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Sexual Assault Frequently Asked Questions

What is sexual assault?

Sexual assault includes sexual conduct or contact, as well as other activity of a sexual nature, without the consent of the other person or when knowing the other person is unable to consent because of age, or impaired mental or physical condition (e.g. impairment due to drugs or alcohol). Sexual assault can range from voyeurism and public indecency to rape. All forms of sexual assault deserve to be taken seriously.

In Ohio, major types of sexual assault include:

  • Sexual Imposition: Unwanted touching of a person's erogenous zones for the purpose of sexual gratification.
  • Gross Sexual Imposition: Unwanted touching when force or threat of force is used or when the victim is unable to give consent.
  • Rape: Oral, anal or vaginal intercourse with an unwilling victim through force or threat of force or when the victim is unable to give consent. Rape includes attempted rape and rape with an object.

NOTE: Consent is a major issue in defining what constitutes sexual assault, particularly when two people know each other.

Consent is:

  • Both you and your partner are fully conscious and unimpaired by alcohol or other substances.
  • Both you and your partner are free to act and understand there will not be negative consequences for saying no.
  • Both you and your partner have positively and clearly communicated your intent.
  • Both you and your partner are positive and sincere in your desires.

Physical resistance is not necessary in order to prove non-consent. Legally, intoxication is not a defense against sexual assault. If a person has been drinking to the point where one's ability to consent is impaired, then non-consent is assumed.

Legal Definitions & Categories

Based on Ohio Revised Code 2907.01-2907.09

Sexual Assault: an umbrella term covering a wide range of actions taken against a person without the person’s consent, against the person’s will, or under force, threat of force, or coercion. Legally, consent cannot be given while intoxicated or medicated since these states inhibit an aware state of mind.

Sexual Conduct: vaginal intercourse between a male and female, anal intercourse, or oral sexual activity between persons regardless of gender. Penetration with any body part or object, however slight, is sufficient to complete vaginal or anal intercourse.

Sexual Contact: Any touching of an erogenous zone of another, including the thigh, genitals, buttocks, anal zones, pubic region, areas particularly sensitive to sexual stimulation, or, if such person is female, breast(s), for the purpose of sexually arousing or gratifying either person.

Rape: Vaginal, oral or anal penetration that committed against a person’s will and without consent. Rape can be committed by force, threat of force or the purpose of preventing resistance, offender substantially impairs victim’s judgment or control by giving any drug/intoxicant secretly or by force, threat of force or by deception. Victim need not prove physical resistance.

Gross Sexual Imposition: Having sexual contact with another, by force or threat of force; or the offender substantially impairs the other person’s judgment or control using drugs or intoxicant secretly or by force, threat of force or deception.

Voyeurism: Trespassing or secretly invading privacy of another; to spy or eavesdrop upon another with the purpose of sexually arousing or gratifying one’s self.

Public Indecency: Recklessly exposing one’s private parts, or masturbating; engaging in conduct appearing to an ordinary observer to be sexual conduct or masturbation.

Sexual Other: Minor incidents of a sexual nature which may or may not involve physical contact. Example: offensive sexual words or comments, bumping, gestures, etc.

What can I do if I or someone I know was sexually assaulted?

If someone you know shares that they have been sexually assaulted, listen and believe the person. The first step is knowing one's options so that he/she can make the best decision for him/herself.

  • UC Title IX Coordinator, Jyl Shaffer at (513) 556-3349 to make a report and initiate an investigation. Title IX Program
  • For confidential support, call Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at (513) 556-0648 (8:00 AM - 5:00 PM, Monday - Friday) during office hours, or call our 24/7 phone consultation helpline at (513) 556-0648.   CAPS is NOT an Anonymous Reporting Agency, but will provide confidential support for students who are seeking our services. 

  • Seek medical attention. To treat possibly transmitted STIs, prevent pregnancy and collect evidence, it is important to seek medical treatment within 72 hours of the incident.
    Where can you go?
    • University Hospital has a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Program (SANE), through which nurses are specially trained to support survivors in treatment. They are on-call 24 hours a day. Questions? Call 513-584-8108.

