What to Do If You Are Raped or Sexually Assaulted
Take care of your immediate personal safety
- Call 911 if you are in immediate danger
- The University seeks an end to all forms of sexual violence and harassment and takes all complaints very seriously. The first thing to do is to get to a safe place. Contact a friend, family member, a residential life staff member, University Police, or the Dean of Students office to ensure your safety. This does not mean that you have to “report” the details of the incident unless you choose to. This is about your being safe. (There is a detailed phone list later in this document)
Contact Voices against Violence
- Once your safety is assured, the University recommends that you contact Voices Against Violence. (Voices is a non-profit, fully confidential organization that Plymouth State partners with that provides information and support to victims of sexual violence and harassment, stalking, and bullying) An advocate from Voices Against Violence (VAV – Hotline (877) 221-6167 http://voicesagainstviolence.net/) is available 24 hours a day through the hotline number listed above and can support and guide victims with all their needs, especially important during those moments immediately following a sexual assault. In addition, a Voices advocate can assist students who have been the victim of sexual assault in any of the areas below:
- Emergency rape crisis treatment and emergency medical services, as well as the coordination of accompanying the victim to the hospital, police, etc. as requested.
- Guide and support victims throughout the University judicial process and/or the criminal justice process, should the victim choose to pursue any of these courses of action.
- Assist in resolving academic concerns such as missing classes and/or assignments, or the need to change sections of specific classes.
- Assist in contacting other community resources, or support services on campus.
- Other support and assistance as needed, always at the choice and preference of the victim.
- Your health and safety are a primary concern of the University. It is extremely important that you seek medical attention as soon as possible, preferably within 72 hours, because depending on the nature of the assault you might be injured internally as well as externally. Prompt medical examinations can test for pregnancy, STDs, HIV, and venereal disease. A medical examination can also secure valuable evidence that could be used later if you wish to have the assailant prosecuted. The choice to report and prosecute is yours, but physical evidence is difficult to collect unless you seek medical attention promptly. Sometimes your initial instincts to drink, bathe, brush your teeth, comb your hair, even change your clothes, while natural, will eliminate evidence.
Confidential Support and Services
Different people on campus have different reporting responsibilities, different abilities to resolve sexual assault complaints, and different abilities to maintain your confidentiality. If you want the details of the incident to be kept fully confidential, you should initially speak with one of the following:
- An advocate from Voices against Violence (VAV – Hotline (877) 221-6167 http://voicesagainstviolence.net/) Advocates are available 24 hours a day through the hotline number listed above and can support and guide victims with and through all their needs.
- A counselor from our Counseling and Human Relations Center – 535-2461 (http://www.plymouth.edu/office/counseling/)
- A health service provider at our Health Services or any medical facility – 535-2350 (http://www.plymouth.edu/services/health/)
- Clergy, working within our Campus Ministry Office including our Campus Ministry Office – 535-2673
Seeking Support and Advice
You can seek support and advice from resources on campus who are not required to tell anyone else your private, personal identifiable information, unless in the rare case there is fear for your personal safety or the safety of others. These resources include faculty members, advisers to student organizations, many service administrators on campus, student activities personnel, staff in the S.A.G.E. (Sexuality, Anti-Violence, Gender and Equality) Center, etc. If you are unsure of someone’s duties and their ability to maintain your privacy, simply ask them before you speak to them about your incident. They will be able to tell you their responsibilities and to help you make decisions about who can best assist you.
Official Reporting Options
You have the choice to speak to officials of the institution to make a formal report of incidents to Residential Life Staff, the Dean of Students, the Coordinator for Student Conduct, Vice President of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs, University Police, or others who can take action to assist you regarding incidents of sexual misconduct. Note that the University treats all such reports very seriously.
Frequently Asked Questions:
- Does my complaint remain confidential?
We strive to strictly observe the confidentiality of all parties involved in a complaint of sexual misconduct. Dissemination of any information to those not directly involved in the complaint procedure, or with a defined need to know, is not permitted unless allowed by law or other policy. Any violations of these privacy requirements may lead to conduct action by the University.
- Will my parents be told?
No, not unless you tell them. Whether you are the complainant or the accused, the University’s first relationship is to the students and not to the parent. However, you are strongly encouraged to include your family in the discussion as they can be a great source of support. University officials would only inform the parents if the student requested it or was in a health/life-threatening situation. If there is a University judicial process and the accused is found responsible, it is likely that their family would be notified of that judicial decision.
- Will I have to confront the perpetrator?
Sexual misconduct is a serious offense and in all due process procedures the accused has a right to engage their accuser. However, special provisions can be provided to allow this engagement to occur without direct contact, which can include closed-circuit television/Skype testimony, room dividers, or separate hearing rooms with speaker phones. A discussion of these options is part of your initial meeting with the appropriate student conduct official.
- Do I have to name the perpetrator?
If you want formal judicial action to be taken against the alleged perpetrator, yes. No, if you choose to not file a complaint (You should review the confidentiality policies included in the Title IX section of the handbook to better understand the University’s legal obligations depending on what information you share with various University officials).
- What about changing residence hall rooms or other housing situations?
If you want to change your on-campus living environment, you may request a move and these are considered urgent circumstances from the University’s perspective. If you want the accused to move, and you believe you have been the victim of sexual misconduct, you will need to be willing to pursue University conduct action. The alleged perpetrator would likely then be moved immediately on an interim basis pending the resolution of your complaint. The ultimate and final resolution would be a determination made based on the outcome of the conduct hearing. Some other accommodations available to you might include:
- Assistance from University staff in completing a relocation
- Other housing related resolutions and might even include the dissolving of a housing contract.
- Academic support and resolution to potentially include rescheduling of work, taking an incomplete, changing section of a class, etc.
- Imposing a no contact order between both parties
- Does the use of drugs or alcohol affect the outcome of a sexual misconduct complaint process?
- Sexual misconduct is a very serious concern and the University does not want to inhibit the reporting of these incidents in any way. To that end, a student reporting sexual misconduct would not be held judicially responsible for a policy violation. If appropriate, educational opportunities may be recommended depending on the severity of the alcohol/drug use.
- The use of alcohol and/or drugs by either party will not diminish the accused student’s responsibility.
- The welfare of students is our greatest concern. At times, students are hesitant to offer assistance to others or to make reports for fear that they may find themselves in trouble because of their own violation of University policy regarding alcohol and other drugs. The University does have an amnesty policy that protects students from the more serious judicial sanctioning in these situations.