Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Alcohol and Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault
How do I contact Sexual Assault Services (SAS)?
Sexual Assault Services (SAS) has offices on the Fairfax, Arlington, and Prince William Campuses. Our Fairfax office is located in Sub 1, Suite 3200. Our Arlington office is located in Original Building, Room 334E. Our Prince William office is located in Occoquan Building, Room 229G. To contact SAS by phone, call our staff directory at 703-993-9999. SAS also offers a 24 hour emergency cell phone, 703-380-1434.
How can SAS help?
SAS is committed to providing direct services for survivors of sexual assault, stalking, and dating/partner violence. All services are free and confidential for survivors, and to their families, significant others, and friends. Some of the services we provide are:
- A comprehensive response to all reports of sexual assault and the related issues of stalking and dating/domestic violence
- A primary resource for a student reporting both recent and past incidents—including crisis intervention and referrals
- Information on sexual assault, sexual harassment, stalking and Dating/Partner Violence to survivors, as well as to students doing research for class assignments
- Trained student Peer Companions to provide assistance and support to student survivors
- Psychological, medical, legal and judicial support and information
- Academic intervention and emergency housing assistance
- Educational programs
If I share information with SAS, will my information be kept confidential?
SAS is here to provide a safe space in which to meet the needs of our clients and will make every effort to preserve our clients' privacy. Information will be shared by members of the SAS staff so that we may better serve our clients and provide them the services they request and/or require. Incidents of sexual assault that occur on campus are recorded for federal statistical purposes, without use of identifying information (i.e. names, initials, or contact information).
What is sexual assault?
Sexual assault is a general term that is gender neutral, to include many different offenses involving any forced or unwanted sexual conduct. Sexual assault includes, but is not limited to:
- Acquaintance Rape/Non-Stranger Rape
- Date Rape
- Drug/Alcohol Facilitated Sexual Assault
- Indecent Exposure or “Flashing”
- Forced Sodomy (Oral or Anal)
- Gang Rape/Multiple Rape
- Marital Rape or Marital Sexual Assault
- Object Penetration (Foreign Object or Digital)
- Same Sex Sexual Assault
- Sexual Battery
- Stranger Rape
- Voyeurism or “Peeping Tom”
I was sexually assaulted. What should I do?
If you have just experienced a sexual assault, be sure you are in a safe place. Call 911 if you are injured. A survivor of sexual assault can experience emotional as well as physical consequences. Call SAS for support and information.
- For information on what to do if you have been a victim of sexual assault, please click here.
- For information on your medical options after a sexual assault, please click here
- For information on your legal options after a sexual assault, please click here.)
- For information on your campus judicial options after a sexual assault, please click here.)
My friend was just sexually assaulted. What can I do?
If a friend discloses to you that she/he is a victim of sexual assault, there are things you can do to be supportive. For a list of general guidelines for helping victims of sexual assault, please click here.)
I don’t know what to call my sexual experience, but I’m uncomfortable with what happened to me. . .
If you’ve had a sexual encounter that left you feeling uncomfortable or violated, but you are not quite sure what to call it, SAS is available to listen and support you, and to help you understand whether it was a sexual assault.
How do I get over it?
Healing from sexual assault takes time. Recovering from a sexual assault is often difficult for a survivor. There are many reactions that all survivors of sexual assault have in common, but there are no rules for how survivors will experience them. Each person is different and there is no right or wrong response. Always remember you are not to blame and that SAS is here to help you. (Contact SAS for support and information.)
If the police say there is not enough evidence or if no one is prosecuted, does that mean that nothing really happened?
No. Sexual assault is any unwelcome sexual contact, either direct or through clothing, which is committed by threat, force or without the consent of the other person. Even if the perpetrator is not arrested it does not mean that a sexual assault or rape did not take place. SAS services are still available to you. For information on reporting to police and criminal investigation, please click here.
Who is likely to be a victim of sexual assault?
Although women are the most frequent targets of sexual assault and rape, men, women, and children of all ages can be potential victims. The majority of victims know their attackers, whether it be a classmate, coworker, or someone who lives in their residence hall. (For more information on victims, please click here.
Is this my fault?
Sexual assault is never the victim’s fault. The responsibility of a sexual assault always lies with the offender, even if a person finds her/himself in a vulnerable situation; it is still the perpetrator who made the choice to commit a sexual assault.
Where do most sexual assaults occur?
Contrary to popular belief, most rapes do not occur in a dark alley. Most take place in dorm rooms or other familiar places.
Can men be sexually assaulted?
Sexual assault is something that can and does happen to any man regardless of physical strength. Approximately 1 in 8 males are sexually assaulted at some point in their lives. (For more information on male survivors, please click here.)
Are men who sexually assault other men gay?
Most male perpetrators identify as heterosexual. Sexual assault is a crime of power and control, not sexual desire.
Can a man be sexually assaulted by a woman?
Women can and do commit sexual assaults against men, although this is much less common than sexual assault by men. Sexual assault of a man by a woman is just as serious as any other type of sexual assault. (For more information on male survivors, please click here.) )
How can I protect myself?
