What are reporting options for college students?
There are two unrelated systems for reporting campus sexual assault: local law enforcement and the school administration. Reporting a sexual assault to a school and reporting the crime to the police involve two unrelated investigations that can have two different distinct results.
What should you expect if you take steps to file a report with law enforcement?
Typically, victims would speak to the police department nearest to where the incident occurred. A victim can call or go to the police to file a report, a process that includes providing a statement of facts from the victim’s perspective. They will then be asked to review their written statement, and then sign it for accuracy. If something is not right, please be sure to tell the police officer so that they can change it. It is very important to do this, even if you feel nervous about doing it, as it could affect the investigation.
Who do you report to on campus?
Procedures may vary from campus to campus, but typically the victim will give a statement to a Title IX Coordinator or Deputy Coordinator. Your school’s website is required to have who your Title IX Coordinator is available.
What should you expect if you take steps to report to your school’s administration?
The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights guides schools to respond to reports in a prompt and timely manner, typically investigating and holding any hearing within 60 days (outside of appeals, accounting for any breaks in the academic calendar, and following the victim’s wishes if possible). The individual school may have staff or external investigators review statements, medical records, and interview witnesses prior to writing an investigation report and/or conducting a hearing. Appeals may be heard by another hearing panel or an institutional leader.
Victims are encouraged to medical attention immediately following a sexual assault, ideally within 96 hours in order to preserve evidence and ensure that preventive treatments are most likely to be effective.
What can you reasonably expect when you get to the hospital?
If a hospital has a Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner (SAFE) or Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) program, the nurse on call will be notified of the need for a sexual assault evidence collection kit or rape kit. Police only need to be notified if the perpetrator used a weapon or when it involves a minor. If the victim does not want the kit going to law enforcement, the hospital is required to hold the kit for 30 days. After 30 days, the hospital has the right to destroy the kit. Please note that these exams can take several hours, and various restrictions, such as not changing clothes, bathing, or using the restroom, may be placed on victims in order to preserve evidence.
What is a rape kit, and why is it used?
A rape kit is a Sexual Assault Evidence Collection Kit, which allows a medical professional to examine a victim for injuries consistent with the crimes of rape and sexual assault, as well as to retrieve specimens (hair, skin cells, bodily fluids, etc.) to identify the victim and perpetrator. Since this experience can be difficult following a sexual assault, and is a process for legal evidence collection, the examiner will not leave the victim once the exam has begun. The kit can be handed over directly to law enforcement as part of a pending investigation of the crime.
Rape kits are used in criminal prosecutions, but not necessarily in university hearings. Because the central issue in most (though not all) campus sexual assaults is consent, such exams may not be necessary. However, collecting evidence with a rape kit may permit victims to pursue multiple options in the future.
What if the victim does not want the Sexual Assault Evidence Collection kit, but wants medical attention?
Victims can also seek medical attention without pursuing a sexual assault evidence collection kit, to check for internal or external injuries, as well as to prevent pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections. This can also be done in settings other than a hospital, such as at a community clinic or campus health center.
What is a SAFE/SANE hospital program?
SAFE/SANE hospital programs employ specially trained health care practitioners who understand both the physical and emotional aspects of examining a recent victim of sexual assault, as well as how to best collect and preserve physical evidence.
Is this available everywhere?
Unfortunately, they are not available at every hospital. In situations where a SAFE/SANE program does not exist, typically a nurse along with an emergency room physician or another mid-level practitioner collects the kit.
Who accompanies a victim to the hospital and does this person get to stay with the victim at all times?
Victims can determine who accompanies them to the hospital. Typically, they will be asked if they would like one person to stay with them during the exam, though this may vary from location to location. The support person should do his or her best not to interfere with the exam, but rather remain a support for the victim.
What can you ask for at the hospital?
Victims can request an advocate, a male or female examiner, emergency contraception, sexually transmitted infection prophylaxis, and/or a toxicology report. The toxicology report is not a standard element of a rape kit, but should be requested if a victim believes he or she was drugged in order to facilitate the rape or sexual assault (In NYS, this would be a drug-facilitated kit). Victims can also opt out of any step of the exam with which they are not comfortable, with the understanding that potentially less physical evidence will be recovered.
What options are available to victims if there isn’t a hospital nearby?
Victims may seek medical attention at a community clinic or campus health center, though typically a Sexual Assault Evidence Collection Kits will not be available at such locations. Additionally, states and institutions may offer compensation for travel to seek medical attention. If eligible, NYS OVS may be able to assist with medical bills and counseling expenses.
SARC’s community and professional education programs aim to decrease the occurrence of sexual violence by increasing understanding of the problem. SARC provides education and outreach programming free of charge to schools, businesses, and organizations with the goal of preventing sexual violence. Informational and educational presentation topics available through SARC span the sexual violence spectrum and are focused on prevention efforts. These programs can be designed to fit the needs of any audience for people age 12 and up. Examples of the types of programing SARC offers include, but are not limited to:
- Healthy Relationships
- Media Literacy
- Intimate Partner Violence
- Dating Violence Prevention
- College Campus Sexual Assault Awareness & Prevention
- Bystander Intervention
- Gender Stereotypes
- Rape Culture