Recent studies of sexual assault on campuses has indicated that more than 70% of the assaults reported occur in 'dape rape' environments. In other words, most campus rapes are caused by someone the victim knows. The following information is provided as a quick guide to answer questions about sexual assault.
What is Sexual Assault?
Sexual assault is an abuse of power, a crime, and a violation of the University student conduct code. Illinois statute defines sexual assault and sexual abuse as:
Criminal Sexual Assault:
The accused commits criminal sexual assault if he or she:
Criminal Sexual Abuse:
- commits an act of sexual penetration by the use of force or threat of force; or
- commits an act of sexual penetration and the accused knew that the victim was unable to understand the nature of the act or was unable to give knowing consent; or
- commits an act of sexual penetration with a victim who was under 18 years of age when the act was committed and the accused is family member; or
- commits an act of sexual penetration with a victim who was at least 13 years of age but under 18 years of age when the act was committed and the accused was 17 years of age or over and held a position of trust, authority or supervision in relation to the victim.
The accused commits criminal sexual abuse if he or she:
- commits an act of sexual conduct by the use of force or threat of force; or
- commits an act of sexual conduct and the accused knew that the victim was unable to understand the nature of the act or was unable to give knowing consent.
- The accused commits criminal sexual abuse if the accused was under 17 years of age and commits an act of sexual penetration or sexual conduct with a victim who as at least 9 years of age but under 17 years of age when the act was committed.
- The accused commits criminal sexual abuse if he or she commits an act of sexual penetration or sexual conduct with a victim who was at least 13 years of age but under 17 years of age and the accused was less than 5 years older than the victim.
- Family member means a parent, grandparent, or child, whether by whole blood, half-blood or adoption and includes a step-grandparent, step-parent or step-child. 'Family member' also means, where the victim is a child under 18 years of age, an accused who has resided in the household with such child continuously for at least one year.
- Force or threat of force means the use of force or violence, or the threat of force or violence, including but not limited to the following situations:
- when the accused threatens to use force or violence on the victim or on any other person, and the victim under the circumstances reasonably believed that the accused had the ability to execute that threat; or
- when the accused has overcome the victim by use of superior strength or size, physical restraint or physical confinement.
- Sexual conduct means any intentional or knowing touching or fondling by the victim or the accused, either directly or through clothing, of the sex organs, anus or breast of the victim or the accused, or any part of the body of a child under 13 years of age, or any transfer or transmission of semen by the accused upon any part of the clothed or unclothed body of the victim, for the purpose of sexual gratification or arousal of the victim or the accused.
- Sexual penetration means any contact, however slight, between the sex organ or anus of one person by an object, the sex organ, mouth or anus of another person, or any intrusion, however slight, of any part of the body of one person or of any animal or object into the sex organ or anus of another person, including but not limited to cunnilingus, fellatio or anal penetration. Evidence of emission of semen is not required to prove sexual penetration.
What do these statutes mean?
In short, Illinois law states that any sexual contact or sexual penetration, however slight and without consent, may be considered an offense. Further, the law makes no distinction between stranger and acquaintance assaults (including rape). The penalties range from fines and probation, to jail and/or prison time. For complete statutes and definitions, see Illinois Compiled Statutes, Chapter 720, Sections 5/12-12 through 5/12-16.
What is Acquaintance Rape?
Acquaintance rape, also known as date rape, is an act of criminal sexual assault committed by someone the victim knows. Usually, acquaintance rape occurs in dating situations, but it can occur between co-workers, casual friends, general acquaintances, or family members. Acquaintance rape has been found to be involved in 80% of all sexual assaults. In other words, four out of five victims were raped by someone they knew. Date or acquaintance rape is a crime. When there is reason to believe that sexual assault has occurred, the University will pursue disciplinary action, offer support services, and assist with notifying public authorities as desired.
What are the Statistics on Sexual Assault?
Although some differences exist among studies, generally the data suggests the following:
- Over 700,000 women are sexually assaulted each year.
- Approximately 20% of sexual assaults against women are by assailants unknown to the victim. Friends, acquaintances, intimates, and family members commit the remaining 80%.
