Sexual violence includes attacks or attempted attacks related to unwanted sexual contact. These acts may be perpetrated by a stranger or by someone known to the survivor, including an acquaintance, friend or intimate partner.
There are no methods that absolutely guarantee one’s safety from sexual violence. However, it may help to think about personal safety and communication, as well as have a clear understanding of what sexual violence is. In all instances of rape or sexual assault, it is the assailant who is to blame and we must never assume that there is something a person "should have done" to prevent themselves from being sexually assaulted.
Be Safe and Aware
- If you think you may be at risk in any situation, leave immediately and go to a safe place.
- Attend parties with friends you can trust and look out for one another. Try to leave with a group, rather than alone or with someone you don't know very well.
- Be prepared to resist pressure from others to participate in illegal or inappropriate sexual acts.
- Be aware of controlling behaviors in yourself or others. Extreme jealousy or possessiveness, use of degrading language and/or a history of violent behavior may be associated with sexual violence.
Don’t Make Assumptions
- Don't assume that someone wants to have sex just because they are intoxicated, dressed a certain way, or agrees to go to your room.
- Just because you have previously had sex with someone does not mean that they want to have sex with you again.
- A person may consent to kissing or other sexual intimacies, but that does not suggest that they are willing to have sex.
- Listen carefully to what the other person is saying and if you are unsure ask for clarification.
- Know your sexual intentions and limits. You have the right to refuse any unwanted sexual contact. If you are uncertain about what you want, ask the person to respect your feelings and boundaries.
- Communicate your limits directly. Back up your words with a firm tone of voice and clear body language.
- Get involved if you believe someone is at risk. If you see a person in trouble don't be afraid to intervene.
- Educate others about rape and sexual assault. Help to clear up any misconceptions others might have.
- Take notice of any suspicious persons or situations. Contact Public Safety if you have concerns.
- Everyone plays an important role in creating a safe and comfortable campus environment.
If you have, or know someone who has, been sexually assaulted, Student Counseling Services is available for confidential support. A medical evaluation and reporting the assault to the Department of Public Safety and/or law enforcement is recommended.
For more information about sexual misconduct, visit Hofstra's Student Policy Prohibiting Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence & Stalking, Prohibited Bias and Discriminatory Harassment Policy, and Title IX Grievance Policy.
For information about Title IX, a federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on sex, visit the Title IX office.
A Student's Guide to Preventing and Responding to Sexual Violence
Remember that preventing sexual violence is not the responsibility of only one gender. Everyone 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, however it is advised that you act within the first 72 hours.
- Seek counseling. Early intervention helps survivors recover. Student Counseling Services staff is available 24/7, as are off-campus resources.
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. on Friday. Additional group and workshop programs are offered throughout the week after office hours. For further information or to arrange an appointment, call Student Counseling Services at 516-463-6745.
Student Counseling Services is located in the Wellness and Campus Living Center, North Campus, 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 more an act of violence and aggression, and less about sexual needs or attraction. Survivors are never responsible for the assault even if they have been drinking, walking alone, 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 their 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 them 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 survivor might worry about encountering them in a class or on campus. Your friend will value your support as they regain a sense of control and return to everyday activities.
Recognize and accept their feelings
First and foremost, believe your friend! Ask how they're 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 they "ought" to. Your friend 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, they 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, you may seek the counseling services available to you, as well.
Communicate compassion and support
Don't interrogate your friend about what happened, just 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 their 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 they're ready, but don't withdraw physically either. Understand that their responses and desires may be different (for a while) and this is not about you. Be open, receptive, patient, and emotionally available to your partner.
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!