No one can prevent a sexual assault from occurring except the perpetrator. If you have been sexually assaulted, it is not your fault. However, there are many steps you can take to help reduce your risk of being victimized. For information on self-defense classes, please contact the GMU University Police. (For more information on keeping yourself safe, please click here.)
What is Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault (DFSA)?
Drug facilitated sexual assault occurs when a victim unknowingly consumes drugs which will leave her vulnerable and unable to resist a sexual assault. These assaults are planned in advance by the perpetrator. (For more information on drug facilitated sexual assault, please click here.)
What are “date rape” drugs?
Rohypnol, GHB, and Ketamine are examples of illegal drugs that are known as date rape drugs. Alcohol is also considered to be a date rape drug. (For more information on date rape drugs and their effects, please click here.) )
What if I had sex because I was too drunk?
Legally, a person who is intoxicated cannot give consent. If someone has sex with you knowing that you are drunk, that person has taken advantage of you and has perpetrated a sexual assault. To avoid a sexual assault, before becoming physically intimate, both parties must ask for and receive a clear and sober “yes.” This is known as getting “active consent.” (For more information on date rape drugs and their effects, please click here.)
What if we are both drunk?
When both parties have been drinking, whoever initiates the sexual activity is the one responsible for perpetrating a sexual assault. (For more information on date rape drugs and their effects, please click here.)
What is dating/partner violence?
By law, in the Commonwealth of Virginia domestic violence can only occur between a married man and woman, or a couple that has a child in common. The term we choose to use is dating/partner violence, although it is also referred to as relationship violence, domestic abuse, and intimate partner violence. This can be defined as a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner. Abuse can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, psychological actions, or threatened action. Dating/partner violence can happen to anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion, or gender. Examples of dating/partner violence are:
- Physical abuse - may involve pushing, shoving, hitting, choking, confining, or assaulting with an object or weapon.
- Emotional abuse - may involve intimidation, threats, humiliation, insults, pressure, destruction of property, control over a partner’s movements, isolation.
- Sexual abuse - may involve sexual relations without consent, unwanted sexual touching or pressure to engage in humiliating or degrading sexual activity.
Who are the abusers?
There is no “typical” abusive partner. Friends and family may not realize that abuse exists in a relationship because the abusive partner may appear friendly and loving in public and abuse only behind closed doors. (For more information on dating/partner violence, please click here.)
Is it sometimes the victim’s fault for provoking the abuser?
No. Abusive partners make a choice to use violence. Responsibility for abuse rests solely with the abusive partner. (For more information on dating/partner violence, please click here.)
Why do people stay in abusive relationships?
In an abusive situation, the victim’s decision to leave is often difficult as well as dangerous. There are many barriers in the way of someone who is trying to leave an abusive relationship. (For more details about the barriers to leaving, please click here.)
What is stalking?
Stalking is any repetitive, unwanted contact. Stalking is to harass somebody criminally by persistent, inappropriate, and unwanted attention, or any behavior that threatens or places fear in another person. Stalking behavior is usually triggered when the stalker’s advances toward a victim are frustrated. Many times, harassing behavior can escalate to threatening behavior. Some types of stalking behavior may include constantly following someone, e-mailing, texting, leaving flowers, calling, as well as many others. Typical stalking behavior includes:
- Sitting outside your home or worksite
- Repeated, non-threatening mail or e-mail, beeper codes, or phone calls
- Persistent physical approaches and/or requests for dates or meetings
- Notes or flowers left on your car
- “Coincidental” appearances where you are
- Waiting next to your car in the parking lot
- Spreading rumors and/or telling secrets about you
- Vandalism or destruction of property
- Threatening mail, e-mail, phone messages
How often does stalking occur?
An estimated 1.4 million people (1,006,970 women and 370,990 men) are stalked annually and 1 in 13 women on campus experience stalking. (For more information on stalking, please click here.)
Is there a correlation between stalking and sexual assault?
There is a strong correlation between stalking as the first step toward both physical and sexual assault. (For more information on stalking and sexual assault, please click here.)
Who are the stalkers?
Stalkers can be anyone. Unfortunately, there is no single profile for stalkers. (For more information on the possible traits of a stalker, please click here.)
What is technology-based stalking?
Cyber stalking, or on-line harassment is different than the annoyance of unsolicited e-mail. True harassment is methodical, deliberate, and persistent communication that disturbs the recipient. If you are a victim of on-line harassment, the unwanted communications received are often continuous, filled with disturbing and inappropriate content, and do not cease even after you ask the sender not to contact you again.(For examples of technology-basedf harassment, please click here.)
Someone is stalking me online. What can I do?
*None of the following steps are meant to take the place of police involvement*
- Victims under the age of 18 should tell a parent or other trusted adult about any harassments and/or threats.
- Contact SAS for support and information.
How can I protect myself on the internet?
The anonymity of the Internet also provides new opportunities for would-be cyberstalkers. A cyberstalker's true identity can be concealed by using different Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and/or by adopting different screen names. More experienced stalkers can use anonymous remailers that make it all-but-impossible to determine the true identity of the source of an e-mail or other electronic communication (http://www.usdoj.gov.) On in spite of this there are things you can do to protect yourself while using the internet.