- Every three minutes, someone is sexually assaulted
- 1 in 4 women are victims of rape
- 82 percent of the victims said that the experience had permanently changed them.
- Sexual assault is reported by 33% to 46% of women who are being physically assaulted by their husbands.
- It is estimated that fewer than 50% of rapes are reported.
- Male victims represent 5% of reported sexual assaults.
- 60% of all rape victims know their assailants.
- 92% of adolescent rape victims know their assailants. Acquaintance rape is particularly common among adolescent victims.
On college campuses:
A survey of 6,159 college students enrolled at 32 institutions in the U.S. found:
- One in eight college women are raped
- 84% of those women knew their assailant
- 57% of those rapes happened on a date
- 90% of rape involving college students is considered acquaintance rape
In a survey of male college students:
- 54% of the women surveyed had been the victims of some form of sexual abuse
- 57% of the assaults occurred on dates
- 73% of the assailants and 55% of the victims had used alcohol or other drugs prior to the assault
- 25% of the men surveyed admitted some degree of sexually aggressive behavior
- 42% of the victims told no one
- 35% anonymously admitted that, under certain circumstances, they would commit rape if they believed they could get away with it
- One in 12 admitted to committing acts that met the legal definitions of rape
- 84% of men who committed rape did not label it as rape
- 43% of college-aged men admitted to using coercive behavior to have sex, including ignoring a woman's protest, using physical aggression, and forcing intercourse
- 15% acknowledged they had committed acquaintance rape, and of these 11% acknowledged using physical restraints to force a woman to have sex.
How to Lower Your Risk of Being Sexually Assaulted
First, consciously think about the fact that your major risk is from someone you already know, somebody you trust, or from someone you may soon meet. How can you use this knowledge to your advantage? Knowing this information in advance gives you the opportunity to plan ahead. Educate yourself on what sexual assault is and when it is most likely to occur. Prepare yourself by taking defensive tactics courses. Conduct yourself in a manner that will keep you safe. Consider the suggestions and tips below.
Tips for women
You cannot always avoid date rape. However, there are some ways to minimize your chances of being sexually assaulted. Here are a few suggestions:
- Have your words and actions communicate the same message. Know your sexual desires and limits well enough to communicate these clearly. Tell your date what you do or do not want and stick with your decision. Do not assume your date eventually will "get the message". Be direct and firm if your date is pressuring you sexually. Use a firm tone of voice and matching body language.
- Be forceful and firm. Do not worry about not being "polite." Often men interpret passivity as permission; they may ignore or misunderstand "nice" or "polite" approaches. You have the right to say something like "Stop this. I'm not enjoying it."
- Do not do anything you do not want to just to avoid a scene or unpleasantness. Women have been socialized to be polite. In an effort to be nice, they may be reluctant to yell, run away or escape being attacked. If you are worried about hurting his feelings, remember, he is ignoring your feelings.
- If things start to get out of hand, be loud in protesting, leave, and go for help. Do not wait for someone else to rescue you or for things to get better. If it feels uncomfortable, leave quickly.
- Trust your gut-level feelings. If you feel you are being pressured, you probably are, and you need to respond. If a situation feels bad, or you start to get nervous about the way your date is acting, confront the person immediately or leave the situation as quickly as possible.
- Be aware that alcohol and drugs are directly related to acquaintance rape. They compromise your ability (and that of your date) to make responsible decisions. Make sure you are around people you know and trust before you start drinking. If you choose to drink alcohol, drink responsibly. Be able to get yourself home and do not rely on others to "take care" of you.
- Avoid falling for such lines as 'You would if you loved me.' If he loves you, he will respect your feelings and will wait until you are ready.
- While walking, try to have a friend with you wherever you go. At night, travel in groups and walk the Brightway Path. Use the Women's transit (453-2212), Saluki Express or call a taxi for transportation.
- Make sure someone knows where you are and whom you are with. Do not study or work alone in deserted or isolated areas. In your car, do not get out if your car breaks down. Lock your doors, sound the horn, and wait for help to arrive.
- While at home, keep your suite and/or room door locked at all times! Use the door viewer to look at who is knocking on the door prior to opening the door. Do not allow someone inside to use your phone. Offer to make the call for them. Or, direct them to a public phone in the lobby or nearby area. Have your keys ready when you return home. Do not enter your home if you find a door or window forced open, go to a neighbor's home and call the Police.
