Sexual Assault and Violence Prevention Resources
Samuel Merritt University is committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of its entire community, including responding to issues of sexual violence.
Samuel Merritt University is committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of its entire community, including responding to issues of sexual violence.
These resources aim to promote comprehensive prevention, education, advocacy, and response guidelines related to issues of sexual violence—including sexual assault, rape, domestic violence, relationship abuse, and stalking crimes, as well as to help build coordinated community awareness and response to these efforts.
We recognize that by coming together we are better able to provide compassionate and supportive treatment of survivors, their friends, and significant others, hold perpetrators accountable, foster collaborative relationships between campus and community systems, and create a culture where violence is not tolerated. We hope that you will engage in this dialogue with us to help further our collective understanding of these issues and work toward effective and compassionate solutions.
Samuel Merritt University holds that sexual violence has no place in the academic environment and the University will not tolerate it. Additionally, under CA State and Federal laws, sexual violence (inclusive of, but not limited to: sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, dating violence, domestic violence, stalking and sexual assault of employees or students) is illegal. Samuel Merritt University seeks to eliminate sexual violence through education and by encouraging faculty, staff, and students to report concerns or complaints. The University takes the matter of sexual violence very seriously; indeed, the University and individual employees and/or students may be legally liable for acts of sexual violence. Therefore, any acts of sexual violence should be reported immediately to the Executive Director of Human Resources (Title IX Coordinator). After a thorough investigation, anyone found to have violated this policy will be subject to disciplinary action—up to and including dismissal/discharge from the University. See the SMU Sexual Violence Policy and Reporting Page for more information.
Definition of Sexual Misconduct
Sexual misconduct includes a range of behaviors used to obtain sexual contact against a person's will. Sexual misconduct is defined as sexual contact without consent by someone you know or a stranger and includes: intentional touching without consent, either of the victim or when the victim is forced to touch, directly or through clothing, another person's genitals, breast, groin, thighs or buttocks; rape (sexual intercourse without consent whether by someone you know or stranger); attempted rape; sodomy (oral or anal intercourse) without consent; or sexual penetration with an object without consent.
State law defines various violent and/or non-consensual sexual acts as crimes. Additionally, Samuel Merritt University has defined categories of sexual misconduct, as stated below, for which action under this policy may be imposed. Generally speaking, the University considers Non-Consensual Sexual Intercourse violations to be the most serious, and therefore typically imposes the most severe sanctions, including suspension or expulsion for students and termination for employees. However, the University reserves the right to impose any level of sanction, ranging from a reprimand up to and including suspension or expulsion/termination, for any act of sexual misconduct or other gender-based offenses, including intimate partner or relationship (dating and/or domestic) violence, non-consensual sexual contact and stalking based on the facts and circumstances of the particular complaint. Acts of sexual misconduct may be committed by any person upon any other person, regardless of the sex, gender, sexual orientation and/or gender identity of those involved.
3. Non-Consensual Sexual Contact. Defined as:
4. Sexual Exploitation
Sexual Exploitation refers to a situation in which a person takes non-consensual or abusive sexual advantage of another, and situations in which the conduct does not fall within the definitions of Sexual Harassment, Non-Consensual Sexual Intercourse or Non-Consensual Sexual Contact. Examples of sexual exploitation include, but are not limited to:
Definition of Sexual Harassment
SMU Policy defines sexual harrassment as follows:
1. The prohibition applies to all staff employees and students, and in particular to supervisors (including direct supervisory and other management staff). A sexual advance violates this policy regardless of whether the advance is expressly related to the affected employee’s/student’s employment/academic status. It is improper to make sexual advances, ask for, demand or seek by subtle pressure sexual favors or activity from an employee/student, or to subject another employee/student to verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature where:
2. It is improper for an employee/student to make sexual advances or to offer or suggest sexual favors or activity in exchange or in consideration for any personnel/academic action.
3. It is improper to retaliate against an employee/student for refusing a sexual advance or for refusing a request, demand or pressure for sexual favors or activity or to retaliate against an employee/student who has reported an incident of possible sexual harassment to the University or to any government agency.
