsin Sex Offender Registry WI ss 301.45)

Anyone requesting information about a sex offender may submit a Public Inquiry Request for Registry which must include the following information:

  1. offender's full and accurate spell of name
  2. offender's date of birth
  3. offender's social security number
  4. and if available driver's license number
  5. Forms, addresses, and telephone numbers are available at the University or Platteville Police Departments.