- Be extra cautious...
- about that guy that's so friendly at the dance bar. In fact, he's so nice that he brings you drinks even when you don't ask, and he's been buying drinks for several weeks now. That guy may be setting you up as a future victim by offering a variety of friendly gestures until he feels that you trust him. Once the trust is gained, he spikes your newest drink with a knock-out drug just before he delivers it to you and casually waits either next to you or nearby for it to take effect. Once he sees you becoming drowsy, he 'rescues' you and leads you to safety...his place or some other location where he can sexually assault (and sometimes video or photograph the acts) you. And when you wake up, you can't remember anything, or even how you got where you are. And if your drink buying friend has a really good night, he may just 'loan you out' to another guy that he owes a favor to.
- about allowing that guy you just met at a friend's last night into your room when he suddenly shows up. Be friendly, tell him you are busy and would be willing to meet him in a few minutes (in the lobby, the cafeteria, the student center, etc.). Remember being assertive and in control will discourage misbehavior on his part.
Tips for men...How to avoid being accused of sexual assault.
- Real Men Don't Rape. Real men accept the responsibility to not harm another person.
- Listen carefully to what the other person is saying. Always get permission, regardless of how long you have known or dated someone. Communicate your sexual desires honestly and as early as possible. Talk with your partner about what would be most mutually enjoyable. Tell your date what you do or do not want. Stick with your decision. Have your words and actions communicate the same message.
- If you find yourself in a situation with a woman who is unsure about having sex, is saying "no," or if you have any doubts about what your partner wants: STOP. ASK. CLARIFY. Be cautious about women who are unsure whether they want to have sex. If you put pressure on them, you may be forcing them. If you are getting a double message from a woman, speak up and clarify what she wants. Suggest talking about it. Ask for clarification if you feel you are getting mixed messages. "No" means "No". Do not read in other meanings. Do not continue after you hear "No" Remember, what may take you a couple of minutes to clear up now may take you years to clear up after she decides to accuse you of rape.
- Never assume you know what your partner wants. Do not assume you both want the same degree of intimacy. Do not assume her desire for affection is the same as a desire for intercourse. She may be interested in some sexual contact other than intercourse. There may be several kinds of sexual activity you might mutually agree to share.
- Ask yourself if you are really hearing what she wants. Do not let your desires control your actions. Your desires may be beyond your control, but your actions are within your control. Sexual excitement does not justify forced sex.
- Not having sex or not "scoring" does not mean you are not a "real man." It is OK not to "score." A woman who turns you down for sex is not necessarily rejecting you as a person; she is only expressing her decision not to participate in sexual activity.
- Remember, rape is a crime. It is never OK to force yourself on a woman, no matter what the circumstances are, the use of force is unacceptable. No one asks to be raped. No matter how a woman behaves, she does not deserve to have her body used in ways she does not want. Taking sexual advantage of a person who is mentally or physically incapable of giving consent (for example, drunk) is rape. Having sex with someone who is intoxicated, drugged, passed out, is not in control of herself, or for any other reason incapable of giving informed consent, is committing rape. Rape is a crime of violence. It is motivated primarily by desire to control and dominate, rather than by sex. It is illegal.
- The fact that you were intoxicated is not a legal defense to rape. "But I was drunk," is not a legitimate excuse. You are responsible for your actions, whether you are sober or not.
How to keep yourself safe from sexual assault (for men)
Men can be victims of rape and have the same rights to counseling and legal action as women do.
Statistics show that one to six percent of reported survivors of sexual assault are men, although the rate of reporting sexual assaults on men is even lower than that for women. It is more common for males to be victimized by other men than by women. This is a frightening, painful, emotionally scarring experience for men, as it is for women. The best advice for prevention of sexual assault specific to males is to always be aware of the situation you happen to be in. Also, the tips that are given for women can be applied to men as well.
What to do if Someone Tries to Force Sexual Activity
If someone tries to force you to have sex, here are some things you should do:
- Say "no" strongly and with certainty. Do not worry about being friendly or polite. Who cares what his feelings or urges are? This is your body; protect yourself.