4. It is not possible to identify each and every act which constitutes or may constitute sexual harassment. However, certain conduct is clearly improper and is strictly prohibited. Persons engaging in this conduct, or other similar acts, will be subject to discipline up to and including dismissal from the University. Such acts might include:
a. Any unwanted, intentional touching of an employee/student by another may be sexual harassment and is prohibited. Due to the possibility of misinterpretation of acts by other employees/students, the University discourages all roughhousing or physical contact, except that contact necessary and incidental to an employee’s job/student’s academic status. Further, certain kinds of physical conduct in the work/academic environment are particularly inappropriate and may be grounds for immediate discipline, including dismissal from the University. That conduct includes, but is not limited to:
b. Sexual advances, unwelcome requests, demands, or subtle pressure for sexual favors or activity, lewd comments and sexual innuendoes are also prohibited. This conduct includes, but is not limited to:
c. Sexually suggestive gestures are also prohibited.
d. It is improper to subject employees/students to photographs, cartoons, articles, or other written or pictorial materials of a sexual nature after the employee/student has expressed his/her/hir displeasure with such activity. These materials may be offensive to the public as well and should not be on display in offices or public areas in any event.
e. This policy is not intended to prohibit employees/students from asking other employees/students for social engagements. However, repeated requests where prior social invitations have been refused can be interpreted as sexual harassment. Employees/students should refrain from persistent invitations after an employee/student has indicated that such invitations are unwelcome.
Definition of Dating Violence
The term “dating violence” means violence committed by a person: Who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim; and where the existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on a consideration of the following factors: the length of the relationship; the type of relationship; and the frequency of the interaction between the persons involved in the relationship. See examples of dating abuse/violence here
Definition of Domestic Violence
The term ‘‘domestic violence’’ includes felony or misdemeanor crimes of violence committed by a current or former spouse of the victim, by a person with whom the victim shares a child in common, by a person who is cohabitating with or has cohabitated with the victim as a spouse, by a person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction receiving grant monies, or by any other person against an adult or youth victim who is protected from that person’s acts under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction.
Definition of Stalking
The term ‘‘stalking’’ means engaging in a course of conduct, regardless of the medium used, that is directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to— (A) fear for his/her/hir safety or the safety of others; or (B) suffer substantial emotional distress.
Like other forms of sexual violence, stalking is a crime of power and control. Stalking is conservatively defined as "a course of conduct directed at a specific person that involves repeated (two or more occasions) visual or physical proximity, nonconsensual communication, or verbal, written, or implied threats, or a combination thereof, that would cause a reasonable person fear." (National Institute of Justice). Stalking behaviors also may include persistent patterns of leaving or sending the victim unwanted items or presents that may range from seemingly romantic to bizarre, following or laying in wait for the victim, damaging or threatening to damage the victim's property, defaming the victim's character, or harassing the victim via the Internet by posting personal information or spreading rumors about the victim. For more info see Stalking Internet Resources below and Here
Definition of Sexual Assault
The term sexual assault refers to sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the victim. Some forms of sexual assault include:
What is Rape?
Rape is a form of sexual assault, but not all sexual assault is rape. The term rape is often used as a legal definition to specifically include sexual penetration without consent. For its Uniform Crime Reports, the FBI defines rape as “penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”
It is important to note that force doesn’t always refer to physical pressure. Perpetrators may use emotional coercion, psychological force, or manipulation to coerce a victim into non-consensual sex. Some perpetrators will use threats to force a victim to comply, such as threatening to hurt the victim or their family or other intimidation tactics.
The conduct described in this policy is strictly prohibited. If anyone, including non-employees/non-students, engages in such conduct, it is important that the conduct be reported to the Executive Director of Human Resources. It is not possible for the University to enforce this policy if incidents of harassment are not reported. The procedure to follow if the student feels that they have been subjected to sexual harassment/sexual misconduct is set forth in this Catalog/Handbook.
Samuel Merritt University Policy Uses an “Affirmative Consent” Standard
(A) The Responding Party’s belief in affirmative consent arose from the intoxication or recklessness of the accused.
(B) The Responding Party did not take reasonable steps, in the circumstances known to the accused at the time, to ascertain whether the Reporting Party affirmatively consented.
Consent can not be given by a minor. In California, a minor (meaning a person under the age of 18 years) cannot consent to sexual activity. This means that sexual contact by an adult with a person younger than 18 years old is a crime, as well as a violation of this policy, even if the minor wanted to engage in the act.
The state definition of consent can be found here. These penal codes are applicable to criminal prosecutions for sex offenses in California but may differ from the definition used by Samuel Merritt University to address policy violations.