  • Call the police.
    • UC Police: 513-556-1111.
    • Cincinnati Police: 513-765-1212.

What will happen if I call the police or go to the hospital?

If the assault took place on campus, then UC police will respond; otherwise, it falls under the jurisdiction of the Cincinnati Police. When they arrive, they will first assess your medical needs to determine if you need to go to the hospital immediately. Then, the officer will begin to interview you about what happened. Even though this is often difficult, it is necessary if a police report is to be completed. It is very important to note that making a report does not mean that you've decided to press charges and prosecute. That can be decided later. Making a report is simply officially documenting what happened.

If you go the hospital, you will be provided a private space while the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) nurse prepares to see you. Going to the hospital can be overwhelming and you can take someone along with you. When you arrive, you will also be asked if you would like a victim's advocate to accompany you and support you through the exam. This is your choice. The SANE nurse is specifically trained in collecting evidence and providing medical attention through the process. Following the exam, you will be offered medications to prevent the contraction of possible STIs as well as medication to prevent pregnancy, if you so decide. If you've decided to have an advocate accompany you, they will then provide you with referral information as well as literature on recovery and healing.

As a victim of a violent crime, the exam will be paid for by the Ohio Attorney General. Making a police report is not required to receive this free exam. The hospital will keep the exam and the evidence for thirty days to give you time to decide if you'd like to report the crime to police.

What if I don't want to file a criminal report?

This information is meant to help you or a friend understand your available options. In the event that filing a police report is not an option, there are many others to choose from to help yourself or a friend in need.

  • UC Counseling and Psychological Services (UC CAPS): call 513-556-0648 or visit

  • Call the 24 hour hotlines in the community
    • YWCA Protect Hotline: 513-872-9259
    • Women Helping Women: 513-381-5610

What can I expect if I decide to file a report with Judicial Affairs?

Another option for reporting is to report the incident to University Judicial Affairs: call 513-556-6814 or email Judicial Affairs

  • If the perpetrator is a UC student, reporting the incident to Judicial Affairs allows the university to hold the student accountable for his/her actions. Sanctions could include a written reprimand, probation, suspension, dismissal, referral for psychological evaluation or other disciplinary reprimands (transfer or restrictions from residence halls). This process can exist independently of a criminal investigation; in other words, you can decide to only proceed with the UC disciplinary process.
  • Visit Judicial Affairs' website to learn more about Incident Reporting Procedure.

You can either ask an advocate to accompany you to make a report with Daniel Cummins, Director of Judicial Affairs at UC, or go alone or with someone else. At this meeting, you will be informed of the nature of the UC Disciplinary Process, what to expect, and your available options. If you decide at this point to make an official report and proceed, you will be asked to write a detailed account of the incident. Later, this written account will be shared with the alleged perpetrator in determining his/her responsibility.

Procedural Review
The purpose of the Procedural Review is to review the alleged violations, provide an explanation of the disciplinary process, discuss the student's options, and advise the student of the review administrator's recommended sanctions for the alleged violations. The accused may elect to have an adviser present who may counsel but not actively participate as a spokesperson or vocal advocate in the proceeding. The accused student is required to notify the review administrator 24 hours prior to the Procedural Review if the adviser is an attorney.

Following the Procedural Review, the accused will have the following three options: i.Admit responsibility to the violations and agree to accept the sanctions imposed by the review administrator; or ii. Admit responsibilyt but dispute the proposed sanction and request that the sanction be determined by an Administrative Review Committee (ARC); or iii. Deny responsibility and request a hearing befpre an ARC.  If the accused student fails to notify the review administrator of the option selected within three days of the Procedural Review, an ARC Hearing will be scheduled.

Note: The Office of University Judicial Affairs (OUJA) encourages students charged in the same incident and who choose to have an ARC Hearing to have their cases consolidated. The OUJA reserves the right to require consolidation of hearings.