- Use the word "Rape." This sometimes shocks a potential rapist into realizing what he is doing and may stop it.
- Look for an escape route. If you can figure out a way to distract him, you can sometimes escape. Act quickly, if possible. The longer you stay in the situation, the fewer your options.
- Ask yourself if it is safe to resist. This is an important question. Women who quickly fight, scream, claw and gouge have a much better chance than those who beg, plead and cry - because rape often has as much to do with dominance and power as with sex. But resistance depends on one question: is he armed?
If the man is UNARMED, then you have many options, including:
- Fight back physically--punch him in the Adam's apple, poke your finger in his eye, hit him with a lamp or other item, or kick him. Fight so that you can escape, as it is difficult for most women to incapacitate a man. Resistance may discourage the man or convince him that it is too much trouble to continue. Resist only as long as it is safe to do so.
- Intimidation may also work. Lie if you have to; tell him your male roommate is on the way home; tell him you have herpes or VD. Say you have to use the bathroom, and then leave. Say whatever it takes to get out of the situation.
- Try to get him to see you as an individual person. Make him aware of the effect he is having on you. Tell him that he is hurting you.
- Shout "fire." If you shout "help," some people will tend not to want to be involved in someone else's problem. "Fire" concerns them and they are more likely to respond.
- Try passive resistance (throwing up or urinating).
If the man is ARMED with a weapon your options are obviously a lot more limited.
- Try to talk him out of it.
- Try passive resistance. It may be possible to run away if he is distracted. However, only do this if you are reasonably sure you can get away. Do not resist an attacker who displays or threatens to have a gun, knife, or other weapon. Look for the opportunity to escape should it present itself.
How the Effects of Alcohol and Drugs Contribute
Alcohol and drugs are sometimes a significant factor in date rape. After an evening of drinking, the man may become sexually aggressive and perhaps even violent. He may ignore or misinterpret a woman's signals, or take a "no" for a "yes" or a "maybe." A woman's friendly behavior may be seen as an invitation to have sex and he could become angry or forceful, believing that strong persuasion will alter her "no" to "yes."
Many victims say later that they drank too much or took too many drugs to realize what was going on; by the time they realized their predicament, it was too late. Sometimes a woman passes out and awakens to find a man having sex with her. On the other hand, some date rapes occur when alcohol is not involved or when the victim has had little or nothing to drink but the man has been drinking and becomes sexually aggressive. Alcohol clouds judgment and decreases motor skills, which may be crucial in escaping an uncomfortable situation before it gets out of hand.
Avoid excessive use of alcohol and other drugs. Alcohol and other drugs interfere with clear thinking and communication. Consider this: 55% of female students and 75% of male students involved in acquaintance rape had been drinking or using drugs at the time.
Date Rape Drugs
- Date rape drugs are being used to sedate potential rape victims. These drugs are odorless, colorless and tasteless and go by names such as Rohypnol, ruffies, Ketamine, GHB and Forget Pill. These drugs alone or mixed with alcohol can cause people to lose their ability to fight back and remember events. But also realize that non-alcoholic drinks and water can also be drugged. These drugs dissolve quickly and invisibly into liquids and cause rapid and severe intoxication, dramatically reducing inhibitions and inducing memory loss.
- Symptoms of date rape drugs can include feeling overly intoxicated, dizziness, memory loss, nausea or breathing difficulties. If you think you, or a friend, has been drugged-get medical attention IMMEDIATELY. These drugs can be fatal. Most rape victims don't report the rape within twenty-four hours. Some of these drugs can be out of your system in six hours. This makes proving that they were drugged and raped very difficult.
- It just takes a second to slip a drug into your drink. Never leave any drink unattended, even for a few seconds. If you do, lose it and get a fresh one. Do not drink from communal punch bowls, cups, bottles, or cans. Only take drinks from servers or bartenders; do not let another person handle your drink before you drink it. Watch out for your friends; if they start to act unusually intoxicated, dizzy, or nauseous, get them to the emergency room right away.
- Date rape drugs such as Ketamine, GHB and Rohypnol are appearing throughout the area and country.
