College Students: Five Steps You Can Take After A Sexual Assault

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4 teenagers walk with backpacks in a line away from camera, 2 guys and 2 girls

APPROXIMATELY 1 IN 5 COLLEGE WOMEN ARE SEXUALLY ASSAULTED

Statistics show that approximately 20 percent of female college students will experience a sexual assault, yet most college women do not know where to turn or what to do if they are sexually assaulted.  If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, there are five steps you should take:

  1. SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION. You should seek medical attention as soon as possible after a sexual assault. Many experts suggest visiting an emergency room because a hospital is equipped to provide you with necessary medical treatment such as antibiotic injections, STD testing, toxicology screening, and the collection of forensic rape evidence (also known as a “rape kit”). In order to preserve evidence, you should go to the hospital quickly and you should try not to shower, brush your teeth, or change clothes, and if possible, you should refrain from using the restroom. Do you feel like too much time has passed since the assault? Or that you have done something to destroy evidence of the assault? While it may impact the results of a rape kit, you should not let this deter you from seeking medical attention.
  2. NOTIFY THE POLICE. Be prepared to give a statement to the police that recounts as many details as you can remember. Follow up with police if you remember any additional information and obtain a copy of the police report when it is available. If you have any evidence of the assault such as text messages, social media posts, photos, recordings, or phone call records, provide a copy to the police and keep a copy for yourself.
  3. CONTACT YOUR TITLE IX DEPARTMENT. Title IX is a federal gender equity law that requires any school receiving federal funding to investigate a reported sexual assault and to provide reasonable accommodations to a student that has been sexually assaulted. Contact your school’s Title IX department to report the assault, discuss the possibility of an investigation or a no-contact order, and find out what accommodations are available to you under Title IX.
  4. SEEK SUPPORT SERVICES. You have just been through a very traumatic event and it is important to seek help. Ask your Title IX department and your local rape crisis center about available resources. Under Title IX, colleges are required to help you access counseling after a sexual assault. Additionally, local rape crisis centers can provide you with off-campus resources and support options.
  5. CONTACT AN ATTORNEY. Reach out to an attorney to discuss your options. Many attorneys will provide a free consultation and can help you understand your legal options.  An attorney may be able to guide you through communications with your school or the police, the school’s Title IX investigation of the assault, or a civil lawsuit.

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