Sexual Assault is having or attempting to have sexual intercourse or sexual contact with another individual without explicit consent. Sexual assault affects people regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, religion, or ability.
Rape is generally defined as forced or nonconsensual sexual intercourse. In Wisconsin it is considered rape if penetration occurs when the victim is unable to give consent or prevented from resisting, due to being intoxicated or drugged.
The legal system has created four different levels of unwanted sexual contact and penetration:
- Fourth degree sexual assault: sexual contact with a person without consent of that person.
- Third degree sexual assault: sexual intercourse with a person without consent of that person.
- Second degree sexual assault: sexual contact or intercourse with a person without consent of that person, and with the use of threat, force, or violence, or resulting in injury or mental anguish.
- First degree sexual assault: sexual contact or intercourse with a person without consent of that person by use of, or threat of use of a dangerous weapon, or which causes pregnancy or great bodily harm. 940.225 (1)-(3m).
The degree of a sexual assault incident depends on the severity of the assault. As danger to the victim increases (from fourth to first degree), so do the corresponding penalties for the perpetrator. Legally, an assault is considered more dangerous when weapons, force, considerable bodily harm, multiple assailants, and/or pregnancy are results of the sexual assault.
It is important to remember that sexual assault takes many forms, some of which do not involve penetration. Also, everyone responds to traumatic events like sexual assault differently and regardless of the degree of sexual assault, a survivor's individual experience and feelings must be supported and respected.
Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination prohibited under federal and state laws as well as UW System policy. Unsolicited and unwarranted sexually discriminatory remarks, sexually derogatory statements or gestures and/or verbal sexual advances; attempts to engage a nonconsenting person in sexual activities or physical contact of a sexual nature; and unsolicited and unwanted physical contact of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when
- participation in such conduct becomes a condition of an individual's employment or education; or
- the submission or rejection or participation in such conduct becomes a basis for academic or employment decisions affecting that individual; or
- the conduct has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual's academic or work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive education, employment or living environment.
Wisconsin law defines consent as words or overt actions by a person who is competent to give informed consent. 940.225 (4). Consent is informed, freely and actively given, and mutually understood permission/agreement. If physical force, coercion, intimidation, and/or threats are used, there is no consent. If the victim/survivor is mentally or physically incapacitated or impaired so that they cannot understand the sexual situation, there is no consent. This includes impairment due to alcohol or drug consumption and being asleep or unconscious.
Dating and Domestic Violence Information
Dating or domestic violence, also known as intimate partner violence, is a pattern of ongoing power and control by one dating partner over another. Examples of dating or domestic violence include threatening a partner or their family, coercing them into doing something they don’t want to do, constantly belittling them, controlling what they can and cannot do, deciding who they can go out with and when, isolating them from friends and family, controlling their finances and access to resources, or physically hitting, kicking, punching, slapping, or scratching. Dating and domestic violence can also include sexual violence or stalking.
Domestic violence can happen to people of all ages, races, ethnicities, and religions. It occurs in both heterosexual and LGBTQ relationships. While it is important to remember that we all have different cultural practices, beliefs, and experiences that shape our view of what intimate relationships look like, everyone deserves to feel safe and respected.
Stalking is engaging in a course/pattern of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for her, his, or others' safety, or to suffer substantial emotional distress. Such conduct includes two or more acts by which the stalker directly, or indirectly, or through third parties follows, monitors, observes, surveils, threatens, or communicates about a person or interferes with his or her property.