- Ketamine, also known as Special K, is a fast-acting general anesthetic approved for veterinary uses and can be administered in liquid, tablet or powder form. The effects of the drug usually last for up to an hour, but a person can take 48 hours to fully recover.
- GHB, which is short for gamma-hydroxybutyrate, is mostly administered as a clear liquid and is illegal in the United States. The drug's effects usually last about eight hours and can cause the central nervous system to shut down when mixed with alcohol.
- Rohypnol often is used as a tablet dropped into drinks because it dissolves so quickly. The effects of the drug can begin within 15 minutes and last up to four hours.
Sexual Assault-Acquaintance Rape-Domestic Battery
What's the Difference?
- Criminal Sexual Assault is the act of forcible sexual penetration by one person upon another. Rape, incest, attempted rape and unwanted sexual touching are often called sexual assault.
- Acquaintance Rape is the act of forcible sexual penetration committed by someone the victim knows. Although called acquaintance rape, the actual crime is covered under the criminal sexual assault statutes.
- Domestic Battery is the act of intentionally or knowingly causing bodily harm or making physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature with any family or household member. Domestic Battery can range from simple battery to sexual assault complaints.
Reporting a Sexual Assault
How to report a sexual assault that has occurred to you or someone you know.
- To report a sexual assault that has just occurred to you or someone you know CALL 911.
- Go to the emergency room and report it to the doctor or nurse present.
- To otherwise report a sexual assault call the Department of Public Safety anytime (24 hours a day) at 453-DPS1 (3771).
When to report a sexual assault.
If you are the victim of a sexual assault or know someone who has been the victim of an assault, the best time to report it is IMMEDIATELY. Now is the time to DIAL 911.
While you are hesitating to call, the person who just assaulted you is; a) getting away, b) destroying evidence, c) justifying their actions in their own mind to eliminate guilt, d) creating an alibi, cover story, etc.
Upon notifying the police, police officers will respond to you within a few minutes. These officers will assist with any medical needs you may have, with locating someone to be with you for companionship if wanted, and will be diligent to take care of collecting and preserving evidence should you decide to file charges against the assailant. Other officers will make every attempt to locate and take into custody the person who assaulted you.
If you are unable, for whatever reason, to call the police just after the assault occurred, do not hesitate to call the police whenever you can. This may be minutes, hours, or days later. The police will still investigate the complaint.
Remember, any evidence is crucial in sexual assault cases. If you are able, immediately notify the police and/or get yourself to an emergency room. Tell the staff at the emergency room what has happened so they can help preserve any evidence on you or your clothing. Time is all important if you are the victim of being given a date rape drug; every breath you exhale may be destroying evidence.
What happens when I do report?
The first thing that happens is that you will have a telephone conversation with a Police Telecommunicator. The Telecommunicator will ask you some basic information to determine what has occurred, who is involved, where it occurred and where you are now, and how to recontact you should the phone line get disconnected. After a brief conversation, the Telecommunicator will start dispatching police officers to the call, one or more to your location, and possibly others to canvas the area in an attempt to locate any suspect or witnesses.
A police officer will be sent to meet with you. This police officer will ask you to tell them what happened. Do not hesitate to tell this police officer exactly what occurred. They are trained in sexual assault terminology, and understand the difficulty you may have in trying to put this into words. This police officer will file a police report on your behalf. In almost all cases, the police officer who responds to your call will stay with you throughout the initial reporting phase. After the initial report has been taken, your case will be referred to the Investigations section and will be assigned to a Detective who will work with you.
If the assault has just occurred, the police officer will escort you to the emergency room for a medical exam. This exam is necessary for two reasons: to ensure your health and to attempt to collect any evidence of the crime. Emergency room personnel will use a rape kit to collect this evidence. Once collected, the kit is turned over to the police officer for crime lab analysis. If there is evidence elsewhere to be collected, the police officer will make arrangements to have it collected immediately.
If you desire to have someone with you, you can ask the police officer to help you in contacting a friend, family member, R/A, or a representative from the Rape Crisis Services to come to your location.
If you know your assailant, every attempt will be made to quickly take the person into custody. If you do not know your assailant, other members of the police department will be attempting to locate them while you are giving your information to the police officer.
