Student Life: Health and Wellness

Answers to Sexual Assault Questions

What is Sexual Assault? How Do I Know if I Have Been Raped?

The exact definition of "rape," "sexual assault," and similar terms differs by state. The wording can get confusing, since states often use different words to mean the same thing, or use the same words to describe different things. For a precise legal definition, you need to check the law in your state.

Georgia Legal Definition of Rape

(GCA & 36-2001)

(a) A person commits the offense of rape when he has carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will. Carnal knowledge in rape occurs when there is any penetration of the female sex organ by the male organ. The fact that the person allegedly raped is the wife of the defendant shall not be a defense to change of rape.

(b) A person convicted of the offense of rape shall be punished by death, by imprisonment for life, or by imprisonment for not less than ten and no more than 20 years. Any person convicted under this Code section shall, in addition, be subject to the sentencing and punishment provisions of Code Sections 17-10-7.

Here are some general guidelines based on the definitions used by the U.S. Justice Department.

Rape is forced sexual intercourse, including vaginal, anal or oral penetration. Penetration may be by a body part or an object.

Rape victims may be forced through threats or physical means. In about 8 out of 10 rapes, no weapon is used other than physical force. Anyone may be a victim of rape regardless of gender, age or sexual orientation.

Sexual Assault
Sexual assault is unwanted sexual contact that stops short of rape or attempted rape. This includes sexual touching and fondling. (But be aware: Some states use this term interchangeably with rape.)

Source: Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network:

What Do I Do If I Have Been Raped?

  • Find a safe place. Call a friend, roommate, RA, counselor or someone you trust and ask them to remain with you to support you.
  • There are a number of Spelman resources available to you.
  • You may call the Spelman College Sexual Assault Helpline at 678-873-5884 anytime day or night, 24-hours a day, seven days a week.
  • If you are on campus, contact Public Safety at 404-525-6401. If you are off campus, call 911 emergency service.
  • Get medical attention, even if it does not appear that you have been injured. Sexual assaults can cause all kinds of injuries and it is important for you to be examined for external or internal injuries. If you plan to report the assault, you may choose to go to Grady Rape Crisis Center 404-616-4861 or other local rape crisis center at any hour.
  • You may also contact the Spelman College Counseling Center where staff members will be available to accompany you or meet you at the hospital and to remain with you for support in complete confidence. The Spelman College Women’s Health Clinic can be reached at 404-270-5247 to assist you by providing confidential pregnancy testing and screening for sexually transmitted infection.
  • Preserve evidence. Don’t change your clothes or underwear. If you must remove your clothing, do so carefully and bring them with you to the hospital in a paper bag.
  • Don’t shower, bathe, brush your teeth, douche, drink or smoke. If you suspect you were drugged, try not to use the restroom until a urine sample can be collected.
  • Most women who have survived a sexual assault find it helpful to speak with a counselor. The Spelman College Counseling Services Department is available 24 hours a day. Spelman College Counseling Services offers professional clinicians trained to assist survivors of sexual assault.
  • Counseling staff are available to assist you as you work through your feelings and decide what your next steps will be. The Spelman College Counseling Center can be reached at 404-270-5293.
  • Write down as much as you can remember about the circumstances of the assault, including a description of the person who assaulted you.

How Do I Help a Friend Who Has Been Sexually Assaulted?

  • Offer shelter. Make sure that your friend has a safe place to stay and does not have to be alone until she is ready;
  • Be supportive of her and exercise patience. Offer emotional comfort and support.  Encourage her to talk about her feelings. Don’t ask for details but be willing to listen if she wants to talk;
  • Encourage her to take action, but don’t push. Gently encourage her to get medical attention, seek counseling, and make a report -- even if the assault occurred some time ago;
  • Go with her when she decides to seek help;
  • Be reassuring, not judgmental. Rape is never the victim’s fault.  Some things you can say to someone who has been sexually assaulted are:

“I believe you.”
“You survived.”
“It is not your fault.”
“I am sorry it happened to you.”

What are Tips to Prevent Acquaintance Rape (Date Rape)?

  • Do not attend parties alone. Always go with a group of your friends and watch out for each other;
  • Do not accept rides home from parties or other places from people you do not know;
  • Be clear and firm when saying no. Don’t smile and act friendly;
  • Communicate clearly your rules and expectations;
  • Make your own suggestions about what to do or where to go on dates;
  • Do not abuse alcohol or drugs. Never accept a drink from a stranger;
  • Don’t go out with anyone who mistreats or disrespects women in any way;
  • Stay alert, be aware of your surroundings;
  • End a date early if your date becomes intoxicated;
  • Get away if you begin to feel uncomfortable;
  • Meet your date in public places where a lot of people are around. Do not give a stranger your home address;
  • If you don’t know the person you are dating, double date with friends until you get to know the person better;
  • Always carry cash or a calling card for a phone call. Keep it on your person at all times and not in your purse;
  • Always carry enough cash to get home if needed;
  • Trust your own instincts. If something doesn’t look or seem right, leave immediately.

What is Spelman College's Sexual Assault Policy?