The basic principle of consent is that every person has a right to personal sovereignty—that every person has the right not to be acted upon by someone else in a sexual way unless he or she gives clear permission to do so. Healthy sexual relations should be consensual and fun and consent means that two people (or more) decide together to do the same thing, at the same time, in the same way, with each other. Any sexual act that is initiated upon a person without their consent is against the law and is a violation of SMU Sexual Violence Policy.
Consent is based on choice.
Consent is active not passive.
Consent is possible only when there is equal power.
Giving in because of fear is not consent.
Going along with something because of fear is not consent.
Going along with something because of wanting to fit in with the group,
being deceived or feeling bad is not consent.
If you cannot say no comfortably then yes has no meaning.
If you are unwilling to accept a no then yes has no meaning.
~ Source Unknown
Elements of Consent
C = Comprehension that the act is taking place
O = Optional for both parties
N = Negotiation with partner
S = Sobriety – must have knowledge of the nature of the act
E = Engagement in the act willingly
N = Nonviolent
T = Talking about it/ communication – silence does not equal consent
Consent can only be given when intimate partners have equal power in determining the level of sexual intimacy that will or will not occur in their sexual encounters. Consent is never the mere absence of a “no.” It is never implied. Consent only emerges when there is a clear “yes” about what type of sexual intimacy is wanted by both intimate partners. And that agreement must be made without fear, threat, deceit or coercion. By establishing consent, one respects the other person's sexual boundaries or preference to limit types of sexual involvement.
Consent Cannot Be Given If
There are many verbal and nonverbal ways to communicate no. It is important for both partners to know how to read and understand the signs when someone is uncomfortable, scared, and expressing their desire to stop either verbally or nonverbally. Remember: Just because a person didn't say 'no' and/or didn't fight back, does not mean that the incident was consensual. Fear may prevent a victim from saying no and/or from fighting back. Being unconscious means you can't say no or fight back. Being conscious but incapacitated by alcohol or drugs may also mean that saying no and fighting back is not a possibility.
"No" means "No"
“Stop” means "No"
"I’m not ready” means "No"
"Not now" means "No"
"Maybe later" means "No"
Pushing you away means "No"
Screaming means "No"
"I have a boy/girlfriend" means "No"
"No thanks" means "No"
"You're not my type" means "No"
"*#^+ off!" means "No"
"I'd rather be alone right now" means "No"
"Don't touch me" means "No"
"I really like you but ..." means "No"
"Let's just go to sleep" means "No"
"I don’t feel like it" means "No"
"You've/I've been drinking" means "No"
Crying means "No"
Turning away means "No"
Lying there, not participating means "No"
Five "nos" and then a "yes" (from exhaustion, coercion, giving in) means "No"
Passed out means "No"
Silence means "No"
Date rape = not understanding "No"
Flirting, Kissing, Touching Doesn't Always Need to Lead to Sex
There are different types of intimacy, like holding hands, writing love notes, kissing, hugging, massage, and actually having sex. Different people will be willing to go to different types and try different things. You might enjoy kissing, touching, but not feel ready to have sex. Or you might have had sex before with a partner, and not feel like it every time you get together. Kissing and getting intimate does not need to lead to sex. That’s why it’s important to communicate how you are feeling every time you engage in intimate or sexual activity. It is really important that you and the person you’re with is comfortable with what’s happening. Everyone has the right to say “no” and everyone has the right to change their mind at any time regardless of their past experiences with other people or the person they are with.
Recognizing Non-Verbal Communication
There are many ways of communicating. The look on someone’s face and their body language is also a way of communicating and often has more meaning than the words that come out of their mouth. Here are some ways body language can let you know if the person you’re with is not comfortable with what is happening:
Asking questions and being aware of body language helps you to figure out if the person you’re with is consenting and feeling comfortable, or not consenting and feeling uncomfortable. If you get a negative or non-committal answer to any of these questions, or if your partner’s body language is like any of the above examples, then you should stop what you are doing and talk to them about it.
Perks of Consent
How Do You Know if the Person You're With Has Given Their Consent?
The only way to know for sure if someone has given consent is if they tell you. It’s not always easy to let people know that you are not happy about something. Sometimes the person you’re with might look like they are happy doing something, but inside they are not. They might not know what to say or how to tell you that they are uncomfortable. One of the best ways to determine if someone is uncomfortable with any situation, especially with a sexual one, is to simply ask. Talking with one another while engaged in sex can be sexy and intimate. It is the responsibility of both intimate partners to clearly give consent for each sexual act, and for each time the sexual encounter occurs. And asking for consent is not difficult, just ASK. Here are some suggestions:
Are you ok with this?