You may be asked to write a statement as to what occurred. These statements are invaluable later on in the investigation, as you may be able to recall things immediately after the event that you would not remember later on.
When the initial report has been completed, the officer with you will take care to see that you remain with someone that you feel comfortable.
Women and men who have been raped can press criminal and/or civil charges against the person who raped them. In general, date rapes are often difficult to prove. A gun or knife is rarely used and so it is harder for someone to prove that they were forced to have sex. The man's attorney may argue that the woman "wanted" to have sex with his client, did so, and then thought better of it and so charged rape. The person has to prove that they did not want sex, resisted, and was overpowered.
If a woman does press charges, there is a chance that she will be able to stop the rapist from hurting other people since date rapists rarely rape only once.. Pressing charges helps many rape victims regain a sense of control over their lives; they are taking some positive action. Other women press charges to demonstrate that they will not be passive when they are threatened. The decision to press charges is difficult. but important. As more women force their courts and communities to deal with sexual assault, there is an increase in awareness, conviction rates, and the subsequent legal proceedings which may help prevent other sexual assaults.
On the other hand, some women decide not to press charges because they do not want their personal lives and rape experience aired publicly. Some avoid pressing charges because they fear retaliation, although when a rapist threatens to return if he is reported, repeat rapes are uncommon.
In some cases a woman's legal counsel will advise against pressing charges. Factors that make it more difficult are when the victim was raped by either a husband or boyfriend, was hitchhiking, or was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the rape.
A woman may also have the option of suing the individual man who raped her. Laws of evidence are less strict for civil suits, so even if she does not file a criminal suit, or if she loses a criminal suit, it is still possible in some instances to collect damages. Some victims have filed suit against an institution or fraternity (if the rape took place at a fraternity function). If the perpetrator is a minor, the victim may be able to sue his parents. A woman should discuss these options with a knowledgeable attorney. Again, since date rape is so difficult to prove, a woman might spend a great deal of money in attorney's fees and still lose the case.
Additionally, in some colleges and universities, it is possible to file a charge against a student who has violated the institution's rules. A woman can choose to file charges in her institution regardless of what she does in relation to criminal and civil charges. In some instances, the rapist has been suspended from school.
What You Can Do if You Have Been Sexually Assaulted
All rape is traumatic but there is something particularly traumatic about a woman being raped by someone she knows and previously had liked and trusted. Remember- what has happened to you is NOT your fault.
- Go to a friend that you trust. This is not the time to be alone. Talking with someone will give you the caring support you need and help you understand the options available to you. At the very least, you need emotional support. If there is no one to go to, then call someone you can talk to, no matter how late it is. You can always call the Sexual Assault Hotline at 529-2324 or 1-800-334-2094.
- Seek medical attention as soon as possible. Do not shower or attempt to clean yourself first. As soon as possible, go to a hospital or school health center to be examined. You may have internal injuries that you are not aware of; so the sooner you get medical attention, the better. Physical specimens collected soon after the rape will be valuable evidence - even if you later decide not to press charges. Also, get treated for possible venereal disease and consider birth control options.
- Report the attack to police and university or college officials. (Reporting a rape does not commit you to filing charges. You can make that decision later.) Have someone go with you. You can go the next day, but the sooner the better. Rarely do date rapists attack one woman only; they get away with it and so they continue to do it. If you turn him in, you may break that pattern and save someone else from being attacked.
- Consider whether you want to file charges with the police and/or with the campus authorities if the man is a student. If you do decide to press charges, the chances of conviction with acquaintance rape are low, although police, judges, and schools are increasingly more sympathetic than in the past. Some states now have rape shield laws, so that the past sexual behavior of a woman cannot be brought up.
- Get help and support, such as counseling. Trauma, such as fear of being alone, fear of men, or sexual problems may be side effects of rape. Counseling is recommended to help you deal with any trauma you may experience; at the very least, we suggest you call the rape crisis hotline in your school or community. Your school counseling center, student health center, or local sexual assault center also may be of help. You have been through a trauma and need help to deal with the situation and with your feelings. Women who get counseling get over their experiences faster and with fewer lasting effects than those who do not get any help.
