Center for Health Education & Wellness


What is Sexual Assault


Sexual assault is any type of sexual activity that you do not agree to, including inappropriate touching; vaginal, anal, or oral penetration; sexual intercourse that you say no to; rape; attempted rape; harassment; exposing/flashing; forcing a person to pose for sexual pictures; or child molestation. Sexual assault can be verbal, visual, or anything that forces a person to join in unwanted sexual contact or attention. A common form of sexual assault is rape. It is committed in many situations — on a date, by a friend or an acquaintance, or by a stranger. Rape and sexual assault are never the victim’s fault — no matter where or how it happens.

For more information visit the Woman’s Health Fact Sheet

Sexual Battery, Aggravated Sexual Battery, and Rape Defined:

  • Rape (T.C.A. § 39-13-503).
    1. Rape is unlawful sexual penetration of a victim by the defendant or of the defendant by a victim accompanied by any of the following circumstances:
      1. Force or coercion is used to accomplish the act;
      2. The sexual penetration is accomplished without the consent of the victim and the defendant knows or has reason to know at the time of the penetration that the victim did not consent;
      3. The defendant knows or has reason to know that the victim is mentally defective, mentally incapacitated or physically helpless; or
      4. The sexual penetration is accomplished by fraud.
    2. Rape is a Class B felony.
  • Aggravated Sexual Battery (T.C.A. § 39-13-504)
    1. Aggravated Sexual Battery is unlawful sexual contact with any of the following circumstances:
      1. Force or coercion is used to accomplish the act and the defendant is armed with a weapon or any article used or fashioned in a manner to lead the victim reasonably to believe it to be a weapon;
      2. The defendant causes bodily injury to the victim;
      3. The defendant is aided or abetted by one or more other persons and force or coercion is used to accomplish the act or the defendant knows or has reason to know that the victim is mentally defective, mentally incapacitated or physically helpless;
      4. or the victim is less than 13 years of age.
    2. Aggravated sexual battery is a Class B felony.
  • Sexual Battery (T.C.A. § 39-13-505)
    1. Sexual battery is unlawful sexual contact with a victim by the defendant or the defendant by a victim accompanied by any of the following circumstances:
      1. Force or coercion is used to accomplish the act;
      2. The sexual contact is accomplished without the consent of the victim and the defendant knows or has reason to know at the time of the contact that the victim did not consent;
      3. The defendant knows or has reason to know that the victim is mentally defective, mentally incapacitated or physically helpless; or
      4. The sexual contact is accomplished by fraud.
    2. As used in this section, “coercion” means the threat of kidnapping, extortion, force or violence to be performed immediately or in the future.
    3. Sexual battery is a Class E felony.

For more information about the TN law pertaining to sexual assault in Tennessee please visit Statutory Definitions of Tennessee Sexual and Violent Sexual Offenses with Related Codes.

Learn about your rights at Hilltopics and by visiting the Student Conduct & Community Standards page.

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