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 under New Hampshire law can also include unwanted sexual contact (intentional touching of a person’s sexual/intimate parts – anus, breasts, genitalia) – for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification of the offender or the humiliation of the victim. It includes touching of those intimate places even through a person’s clothing. Sexual assault as defined by New Hampshire state law NH RSA 632-A:1 is a crime with very serious punishments that can affect a student’s liberty, privileges to study and ability to remain on the UNH campus.
The University of New Hampshire has its own policy (or conduct rule) about sexual assault that students must follow in addition to New Hampshire Law. UNH considers consent to be a mutual agreement based on a shared desire for specific sexual activities. Consent is not when one person says yes because they are scared or intimidated when they are being physically or mentally threatened when there is an imbalance of power, or if one party is drunk or otherwise incapacitated by drugs and/or alcohol. UNH policy also forbids sexual harassment and stalking, which are related concepts because they involve unwelcome or offensive comments or behavior that is (a) directed toward a person or group and (b) is either severe or pervasive. Complete detail of the UNH policy can be found here. If you have questions about what any of these terms mean you to you can contact our office or call our 24-hour support line at (603) 862-7233 (SAFE) or visit us, Monday – Friday, 9:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. in Wolff House (In Front of Health Services).
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. Nearly 99% of the offenders they described in single-victim incidents are male.  The majority of perpetrators are known to the victim; either as an acquaintance, date, partner, relative or friend. A study of sexual victimization of college women showed that 9 out of 10 victims knew the person who sexually victimized them. 
- Approximately 2/3 of rapes were committed by someone known to the victim. 
- 73% of sexual assaults were perpetrated by a non-stranger. 
- 38% of rapists are a friend or acquaintance. 
- 28% are an intimate person. 
- 7% is a relative. 
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. To learn more about what consent is, click here.
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 at our office, Monday-Friday, 9:00 am-3:30 pm at 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.
 Lawrence A. Greenfield. 1997. Sex Offenses and Offenders: An Analysis of Data on Rape and Sexual Assault. Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Office of Justice Programs, US Department of Justice.
 Basile, K.C., and L.E. Saltzman. Sexual Violence Surveillance: Uniform Definitions and Recommended Data Elements, version 1.0. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, 2002.
 U.S. Department of Justice. 2005 National Crime Victimization Study. 2005.