This resource is designed to answer frequently asked questions and link to helpful resources for victims of sexual misconduct, including sexual assault.
1. What should I do if I think I’ve experienced sexual misconduct?
- Make sure you are safe from further harm.
- Call someone you trust, e.g., a friend, Counseling Services, Public Safety (x5555), the Lake Forest police department, a trusted colleague, or your Resident Advisor (for students).
- Sexual misconduct can be extremely difficult to deal with in isolation. There are members of the campus community that are trained to help you and who can act as support resources for you during this difficult time.
- We encourage all victims of sexual misconduct to file a report with Public Safety or with the Chair of the Sexual Misconduct Hearing Board. Learn more about the sexual misconduct investigation and hearing process here.
If you have been sexually assaulted, immediate medical care is very important.
2. Why should I seek medical care?
If you have been sexually assaulted, it is important to seek medical care in order to:
- Be examined and treated for any injuries;
- Be tested and treated for exposure to sexually transmitted infections;
- Discuss ways to reduce the risk of pregnancy; and,
- Collect medical evidence should you decide to report the assault to the police for possible prosecution of the offender.
At most hospitals, a specially trained Sexual Assault Nurse Advocate is available to provide support, information, and advocacy during the physical exam.
3. What do I need to know about going to the hospital?
- If you plan to go to the hospital, don’t bathe or change clothing. Also try not to urinate if possible, as urinating may destroy valuable evidence. If oral contact took place, do not smoke, eat, drink, or brush your teeth.
- If you’ve already changed clothes, place them in a paper bag (plastic destroys evidence) and bring them with you. If you haven’t changed, keep your original clothes on, and bring an extra set to wear home from the hospital. The police may need to keep your clothes for evidence. You don’t have to decide right away whether or not you want to go forward with a prosecution, and that’s okay. If you do decide to pursue legal options later, however, physical evidence will be crucial. Consider having evidence collected now to keep your options open; this does not commit you to prosecution.
- If you think you may have ingested drugs involuntarily, or if you chose to consume alcohol or other drugs, tell the Sexual Assault Nurse Advocate. This is very important information.
4. What should I do if a friend was assaulted?
- Educate yourself about sexual assault and the healing process.
- Listen to and validate any feelings the survivor may be experiencing.
- Listen to and express your own feelings regarding the assault.
- Don’t ignore what happened or try to smooth it over and “make it better.”
- Respect the time and space it takes to heal. Patience and acceptance are essential.
- Ask the survivor what he/she wants and needs and follow through.
Encourage the survivor to seek support, and provide unconditional support for the decisions she/he makes. You can always encourage the survivor to call any of the phone numbers listed above to receive additional support. You, too, might benefit from seeking support resources as you assist your friend.