A Students Guide to Preventing and Responding to Sexual Violence
Remember that preventing sexual violence is not the responsibility of only one gender. Both males and females can play a valuable role in creating a safe and comfortable campus environment.
Steps To Consider If You Are Assaulted:
- Get to a place where you feel safe.
- Tell someone you trust.
- Consider reporting the assault to Public Safety and/or to the Office of Judicial Affairs and Community Responsibility.
You may make a report even if you are uncertain whether you wish to file criminal or on-campus judicial charges.
- Consider getting a physical and forensic exam.
A qualified physician or nurse will examine you for injuries and collect physical evidence that could be used in criminal proceedings, if you decide to prosecute. Medication is also available to minimize the risk of contracting an STD or unwanted pregnancy.
If the assault occurred within the past 24 hours, don't bathe, don't change clothes or linens, and don't douche as this can destroy physical evidence of the assault. If you feel the need to change or clean up immediately, place all evidence in a brown paper bag and never in plastic as this may compromise the physical evidence. If stored properly this evidence may stay viable for an extended period of time, however it is advised that you take action within the first 72 hours.
- Seek counseling. Early intervention helps survivors recover. Student Counseling Services staff is available 24 hours a day and seven days a week, as are off-campus resources.
Student Counseling Services
During the academic semester, counseling is available from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday and Wednesday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday, and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday. Additional group and workshop programs are offered throughout the week after office hours. For further information or to arrange and appointment, call Student Counseling Services at (516) 463-6745.
Student Counseling Services is located in the Wellness and Campus Living Center, which is on the north side of Hempstead Turnpike, across from Nassau/Suffolk residence hall and Hof USA.
In the event of an emergency, on-call counselors may be reached 24/7 by calling Public Safety at (516) 463-6789. Public Safety will contact an on-call counselor who will respond immediately.
What If It's A Friend Who Has Been Assaulted?
Understand the myths and realities of sexual assault.
Remember that sexual assault is an act of violence and aggression, and less about sexual needs or attraction. Survivors are never responsible for the assault even if they had been drinking, had been walking alone, had invited the assailant to their room, and so on. Asking questions about these issues, or about whether survivors fought back or called for help is not supportive, and might reinforce stereotypes about sexual assault.
Understand your friend's immediate and long-term needs and concerns.
Every assault survivor responds to the trauma in his or her own way. Don't assume you know what kind of support your friend would like. It's okay to ask! And don't worry that asking will remind him or her of the assault. Survivors don't forget the assault, and your concern will mean a lot. Even though circumstances and feelings vary, there are some common issues that survivors often confront. These include the need for medical attention, managing the emotional trauma, decisions about a forensic exam, concerns about STDs and pregnancy, wondering if or how to tell family and other friends, and decisions about reporting to the authorities. If the assailant was someone known to the survivor, the survivors might worry about encountering him or her in a class or on the campus. Ultimately your friend will value your support as he or she regains a sense of control, and returns to everyday activities.
Recognize and accept his/her feelings.
First and foremost, believe your friend! Ask how he or she is feeling and listen to what they tell you. There is no "right" way to respond to an assault, so don't be surprised and don't pressure your friend to feel as you think he or she "ought" to. He or she might feel anger, but guilt and shame also are common emotions, even though they are unwarranted. Your friend might worry about what others will think, and if the assault happened in the context of a relationship, he or she might even worry about the perpetrator's well being. Don't make supporting your friend contingent on their feeling a certain way or taking certain actions. Support their autonomy!
Recognize and accept your own feelings.
It's natural to have strong feelings if a friend has been assaulted, but your anger and your reactions shouldn't interfere with supporting your friend. You might have different feelings, or feel differently about your friend's choices but this isn't about you. Do take care of yourself and seek support if you need it. As a student, counseling services are available to you as well.
Communicate compassion and support.
Don't interrogate your friend about what happened, but do be available to talk if your friend wishes. Your role is not to be a detective, therapist or a judge; it is to be a support.
Survivors of sexual assault temporarily lose control over their life and body. It is important that their decisions are respected now, even if you disagree with their choices. Your friend may make different decisions than you would make and that is his or her right. Don't use pressure or guilt to coerce them into taking action.
If you are an intimate partner...
Don't pressure your partner to resume sexual activity before he or she is ready, but don't withdraw physically either. Understand that their responses and desires may be different (for a while) - this is also not about you! Do be open, receptive, patient and emotionally available.
Learn about supportive resources on campus and in the community.
Hofstra University Student Counseling Services provides psychological counseling to discuss emotional difficulties or personal concerns. Students can also be introduced to resources that offer specialized or additional services in the community.
Share a copy of this information with your friend!