Defining Sexual Assault and Consent

The term "sexual assault" covers behavior from unwanted touching to rape. Each state has its own legal definition and criminal code, and thus definitions of acts that constitute sexual assault vary. These definitions are gender neutral because sexual assault happens to both females and males, although the vast majority of sexual assault victims are females.

Northwestern University defines sexual assault as:

Any intentional or knowing touching or fondling by the accused, either directly or through the clothing, of the victim's genitals, breasts, thighs, or buttocks without the victim's consent. Sexual assault includes touching or fondling of the accused by the victim when the victim is forced to do so against his or her will. Sexual assault also includes any nonconsensual acts involving penetration of the sex organs, anus, or mouth. (Northwestern University Student Handbook 2009-2010)

Illinois State law defines sexual assault as:

Sexual penetration by force or threat of force or an act of sexual penetration when the victim was unable to understand the nature of the act or was unable to give knowing consent. (720 ILCS 5 Criminal Code of 1961 §12-13)

Illinois law defines sexual penetration as:

Any contact, however slight, between the sex organ or anus of one person by an object, the sex organ, mouth, or anus of another person, or any intrusion, however slight, of any part of the body of one person or of any object into the sex organ or anus of another person, including but not limited to cunnilingus, fellatio, or anal penetration. Evidence of emission of semen is not required to prove sexual penetration (720 ILCS 5 Criminal Code of 1961 §12-12(f)).

What is consent?

Sexual activity requires consent, which is defined as voluntary, positive agreement between the participants to engage in specific sexual activity.

Communicating consent:

Alcohol and drugs:

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