Sexual assault is any unwanted sexual contact without consent, often through the use or threat of force or through intentionally rendering the victim incapable of consent though the use of alcohol or drugs.
Sexual assault can be perpetrated by a stranger, but it is more commonly committed by someone the victim knows, such as a friend, boyfriend/girlfriend/partner or acquaintance. Because assault usually occurs with someone the victim knows and while one or both parties are under the influence of alcohol, victims often blame themselves and do not identify it as sexual assault. Often the victim will not tell anyone about it. If they do tell someone, 80 percent of the time they will seek support from a peer before they will seek help from a professional.
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Fisher, B., F. Cullen and M. Turner (2000). The Sexual Victimization of College Women. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice and Bureau of Justice Statistics.
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Rennison & Welchans. (2000). Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report: Intimate Partner Violence.
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Baum, Catalano & Rand. (2009). Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report: Stalking Victimization in the United States. Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report.