Administrative Review Committee (ARC) members
The Administrative Review Committee shall consist of: the hearing chair, who shall be the director of the OUJA or the director's designee; two faculty or staff selected from the ARC pool; and four undergraduate student representatives selected fromt he ARC studen pool for undergraduate cases or two graduate students selected from the ARC graduate pool for graduate cases. 

Policy on Amnesty
The University community encourages the reporting of conduct code violations and crimes by victims, especially sexual misconduct. Sometimes, victims are hesitant to report such conduct to university officials because they fear that they themselves may be accused of policy violations, such as underage drinking at the time of the incident. It is in the best interests of this community that as many victims as possible choose to report code violations to university officials. To encourage reporting, the university of Cincinnati does not charge victims with non-violent violations, such as unauthorized use of alcoholic beverages or Drugs or Narcotics, related to the incident. The university may impose educational responses rather than sanctions, in such cases, at the discretion of the Department of Student Life.

If you wish to officially file a complaint with Judicial Affairs, visit the Office of University Judicial Affairs' Incident Reporting Procedure page.

What is sexual harassment?

Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when:

  • Submission to such conduct determines one's employment or academic success; or
  • Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment or academic decisions affecting such individual; or
  • Such conduct has the purpose or effect of interfering with an individual's work or academic performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive working or studying environment.

What should I do if I'm being sexually harassed?

For confidential support and information on how to make a report, contact either

  • The Office of the University Ombuds, 600 Swift Hall, 513-556-5956
  • CAPS, 225 Calhoun Street, Suite 200, (513) 556-0648.  CAPS is NOT an Anomymous Reporting Agency, but will provide confidential services for any student seeking our services. 

To make a report and initiate an investigation, contact the following:

  • Title IX Coordinator, Jyl Shaffer at 513-556-3349.
  • If a student is harassing you, the Office of University Judicial Affairs in 745 Steger Student Life Center, 513-556-6814
  • If a staff is harassing you, the Office of Equal Opportunity, 250 University Hall, 513-556-5503
  • If a faculty is harassing you, the Office of Senior Vice President and Provost, 210 VanWormer, 513-556-2588.

What is stalking?

Stalking is legally defined as an act that occurs when a person engages in a pattern of conduct that causes you to believe that the offender will cause physical harm or mental distress to you. This means that on at least two occasions (thus constituting "pattern of conduct") a person follows you, places you under surveillance or threatens your immediate or future bodily harm, sexual assault, or confinement or restraint.

What should I do if I'm being stalked?

Document the situation.

  • Record each event, including the date, time, place, what occurred, witnesses and how you felt. 
  • Keep notes in a safe place.

Take safety measures.

  • Keep your phone number and email address AND consider getting a new one to use.
  • Vary your daily routine so that it would be more difficult for you to be followed.
  • Ask for someone to escort you to your car. 
  • Alert campus security of your situation. 
  • Let others know not to give out your personal information.
  • Consider taking a self-defense course.
  • Do not contact or try to reason with the stalker; they won't get it.
  • Do not return gifts or letters; keep them for evidence.

Contact support services.

  • UC Legal Aid Clinic: 513-241-9400
  • Women Helping Women: 513-381-5610
  • YWCA Protect Hotline: 513-872-9259
  • Talbert House Victim Services: 513-241-4484
  • UC Counseling & Psychological Services (UC CAPS) Center: 513-556-0648

Call the police.

  • UC Police: 513-556-1111
  • Cincinnati Police: 513-765-1212

Information about drugs and rape

Alcohol: alcohol is present is 80-85% of reported rapes. Drinking too much in no way makes being raped or assaulted your fault! Legally, if you were intoxicated or passed out as a result of over-drinking or drugs, it was impossible to give consent.