Do you want to continue?
Can I ___ you? (kiss, touch, take your shirt off, etc.)
How are you feeling?
Do you like this?
Is there anything you don't want to do?
Tell me to stop if you are uncomfortable.
And having “hooked-up” previously and had a satisfying sexual experience does not automatically mean a follow-up sexual encounter is acceptable. Mutual consent is again expected and necessary.
What if the Person You're With is Too Out of it to Give Consent?
Drugs and alcohol can affect people’s ability to make decisions, including whether or not they want to be sexual with someone else. This means that if someone is really out of it, they cannot give consent. Being with them in a sexual way when they don’t know what is going on is the same as rape.
If you see a friend who is out of it and is being intimate with someone, you should pull them aside and try your best to make sure that person is safe and knows what he or she is doing. If it’s the opposite situation, and your friend is trying to engage in a sexual encounter with someone who is out if it, you should try to pull them aside and stop them from getting themselves into trouble.
Slowing Things Down SLOWING THINGS DOWN
Taking your time, making sure you are both comfortable, and talking about how far you want to go will make the time you spend together a lot more satisfying and enjoyable for both of you. Sometimes things move very quickly. Below are some things you can say to slow things down if you feel that things are moving too quickly.
You always have the right to say “no” and you always have the right to change your mind at any time regardless of your past experiences with other people or the person you are with. Below are some things you can say or do if you want to stop:
Adapted from: Vassar College SAVP and Cabrillo College
Many people believe that sexual assault is only committed by men against women. The majority of sexual assaults are perpetrated by men, but the fact is that 1 out of every 10 men is sexually assaulted at some point in their lifetime. Because our society fails to see that men can be sexually assaulted, men often have a difficult time accepting their own victimization and delay seeking help and support. This page offers information about the sexual assault of men, talks about the barriers male survivors often face and offers a list of resources male survivors can contact to connect with a counselor or others who have been sexually assaulted.
Understanding Sexual Assault of Men
Sexual assault is any unwanted sexual contact. It can be committed by the use of threats or force or when someone takes advantage of circumstances that render a person incapable of giving consent, such as intoxication. Sexual assault of men can include unwanted touching, fondling, or groping of a male's body including the penis, scrotum or buttocks, even through his clothes. Rape of a man is any kind of sexual assault that involves forced oral or anal sex, including any amount of penetration of the anus or mouth with a body part or any other object.
Many people don't take sexual assault of men seriously. This is one of the reasons why men have a difficult time reporting what happened and why the rates of male sexual assault are thought to be significantly underreported. If a male survivor's friends think that male sexual assault is a joke, he will feel isolated and afraid to tell anyone. Sexual assault is a painful, traumatic experience for any victim.
Who can be a perpetrator of male sexual assault?
Anyone, regardless of gender or gender identity, can sexually assault a man. However, most sexual assaults against men are committed by other men, who actually identify themselves as heterosexual. It's important not to jump to the conclusion that man-against-man sexual assault only happens between men who are gay. Sexual assault is not about sexual desire or sexual orientation; it's about violence, control, and humiliation.
What are some of the feelings a male survivor may experience?
There are common feelings and effects that any survivor of sexual assault may experience, but male survivors may experience these feelings in a different way:
Additional Issues That May be Experienced by Men
Where to Go For Help
See the "What to Do If You Are Sexually Assaulted" pages in the left hand side box on this page to learn more about on and off-campus resources available to you.
Adapted From: UC Berkeley and Brown University
Survivors who identify as Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender or Queer/Questioning (GLBTQ) can face not only the barriers to seeking help that all survivors face but also a range of obstacles that are unique to the GLBTQ community. As with opposite-sex assault, same-sex assault includes forced vaginal or anal penetration, forced oral sex, or other forced sexual activity. Similar to heterosexual sexual assaults, GLBTQ assaults may also occur to anyone regardless of class, gender identity, race, or culture and can be perpetrated by strangers, acquaintances and/or within the context of an otherwise consensual relationship.
