Get help. For information about confidential resources that can help with safety, reporting options, and other issues after an incident, see Reporting & Confidentiality below.
Safety is the first priority. If the individual needs immediate medical attention, call 911. For nonemergency medical attention, contact Student Health Services at x3536, or seek medical attention at Mission Hospital (828-213-1111) as soon as possible. If possible, avoid bathing or brushing teeth, and preserve clothing and other evidence in a paper (not plastic) bag. The hospital employs a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (S.A.N.E.) nurse who can document injuries, collect evidence (which may be important for future prosecution options), and help the individual with other medical issues such as STD prevention.
See the Resources list below for others who can help offer assistance with arranging for medical (and other) needs after an incident.
What Should I Do If I Am Sexually Assaulted?
- Find a safe environment – anywhere away from the perpetrator. Ask a trusted friend or RA to stay with you for moral support.
- Preserve evidence of the attack – don’t bathe or brush your teeth. Put underwear in a paper (not plastic) bag. Write down all the details you can recall about the incident and the perpetrator. Call Student Services staff (including RDs and/or police), college counselor or nurse, the Our Voice hotline, or National Hotline for help. View resources and staff contacts.
- Get medical attention. Even with no physical injuries, it is important to determine the risks of STDs and pregnancy.
- To preserve forensic evidence, ask the hospital to conduct a rape kit exam. If you suspect that you may have been drugged, ask that a urine sample be collected.
- Report the rape to law enforcement authorities. A counselor (or other resources) can provide the information you’ll need to understand the process.
- Recognize that healing from sexual assault takes time. Give yourself the time you need.
- Know that it’s never too late to call. Even if the attack happened years ago, it’s okay to seek help. Many survivors do not realize they need help until months or years later.
How to Help a Friend Who’s Been Sexually Assaulted
- Listen. Be there. Don’t be judgmental.
- Let your friend know you’re willing to listen, but don’t press for details. Let your friend decide how much s/he feels comfortable saying. Be supportive without overreacting.
- Believe your friend.
- Make it clear that your friend wasn’t guilty in any way for being sexually assaulted. Don’t make comments about what might have been done to prevent the assault. Educate yourself about consent so that you can be helpful to a friend who is self-blaming.
- Remember that some sexual assault victims don’t want to be touched (hugged, patted, etc.)
- Be patient. Remember that it will probably take your friend some time to deal with the assault. *Help your friend make decisions if asked (who to tell, whether to report it to the police, where to stay, etc.) without trying to make the decisions for her or him.
- Let your friend know that help is available through Our Voice, and the Montreat College Counseling Center (information listed below). Encourage your friend to seek help, but realize that only your friend can make the decision to get help. Resist the urge to “take charge” or avenge the crime—inadvertently taking decisions away from the survivor can be re-victimizing, making her/him feel even less in control than after the assault.
- You can also seek help and resources to learn how to support your friend (see below). * Encourage your friend to consider reporting the assault to law enforcement authorities. A counselor or student services staff can provide the information your friend will need to make this decision.
- Protect your friend’s privacy. Don’t reveal the story to other people.
- An important note about consent: You may want to remind your friend that the absence of “No” is not the equivalent of “Yes.” Consent must be clear, informed, and freely and actively given to be considered valid. A “Yes” from an intoxicated (or otherwise impaired) person is legally considered the equivalent of “No.”
- Another way to be a friend: intervene ahead of time. If you see someone who is vulnerable (ex. intoxicated, alone, in an uncomfortable or intimidating situation, and/or being pursued by a “shady” character), or if you see assault or harassment in progress, speak up and enlist help.
Campus Reporting & Confidentiality
Whether or not you choose to report incidents to local police, you have the option of reporting incidents to the College. Here’s some information about college reporting options.
Confidential resources trained to assist in sexual assault (or other sexual violation) response include the Counselor (x3538), Nurse (x3536), Chaplain (x3537) or local rape crisis center Our Voice (828-252-0562). After regular daytime office hours, the Counselor, Nurse and Chaplain can be contacted through Student Services staff (including Residence Directors and Campus Police), and Our Voice can be reached on their Crisis Line, (828) 255-7576.
Reporting Officials include Campus Police [(828)-713-2520], Dean of Students/VP for Student Affairs (x3636), and the Title IX Coordinator (x3710). These resources are also trained to assist students after sexual violation situations. Reporting to these individuals constitutes an official report to the college, in which case these officials are required to follow up on the report in a formal fashion (including investigation & possibly disciplinary procedures, and implementing interim safety measures). All requests for interim measures should be made to the Dean of Students, who will facilitate their implementation.
If you decide not to file a disciplinary charge or participate in an investigation, the college still has a responsibility under federal law to investigate the incident to the best of its ability, in order to understand the situation around the incident and prevent further harassment to others on campus or similar incidents in the future.
Other College Employees can assist individuals with connecting to appropriate resources including information, counseling, medical assistance, and reporting options.
It is important to note that the federal Clery Act requires that “Campus Security Authorities” (CSAs) must report sexual violation offenses to a Reporting Official for data collection purposes. CSAs include administrators, staff, and faculty who have significant responsibility for student and campus activities, such as student services and residence life staff (including student resident assistants), the Athletic Director and coaches, faculty and staff advisors to student organizations, supervisors for work-study students, the president, trustees of the college, and administrators of branch campuses. In most cases, the complainant may remain anonymous, if he/she so chooses.
All campus employees have a “duty to warn” requirement to report if an incident represents a substantial threat to other students or community members. Efforts will be made to preserve as much privacy as legally and ethically possible.