Sexual Assault, Race, and Difference

Societal myths about race and sexuality combine to play a significant role in responses to sexual assault—from the victim’s reaction to an assault, to a prosecutor or judge’s confidence in the validity of her or his story, to the credibility members of the jury give to her or his testimony and their willingness to accept the act described as a sexual violation. Because these responses are societal and cultural, we recognize that any effort to address them must go beyond the legal system itself, to the larger society, including religion and culture.

Read about victim race and rape as it pertains to Black womenNative American womenAsian and Asian-American women, Latinas, and women in religious communities.

Sexual violence in schools, including universities, prevents sexual assault survivors from benefiting fully from their education. The federal Office of Civil Rights is taking a leadership role to help schools prevent and respond to such violence. The federal government defines sexual violence as a form of sexual harassment, which is prohibited as sex discrimination under Title IX. Read the federal guidelines (as articulated in 2011, 2006, and 2000) and examples of federal responses to Title IX complaints concerning sexual violence and harassment.