Violence Prevention Office

The University of Mississippi

Sexual Assault

Sexual assault is any sexual contact without the consent of the other person including touching, penetration by an object and sexual intercourse.

Understanding Consent
Consent requires a clearly communicated agreement to engage in sexual activity. The individual
consenting must act freely and voluntarily and have knowledge of the nature of the act involved.
Consent may be withdrawn at any time regardless of the activity preceding the withdrawal of
consent.

  • The existence of an intimate relationship is not sufficient to constitute consent.
  • Consent may not be inferred from silence or passivity alone.
  • A person who is unconscious cannot give consent.
  • A person cannot give consent if he/she is unable to appreciate the nature of the sexual act, as with a person who has a disability that would impair understanding of the act or if a person is impaired by the influence of drugs or alcohol.

The use of alcohol or drugs by either party in conjunction with sexual assault does not alleviate
responsibility or diminish the serious nature of the offense. When alcohol or drugs are involved,
a victim will not be charged with an alcohol or drug violation and should not let his or her use of
alcohol or drugs be a deterrent to reporting the incident.

Any agreement to engage in sexual activity that is obtained through coercion, including the use
of physical force, threat, intimidation or exploitation, is not consent.

Get Help

Know that no one’s situation is the same. Whatever you choose is the right thing for you, and no one has the right to take control away from you.

Some things to consider:

Safety

Are you in a safe location? Is there a chance the assailant could return? Is there somewhere safer you could go? (Consider the Family Crisis Center if there is nowhere else.) Consider calling someone for support. Besides a loved one, other resources are available to you.

Medical Care

Injuries: Medical caregivers can provide treatment for injuries (shock and general aches and pains may be difficult to distinguish from a serious or internal injury).

Pregnancy & STI: Prevention and assessment of sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy (prevention possible within the first 72 hours).

Evidence Collection: A rape evidence kit is a process to collect and test physical evidence for use in criminal investigations and prosecutions. The Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner program can provide free rape evidence kits to survivors whether the survivor chooses to press charges or not. In Oxford, the emergency room is equipped with rape evidence kits. Many hospitals and medical centers require their staff to report cases of sexual assault to the police. You can choose not to speak to the officers. If you are unsure about participating in criminal prosecution, having the rape evidence kit done will help keep your options open. Typically, evidence will be kept for a few weeks as you consider your options.