The University of Texas at Austin - What Starts Here Changes The World
The University of Texas at Austin Division of Student Affairs

voices against violence

Sexual Violence Defined

Sexual violence is any kind of sexual contact against a person's will and without consent. Sexual violence can happen to anyone, no matter their age, gender-identity, race, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, class background, religion, or ability.

Some commonly heard terms that fall under the umbrella of sexual violence include:

  • Sexual Assault: Any unwanted sexual contact, including intercourse, touching, or oral sexual stimulation that is performed without consent, often through the use or threat of force.
  • Rape: Any kind of sexual intercourse (penetration) - vaginal, oral, or anal - that is committed against a person's will or is committed with physical force or the threat of force. Intercourse during which the victim is drunk, unconscious or otherwise considered unable to consent is also rape. Rape is a subcategory of sexual assault.

It's not your fault

Sexual violence, including sexual assault, is a choice one person makes to ignore or deny someone else's wishes and autonomy through violent sexual means. Sexual assault is never the fault of the person experiencing harm, no matter the circumstance or the type of relationship between those involved. A common feeling shared by those who have survived a sexual assault is that they somehow must have been to blame for what happened. If you are having similar thoughts and feelings, it is important to remember that nobody ever asks to be raped or sexually assaulted. You are not to blame, even if you:
  • had too much to drink.
  • used drugs.
  • froze in response to what was happening.
  • did not fight back.
  • have little or no memory of what happened.
  • have had sex with this individual or someone else before.
  • said "yes" to one type of sexual intimacy but not to what happened.
  • were sexually assaulted by someone who:
    • is related to you.
    • is popular/influential.
    • has the same gender identity as you.
    • you know and trust.
    • you did not know.

We know that most sexual assault is perpetrated by people who are known and trusted by a survivor. Sometimes survivors question whether what they've experienced is assault, especially if the person who harmed them was a partner or someone with whom they've had consensual sex. Some people are sexually assaulted by someone they don't know or don't know well.

Survivors' needs often change over time and decision making regarding support, reporting, and healing is an ongoing process. Some decisions are time-sensitive. Some resources, such as on-campus counseling, are available no matter when the assault occurred. Survivors are encouraged to consult with a VAV advocate to make informed choices. UT supports the right of survivors to choose the options that best meet their needs. If you are a UT student and would like to know more about your rights and options, including reporting, please see the UT Austin Title IX Resource Guide.

The University Commitment

The University of Texas at Austin ("University") is committed to maintaining a learning environment that is free from discriminatory conduct based on gender. As required by Title IX, the University does not discriminate on the basis of sex in its education programs and activities, and it encourages any student or non-student who thinks that he or she has been subjected to sex discrimination, sexual harassment (including sexual violence) or sexual misconduct by another student, member of the faculty or staff, or campus visitor or contractor, to immediately report the incident to any of the individuals persons or offices listed on this website:

The official policy of UT Austin can be found here:

Sexual Violence Issues

UT Austin Title IX Resource Guide
Immediate Medical Options
Safety Planning
Common Reactions
Taking Care of Yourself
Reporting Options
Concerns Related to Identity
Male Survivors of Sexual Assault (PDF)

UT Counseling and Mental Health Center

UT Counseling and Mental Health Center Voices Against Violence
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About VAV

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Crisis Line

Individual Counseling

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Safety Planning

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Reporting Options

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Healthy Relationships

Dating and Relationship Violence

Sexual Violence


How to Help a Survivor


Theatre for Dialogue

Get Sexy, Get Consent

VAV Student Organization

VAV Support Campaign

Be Vocal

Get Academic Credit

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Report a Bias Incident  

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The University of Texas at Austin - What Starts Here Changes The World