Traumatic Experiences

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Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment

Sexual assault is sexual contact initiated against a person without his or her consent. Consent cannot be inferred from passivity or silence; nor can the existence of a current or previous relationship constitute consent. One in four women are sexually assaulted during their college years. Nearly 85% of rapes are committed by someone known to the victim. Most acquaintance rapes involve drug or alcohol use.
Examples of sexual assault include:
  • Completed or attempted rape
  • Threats of rape
  • Sexual coercion
  • Unwanted sexual contact with force or threat of force
  • Stalking
Symptoms of trauma due to a sexual assault include:
  • Jumpiness, irritability
  • Edginess, not feeling safe
  • Hypervigilance, hyper-awareness
  • Mood changes, bouts of sadness
  • Missed classes, changes in performance
  • Heightened sensitivity to touch
  • Withdrawal or disruptions within relationships
  • Spacing out
  • Difficulty concentrating and studying
  • Difficulty sleeping, nightmares
Sexual harassment is unwanted, unwelcome sexual advances or requests for sexual favors or other verbal, written, visual, or physical conduct of a sexual nature that is either:
  • explicitly or implicitly made as a term or condition of an individual’s employment or academic status; or
  • is used as a basis for an employment or an academic decision affecting that person.
Harassing behaviors may include:
  • Attempts to communicate via phone, email, websites, chat groups, FAX, letters
  • Giving unwanted gifts
  • Displays of sexual material
  • Unwanted physical contact
Wellesley College’s Sexual Misconduct Policy along with information about resources for students and others can be found here. Please refer to these materials for information about these topics and strategies for responding to concerns about these matters. 
Wellesley College’s Policy Against Sexual Harassment and Unlawful Discrimination can be found here.  This document outlines resources and options for students who may have been subject to sexual harassment or unlawful discrimination by a College faculty or staff member, and describes examples of unprofessional conduct and inappropriate romantic relationships between College faculty/staff and students.
If a student has any questions regarding any issues of sexual misconduct, sexual harassment, sex discrimination, any other types of unlawful discrimination, harassment or retaliation, or this policy, she may consult the Interim Dean of Students Carol Bate (, 781.283.2370) or the College’s Title IX Coordinator.