Rohypnol: Street names include Ruffies, Roaches, Rope, Mind-Erasers, Lunch Money and Mexican Valium. This drug is in the same family as Valium, although it is described as being 10 times stronger than Valium. It is illegal in the U.S. but is used in 80 other countries to treat people with severe and debilitating sleep disorders. It is also used as a pre-anesthetic before surgery. It is odorless, tasteless and colorless and dissolves rapidly in alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks. Physical effects are noticeable 20-30 minutes following ingestion, and their overall effects can last from six hours to 20 hours, depending on the dose that was taken. Symptoms include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Feelings of extreme drunkenness
  • Unconsciousness
  • Complete or partial amnesia are the most common effects, especially when taken with alcohol

The effects of the drug vary, however, depending on the dose ingested, whether it is taken with alcohol, weight, metabolism, and how soon medical care is received.

GHB: The chemical name for GHB is gamma hydroxybutrate and is also known as Liquid G, Georgia Home Boy, Gamma 10, Energy Drink, Liquid Ectasy, and G-Juice. It acts as a depressant on the central nervous system and is marketed in liquid, pill or powder form. It can be slipped into a drink. A person can feel the effects within 15 minutes of ingestion. The effects include those very similar to Rohypnol symptoms, such as confusion, intense drowsiness, and unconsciousness. Mixed with alcohol, GHB can cause the central nervous system to shut down, lead to loss of consciousness and possibly result in coma or death.

Ketamine HCL: The street name is Special K. General anesthetic used in veterinary medicine. It is a clear liquid or white powder and causes hallucinations, paralysis, and respiratory depression. Most labs are unable to test for this drug because it is metabolized completely within 2 hours. 

What do I do if I suspect I've been drugged and raped?

(As recommended by DC Rape Crisis Center)

  • Get to safe place and call a rape crisis center for information or support.
  • Determine whether or not you want to report the incident to the police. If there is any chance you do want to report the assault, you should not shower, bathe, douche, change clothes or straighten up the area until medical and legal evidence is collected because these actions will destroy evidence.
  • If you want to report the incident, first call the police and then go to the hospital and have medical evidence collected.
  • Go to a hospital, clinic or private doctor for treatment of external and/or internal injuries, tests for pregnancy and STIs and support services.
  • Request a urine test as quickly as possible to detect the presence of sedating substances. Every hour matters. Chances of getting proof are best when the sample is obtained soon after the substance has been ingested, but depending on the substance used, the test can be reliable even on a sample obtained 72 hours later. The test is free and can be requested by law enforcement officers, rape crisis centers and hospital emergency departments by calling 1-800-608-6540. This test will identify multiple substances, including those taken voluntarily. It is important to know that these results will be included in the criminal report and possibly used in trial.

How can I reduce my risk of being drugged and sexually assaulted?

  • Be aware of your limits and honor your instincts.

  • Communicate with your friends and those you're partying with ahead of time about your plans for the evening.

  • Do not leave beverages unattended.

  • Do not take any beverages from someone you do not know well or trust. 

  • At parties, do not accept open container drinks from anyone.

  • Be alert to the behavior of friends and ask them to watch out for you. Anyone extremely intoxicated after consuming only a small amount of alcohol may be in danger.

Survivor's Rights

The "Campus Sexual Assault Victims' Bill of Rights" exists as a part of the campus security reporting requirments of the federal law that establishes all student aid programs, the Higher Education Act of 1965.

  • Accuser and accused must have the same opportunity to have others present during the university disciplinary hearing.
  • Both parties shall be informed of the outcome of any disciplinary proceeding.
  • Survivors shall be informed of their options to notify law enforcement.
  • Survivors shall be notified of counseling services.
  • Survivors shall be notified of options for changing academic and living situations.
  • Survivors have the right to be informed, respected and supported throughout their healing process.

Policy on Amnesty
The University community encourages the reporting of conduct code violations and crimes by victims, especially sexual misconduct. Sometimes, victims are hesitant to report such conduct to university officials because they fear that they themselves may be accused of policy violations, such as underage drinking at the time of the incident. It is in the best interests of this community that as many victims as possible choose to report code violations to university officials. To encourage reporting, the university of Cincinnati does not charge victims with non-violent violations, such as unauthorized use of alcoholic beverages or Drugs or Narcotics, related to the incident. The university may impose educational responses rather than sanctions, in such cases, at the discretion of the Department of Student Life.