Every 2 minutes someone in the U.S.
is sexual assaulted and college campus are not exempt. Sexual assault is generally defined as unwanted sexual contact through physical force, threats, or intimidation. It can also occur when individuals are unable to consent to sexual activity, such as when a person has been drinking, using drugs or may be unconscious. Sexual assault is a criminal act, which may subject the perpetrator to criminal and civil penalties under federal and state law, and in some instances, the accused may face University disciplinary procedures. Sexual assault can have severe emotional, physical, social and physiological effects on the victim and those who care about the victim.
Risk Awareness Strategies
- Keep in mind that alcohol use and other drugs affect your ability to make decisions and react to situations.
- Be direct - communicate your sexual desires and boundaries.
- Be assertive. State what you really want and are feeling. When you say “no”, make your message clear.
- Be cautious when inviting someone to your residence or accepting an invitation to his or her residence. Acquaintance rapes often occur in a residence.
- Trust your instincts – believe your inner feelings when you get uncomfortable about a person or situation – Leave!
- Avoid secluded places where you are in a vulnerable position.
- Be alert - watch out for your friends.
If you are the Victim of a Sexual Assault…
Find a safe place: Get away from the attacker. Stay with a trusted friend for support.
Consider reporting the attack. It is your decision to report the attack to police by calling 911 or (215) 204-1234. All formal complaints will be treated confidentially and consistent with applicable legal requirements and customary law enforcement practices. Complainants will be advised of available support services, as well as legal and administrative options.
Preserve evidence of the attack.
- Don’t wash, shower, or brush your teeth.
- If you have to change clothes, keep the clothes you were wearing in a paper bag.
- Don’t launder items from the area where the assault occurred, e.g. bed sheets.
- Write down all the details you can recall about the attack and the attacker.
Get medical attention. Even with no apparent physical injuries, it is still important to get medical care. The hospital will complete pregnancy and STD testing. To preserve forensic evidence, the hospital will conduct a rape kit exam.
Get counseling support. Realize that you have experienced a traumatic event, and each person will react to it in a unique manner. It is recommended that you obtain support to help you through this difficult process. Whether you seek services on campus or in the community, remember that self-care is an important part in coping with the trauma. Give yourself the time you need.
How Can You Help a Friend
- Be supportive – not judgmental.
- Let your friend know the assault was not their fault – the responsibility lies with the perpetrator, not the survivor.
- Encourage your friend to seek medical attention, and offer to accompany her or him.
- If you want to hug or touch your friend to show your support, ask if this is okay first. Remember, the survivor was violated and did not have control over what was done to his/her body.
- Allow your friend to make her/his own decisions about whether or not to report the assault, whom to tell, etc., but offer options.
- Allow the survivor to share what he/she wants when he/she wants. Don’t pressure your friend to share information before he/she is ready, and don’t judge her/his actions.
- Offer resources. Your friend is entitled to support. Ask if she/he would like to speak to an advocate, mental health professional or other person(s) they trust.
- If the survivor thinks that she/he may want to report the assault, or at least keep that option open, it is important to preserve all evidence.