GLBTQ survivors experience the same effects and emotional reactions, and are in need of the same support and intervention services as opposite-sex assault survivors. However, there are also unique factors and special needs to consider for GLTBQ survivors, such as stigma, discrimination, societal homophobia, stereotypes about the gay community, and barriers to service.
Gay or Bisexual Men
Research is limited, but there is evidence that the rate of sexual assault upon this community is very high. It is often part of a hate crime with a high degree of violence that may cause serious injury. Here are some resources for further information:
How to Support a GLBTQ Survivor
Supporting a GLBTQ survivor is similar to helping any survivor; however, here are some things to consider:
Common Myths About GLBTQ Survivors
Myth: A woman can’t rape another woman.
Reality: While the majority of perpetrators of sexual assault are male, the idea that woman-on-woman sexual assault does not occur is a product of gender role stereotypes that encourage the idea that women are never violent. This stereotype can make it less likely that women who were sexually assaulted by another woman will be believed by those around her. It can also make a survivor who has believed that women are nonviolent feel disillusioned that she has experienced violence from a woman.
Myth: Gay men are sexually promiscuous and are always ready for sex.
Reality: Men who identify as gay, like all people, have the right to say no to sex at any time and have that respected. Because of the stereotypes that many people have about gay men’s sexual availability, it may be more difficult for a gay man to convince others that he was assaulted.
Myth: Bisexuals are kinky anyway, and sexual assault for them is just rough sex that got out of hand.
Reality: Bisexuality reflects a sexual orientation, not sexual practices. Bisexuals, like heterosexuals, practice a wide range of sexual behaviors, and, for bisexuals, like for heterosexuals, rough sex and a sexual assault are two very different things. Because of stereotypes about bisexuals, they, too, may have difficulty being believed about a sexual assault.
Myth: When a woman claims domestic abuse by another woman, it is just a catfight. Similarly, when a man claims domestic abuse by another man, it is just two men fighting.
Reality: Unfortunately, domestic abuse and violence occurs in all types of intimate relationships, and people in same gender relationships may be dealing with this. The myth that people of the same gender are "just fighting" both denies the reality of domestic violence as well as reinforcing that some types of violence are acceptable.
As with all cases of sexual assault, these myths can only be dispelled when they are replaced by truth. This requires that members of the GLBTQ community and heterosexual allies speak out and acknowledge sexual assault and domestic violence within the GLBTQ community, in order to both prevent future assaults and to provide competent and compassionate care to survivors.
Adapted from the University of Michigan Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center and the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Program
Some of the most common reactions that survivors experience following an assault are self-blame and guilt, that they “must” have done something to bring on this assault. Survivors often ruminate on thoughts such as, "Why did I get in the car with him?", "Why did I go to that party?", "Why did I get so drunk?" This is deeply erroneous and dangerous thinking. The bottom line is that we would not have been raped had our rapist chosen not to rape us. The fault lies solely with the perpetrator – no matter your dress, actions, level of intoxication or behavior before the assault. The buck stops with the perpetrator – always.
But Wait ... I Made Some Bad Decisions
Yes, we make hundreds of choices each day. Some are clearly good and some are perhaps not the best. We are human. The difference between a bad choice and a crime is when someone intervenes and takes advantage of our decision. For example, everyone has probably done something such as left your car running while you hopped out to grab the mail, left your front door unlocked while you ran down the street to a neighbor’s house, or put your purse down by your chair in a busy café. We could all say “oh my gosh, what was I thinking, that was so stupid of me, I should’ve known better”, but we would not fail to see that if someone broke in to our house or stole our car or purse that this was a crime and that the criminal was the one truly at fault. We also most likely would not hesitate for a second to call the police or report the crime.
So why is it so different for sexual assault victims? There are many reasons that survivors turn to self-blame, including:
The bottom line is the survivor is NEVER responsible for the crime of sexual assault. Never!
Men and women have the right to dress as they wish, to walk alone at night, to flirt, to be sexy, to dance provocatively, to drink, to make out, and to say “no” or “stop” at any time. Drinking unsafely and walking alone at night likely do make a person more vulnerable, most survivors would agree with that. But no one has the right to rape us, ever, no matter what we say or do. Were there choices you could have made that would have protected you? Of course. We also can spend our entire lives never leaving the house. The fact is rape will not stop happening until rapists stop raping. No one has the right to perpetrate abuse against another. No one had the right to rape you!
