Seek help immediately after sexual assault

Speaking from the bar

Facts about sexual assault and abuse are often dismissed because people have grown up with false beliefs about why a person is sexually violated and who is responsible for the crime. Any person can be a victim of sexual assault or sexual abuse regardless of their age or sex.

Contrary to popular belief, victims and perpetrators come from all socio-economic backgrounds, ages and races. Most perpetrators know or are friends of their victims, 33 percent of all rapes occur on dates. Statistics indicate that more than one-third of all rapes take place in the victim’s home. Sexual violence occurs not as a response to sexual desire, but when an attacker perceives that the age, situation, time or attitudes of his victim make her/him vulnerable to attack. Sixty to 75 percent of all sexual violence are planned in advance.

The law divides sexual violence into two categories; sexual penetration and sexual conduct that involves unwanted touching or fondling. The law provides for a range of penalties that take in to account the dangerousness of the accused and the vulnerability of the victim. Since 1984, sexual assault and sexual abuse have been defined in terms of the defender’s behavior rather than the state of mind of the victim, making prosecution for sexual assault consistent with that of other crimes and providing for more humane treatment of the victims.

Criminal Sexual Assault may be proved in one of three ways:. Sexual penetration by the use of force or threat of force.

2. Sexual penetration and the accused knows that the victim is unable to understand the nature of the act or unable to give knowing consent.

3. Sexual penetration with a victim who is under 17 years of age when the act is committed and the accused is a family member. This is a Class I felony (four to 15 years imprisonment).

Aggravated Criminal Assault is criminal sexual assault involving one or more of six aggravating circumstances: use of a dangerous weapon, causing bodily harm, placing the victim in a life-endangering situation, committing the assault in the course of committing another felony, the victim is over 60 or under 13 years of age, the victim is a physically handicapped person. This is a Class X felony (six to 30 years mandatory imprisonment).

Criminal Sexual Abuse may be charged if the accused committed an act of sexual conduct with force or threat of force; or if the accused committed an act of sexual conduct and the victim was unable to understand the nature of the act or unable to give effective consent. This is a Class A misdemeanor (up to one year in jail).

Aggravated Criminal Abuse may be charged if the accused committed criminal sexual abuse and one of two aggravating circumstances existed: If the accused used a dangerous weapon or caused great bodily harm. This is a Class 2 felony (three to seven years imprisonment or probation).

The law recognizes the complexity of intrafamilial sexual assault and the special pressures on child victims. When a family member is involved, the law provides the greatest flexibility in sentencing—including probation. The factors the court must consider in granting probation are delineated.

The accused can raise the defense of consent to any charge requiring proof of force or threat of force by presenting evidence that agreement was freely given to the sexual act in question. Lack of resistence or submission by the victim resulting from the use of force or threat of force by the accused does not constitute consent. The phrase ‘against her will’ has been eliminated. If the victim knows the offender, the law does not presume consent.

All rape victims should get medical attention, whether or not they choose to report the incident to the police. The Illinois Rape Victims Emergency Treatment Act provides that a hospital must treat you even if you do not have public or private medical insurance. It is the hospital’s responsibility to apply for reimbursement from the Illinois Department of Health. The primary medical concerns are physical injuries, venereal disease and pregnancy. Resist the temptation to bathe, douche or change clothes before the exam—this destroys evidence. Preventative pregnancy medication is only effective if given within 72 hours of the attack. Hospital personnel cannot release information to area police without the victim’s explicit consent.

Sexual assault victims endure pain, humiliation, guilt and grief. Talking to a counselor can help you obtain a perspective on the situation. Any confidence shared with a counselor can not be revealed without your permission. If you have been raped or want more information on rape prevention, call:

Sexual Assault and Abuse Center, 758-6655

Ben Gordon Mental Health Center, 756-4875

NIU Counseling and Student Development, 753-1209

DeKalb Police Department, 756-1421

University Police, 753-1212

Safe Passage, 756-2228

Don Henderson

Lynn Richards

Students’ Legal Assistance