- The most important thing to remember is not to blame yourself. The rape was not your fault. Your behavior did not cause it; the rapist caused the rape. Do not give the rapist the satisfaction of ruining your life. Your life is not ruined. Pick up the pieces, get well, and carry on. You owe it to yourself. Many people assume that the man is expected to ask for sex and the woman is responsible for giving permission for sex. Thus the woman may feel it is her fault for not having said "no" more clearly or for having trusted the man in the first place. If you find that you are being blamed for what happened, it is helpful to go to a counseling center, a rape crisis center, or call a hotline. You need to be reassured that you are not to blame; the rapist is. Even if you believe you were naive, not cautious, or even foolish, it is still not your fault. Your behavior did not cause the rape; the rapist caused the rape.
Family and Friends: How You Can Help
After a rape, survivors may be openly upset, even hysterical, or they may be numb and seemingly calm. The victim needs to:
- Obtain medical assistance.
- Feel safe. Rape is a traumatic violation of a person. Especially in the beginning, it is often difficult for victims to be alone.
- Be believed. With date rape especially, victims need to be believed that what occurred was, in fact, a rape.
- Know it was not their fault. Most rape victims feel guilty and feel that the attack was somehow their fault.
- Take control of their life. When a person is raped, they may feel completely out of control of what is happening to them. A significant step on the road to recovery is to regain a sense of control.
Things you can do to help
- Listen; do not judge. It is not your place to play prosecutor and make her prove her story. Accept her version of the facts and be supportive. You may have to deal with your feelings separately if you feel that it was somehow her fault. Many rape counseling services can be helpful to friends and relatives of women who have been victims.
- Offer shelter. If it is at all possible, stay with her at her place or let her at least spend one night at your place. This is not the time for her to be alone.
- Be attainable. She may need to talk at odd hours, or a great deal at the beginning. She may not have a lot of people she can talk to and she may over rely on one person. Be there as much as you can and encourage her to either call a hotline or go for counseling.
- Give comfort. She has been badly treated. She needs to be nurtured.
- Let her know she is not to blame. This is crucial. Many rape victims blame themselves. She needs to be reassured that the rapist is to blame, that she is not.
- Be patient and understanding. Everyone has her own timetable for recovering from a rape. Do not impose one on the victim. Pay attention to her actions afterward. Depression often occurs and other problems can result, such as substance abuse, suicide, and other health problems.
- Encourage action--for example, suggest she call a hotline, go to a hospital or health center, and/or call the police. Respect her decision if she decides not to file charges.
- Do not be overly protective; encourage her to make her own decisions. She needs to feel in control of her life and this will not be possible if you do everything for her.
- Accept her choice of solution to the rape--even if you disagree with what she is doing. It is more important that she make her own decisions and have them respected than it is for you to impose what you think is the "right" decision.
- Put aside your feelings, and deal with them somewhere else. Although it is supportive for a rape survivor to know that others are equally upset with what happened, it is difficult to deal with your feelings of rage and anger, as well as her own. If you have strong feelings, talk to another friend or to a local hotline.
Assistance On Campus and In Carbondale
Assistance for Victims
If you are the victim of a sexual assault, the Illinois Attorney General's Office offers a comprehensive victim assistance program. In addition, a victim's advocate is available through the Carbondale Police Department and the Jackson County State's Attorney's Office. The advocates can help you navigate the often-confusing criminal justice process and help you to connect with University and community services for the medical or emotional needs. To find out more about these services, call the Department of Public Safety or check out our resource page.
University Policy Concerning Sexual Harassment
If you receive harassing, obscene, or anonymous e-mail:
- Save the message.
- Report it immediately to the SIUC Police.
- Do not give your password out to anyone.
- Do not let anyone else use your account. Do not forget to log out.
- For more information, or any questions, call SIUC Information Technology at 453-6280 or the SIUC Police.
If you receive a harassing phone call:
Once you realize the nature of the call, gently hang up the phone. Do not engage the caller in conversation, try to find out who is calling, or give any information to the caller. If the incidents occur repeatedly, keep a log of the time and date the calls occur, what the caller says, and a description of the caller's voice.
- Report the incident to the SIUC Police
- If you receive continuing threatening or obscene phone calls, call the Verizon Nuisance Call Bureau at 1-800-257-2969.