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Interpersonal Violence

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How do I know if it was sexual assault?

Briefly, sexual assault is any unwanted touching of an intimate part or intercourse without freely given agreement. This definition came from La Crosse Sexual Assault Services Group (LSASG ).

Any sexual contact that you do not want is sexual assault. Please know that being assaulted is never the victim's fault. The cause of sexual assault has nothing to do with the victim's previous or current behavior, nor does it happen because the perpetrator simply can't control him/herself. Sexual assault happens due to the desire of the perpetrator(s) to exert power and control over an individual(s).

Potentially, one in four college women and one in six college men are victims of an attempted or completed sexual assault.

Legal Definitions of Sexual Assault in Wisconsin

It is important to understand the legal definition of sexual assault. Sexual assault is any forced or coerced sexual intercourse or contact. It is a crime of violence in which assailants, whether known to the victim or not, are motivated by a desire to humiliate and have power over the victim. There are four degrees of sexual assault.

This information was taken from the Wisconsin State Statutes and is not in its entirety. The statute in full can be found at Wis. State. Sec. 940.225

First Degree Sexual Assault

Sexual contact or intercourse which:

  • Causes pregnancy or great bodily harm.
  • Is accomplished by use or threat of use of a dangerous weapon.
  • Is aided or abetted by one or more persons through the use or threat of force or violence.

Second Degree Sexual Assault 

Sexual intercourse or sexual contact without consent:

  • Through the use or threat of force or violence.
  • Which causes injury, illness, disease, or impairment of a sexual or reproductive organ, or mental anguish requiring psychiatric care.
  • Sexual intercourse or sexual contact with a person known by the perpetrator to beunconsciousor mentally ill or mentally deficient.
  • Sexual intercourse or sexual contact without consent while aided or abetted by one or more persons.

Third Degree Sexual Assault 

Sexual contact involving ejaculation or sexual intercourse with a person without the consent of that person.

Fourth Degree Sexual Assault  

Sexual contact with a person without the consent of that person.

What does it mean to have "consent"?

Consent means words or overt actions by a person who is competent to give informed consent indicating a freely given agreement to have sexual intercourse or sexual contact. 

Consent is not an issue in alleged violations of second degree sexual assault. The following persons are presumed incapable of consent:

  • A person suffering from a mental illness or defect which impairs capacity to appraise personal conduct.
  • A person who is unconscious or for any other reason is physically unable to communicate unwillingness to an act. If the person assaulted was intoxicated at the time, they are unable to give consent. The perpetrator could be charged with 2nd degree alcohol-facilitated sexual assault

What does "sexual contact" mean?

Any of the following:

  • Intentional touching by the complainant or defendant, either directly or through clothing by the use of any body part or object, of the complainants or defendants intimate parts if that intentional touching is either for the purpose of sexually degrading or for the purpose of sexually humiliating the complainant or sexually arousing or gratifying the defendant or if the touching contains the elements of actual or attempted battery under s.940.19(1);
  • Intentional penile ejaculation of ejaculate or intentional emission of urine or feces by the defendant upon any part of the body clothed or unclothed of the complainant if that ejaculation or emission is either for the purpose of sexually degrading or sexually humiliating the complainant or for the purpose of sexually arousing or gratifying the defendant;

Sexual intercourse includes the meaning assigned under s.939.22(36) as well as cunnilingus, fellatio or anal intercourse between persons or any other intrusion, however slight, of any part of a person's body or of any object into the genital or anal opening either by the defendant or upon the defendant's instruction. The emission of semen is not required.

Sexual intercourse with a child age 16 or older. Whoever has sexual intercourse with a child who is not the defendant's spouse and who has attained the age of 16 years is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.

Sexual exploitation by a therapist Intentional sexual contact by a therapist during any ongoing therapist/patient or therapist/client relationship. This is also a crime and should be reported. Refer to Wisconsin State Statutes 940.22.