Get educated on sexual assault

Sexual Assault

Sexual assault is an umbrella term encompassing any non-consensual sexual act. This may include sexual touching, kissing, bodily contact, fondling, and/or penetration, and may or may not include coercion, threat of force, violence, threat of retaliation, and/or use of substances as a tool to facilitate the assault.

Rape and Sexual Assault are defined below:

  • Rape is an act of non-consensual sexual intercourse with penetration that may or may not involve coercion, the threat of force, violence, immediate and unlawful bodily injury or threats of future retaliation and duress.
  • Sexual assault is broader in definition than rape. Any non-consensual sexual act may be sexual assault - this may include unwanted oral intercourse, penetration of the anus or vagina with a foreign object, unwanted touching on an intimate area of a person’s body, or unwanted kissing or bodily contact that is sexual in nature.

Sexual Assault is a felony in the state of CA. Sentencing can include up to 10 years in prison, fines, and psychiatric treatment. 

Common Questions Regarding Sexual Violence

I didn’t resist physically – does that mean it wasn’t rape?
People respond to an assault in different ways - there is a spectrum of uncontrollable neurobiological reactions, including fight, flight, and freeze (with freeze being the most common experience in survivors). Many victims state that physical resistance may have caused the attacker to become even more violent, and may not have been the safest choice in that moment. No matter what somebody's response to this experience is, no one deserves to be taken advantage of in this way.

I used to date the person who assaulted me – does that mean it wasn’t rape?
Rape can occur when the perpetrator and survivor have a pre-existing relationship (casual hookups, dating, engaged, married, etc). No matter what the relationship, or how many times you have had consensual sex in the past, consent must be received every single time.

I don’t remember the assault – does that mean it wasn’t rape?
Memory loss is a very common reaction to a traumatic event. This may be a neurobiological response, where the brain tries to protect itself by blocking upsetting memories; or, this may be related to a substance (such as alcohol, GHB, etc) used to facilitate the assault causing memory loss. It can be very difficult for survivors to process an experience they do not remember; we are here to support you through that.

Substance-Facilitated Sexual Assaults


Alcohol alone is the #1 substance used to faciliate sexual assaults. Because alcohol is so widely accepted as a social norm, and accessible to college-aged populations, alcohol alone is often used in sexual assault scenarios. However, some assaults also occur with other substances; it is important to know how bodies may respond to various drugs so we can watch out for each other and monitor symptoms.


GHB (Gamma-hydroxybutyrate) is also referred to as: liquid X, liquid ecstasy, or liquid E. It takes effect in about 15 minutes and can last 3 or 4 hours. It is very potent: A very small amount can have a big effect. GHB can cause these problems:

  • Drowsiness, slow heart rate
  • Dizziness, nausea
  • Vision problems
  • Loss of consciousness (black out)
  • Seizures, tremors
  • Problems breathing
  • Sweating
  • Vomiting

Appearance: a liquid with no odor or color, white powder, or pill. It might give your drink a slightly salty taste. Mixing it with a sweet drink, such as fruit juice, can mask the salty taste.



Rohypnol is a class of tranquilizers, also called circles or roofies. The effects of Rohypnol can be felt within 30 minutes of being drugged and can last for several hours. Rohypnol can cause these problems:

  • Muscle relaxation, loss of muscle control
  • Difficulty with motor movements
  • Problems talking
  • Nausea
  • Memory loss
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Confusion
  • Vision problems
  • Dizziness
  • Sleepiness
  • Lowered blood pressure

Appearance: comes as a pill that dissolves in liquids. Some are small, round, and white. Newer pills are oval and green-gray in color. When slipped into a drink, a dye in these new pills makes clear liquids turn bright blue and dark drinks turn cloudy.


Ketamine (also referred to as Special K or Vitamin K) is very fast-acting. You might be aware of what is happening to you, but unable to move. Ketamine can cause these problems:

  • Distorted perceptions of sight and sound
  • Lost sense of time and identity
  • Out-of-body experiences
  • Feeling out of control
  • Impaired motor function, loss of coordination
  • Problems breathing
  • Convulsions
  • Vomiting
  • Memory loss
  • Numbness
  • Aggressive or violent behavior
  • Depression
  • High blood pressure
  • Slurred speech

Appearance: Ketamine can come as a liquid and a white powder.


Methaqualone is a sedative-hypnotic drug that is similar in effect to barbiturates, a general central nervous system depressant. Some of the symptoms of quaaludes are:

  • Euphoria
  • Drowsiness
  • Reduced heart rate & breathing
  • Paresthesia (numbness of the fingers and toes)
  • Slurred speech
  • Headache
  • Photophobia (excessive sensitivity to light)

Appearance: tablets, often printed with "714."

One of the warning signs of having been drugged is feeling like you got drunk much faster than usual (blacking out or slurring speech after 1 drink, etc). If you suspect you or a friend may have been drugged, you can get tested for substances in your system as part of a SART (the medical forensic exam option after an assault). You can learn more here.

Related Content


Admissions Link

Link to the Admissions Website for information on selection criteria, application deadlines, creating your VIP page and more!