Fortunately, the tide may slowly be changing. In the past sexual assault awareness, campaigns have targeted potential victims by urging women to restrict their behavior. Research is telling us that targeting the behavior of victims is not only ineffective but also contributes to and increases self-blame in survivors. Awareness campaigns have begun in the past decade to start shifting this focus away from victim-blaming and placing the responsibility and blame on the correct person - the perpetrator. Other campaigns are looking at utilizing Men as Allies in sexual assault prevention work and encouraging Bystander Interventions.
While changing attitudes about sexual assault and victim-blaming will take time, one immediate step we can all take is to learn all we can and start talking about sexual violence, harassment, and consent with those around us to help educate and reduce stigma.
Some things you can do to help
What to Do Immediately (first 24-72 hours)
City, Local and National Sexual Assault 24 Hour Crisis Center and Support Services
Oakland Bay Area Women Against Rape(BAWAR)
SF Peninsula YWCA of Silicon Valley Rape Crisis Center
Hotline: 408-287-3000 or 650-493-7273
Sacramento Women Escaping A Violent Environment (WEAVE)
866-920-2952 Toll Free
*Counselors can connect you with other centers in your area
4. Get medical attention.
Again, the first 24-72 hours are extremely important. Even if you have no apparent injuries after the assault, it is still a good idea to seek medical care. While seeking medical care and discussing your assault might be difficult, is an important way for you to start taking care of yourself. You can decide what medical care you want or don't want. At the very minimum, you should be seen and treated for physical injuries and discuss the risks of STDs. Women can also discuss risks of pregnancy resulting from the assault and obtain any preventative measures available if desired.
SART Exams: Sexual assault survivors are strongly encouraged to obtain a specialized sexual assault exam by a trained SART professional. SART stands for Sexual Assault Response Team and is the term used to describe an evidentiary medical exam. The SART exam does two things: it provides sensitive and thorough medical care and collects evidence that may be helpful to the prosecution of your case. Whether or not you decide to go forward with the prosecution of the assailant, it is critical for any forensic evidence to be collected within 72 hours of the assault. Even if you choose not to proceed with pressing charges or an investigation, having this evidence collected and held can help ensure you have evidence should you ever change your mind in the future. Click here to read more about evidence collection and SART exams.
Note: Not all hospitals offer SART exams. Contact your local Sexual Assault Crisis Center (see chart with hotlines above) to find a hospital near you that offers these services.
Even if the assault happened days, weeks, or months ago it is still a good idea to seek medical care. This can be done on campus at the SMU Health & Counseling Center, through your general practitioner, or at local clinics and hospitals.
5. Write down as much as you can remember about the circumstances of the assault, including location, time, witnesses, events, a description of the assailant, etc. Keep any other evidence that you have connected with the event or assailant including things such as text messages, photos, phone calls, voicemails, etc.
6. Get information whenever you have questions or concerns. After a sexual assault, you have a lot of choices and decisions to make - e.g., about getting medical care, making a police report, and telling other people. You may have concerns about the impact of the assault and the reactions of friends and family members. You can get information by calling a rape crisis center, a hotline, or other victim assistance agencies.
7. Consider reporting the assault to police and university officials, whether or not you plan to file charges. Sadly, only 1 of 10 women ever reports their rape. The number of men who report is even smaller. There are many reasons why this number is so low. Survivors may…
Rarely do rapists attack one person only; they get away with it and so they continue to do it. The decision to report is totally up to you. For many survivors having their number counted, at least, is an important step in regaining the power they lost. You can discuss your situation with any of the resources listed here before you make a decision. There are many options to explore; the most important thing is to choose the path that is most comfortable and productive towards your recovery. Remember -- reporting a rape does not commit you to filing charges!
Reporting is best done as soon as possible after the assault, but it may be done at any time. Students can choose to make reports to City Police, University officials, or both. If you are unsure if you want to report, we encourage you to speak with a counselor at one of the Sexual Assault Hotlines (above) or at the SMU Health & Counseling Center. These counselors can help answer questions about the reporting process and assist in helping you make the best decision for you and all discussions are confidential.
The University encourages victims to report incidents of sexual assault. There are several reasons for this, including supporting the victim’s recovery, community safety, and accurate reporting of crime statistics. The University will assist students who report sexual assault in obtaining medical support and information regarding available legal and judicial resources as well as counseling and support services. The Office of Enrollment and Student Services oversees the Student Conduct Code and can take action against student behavior that violates any section of the code, including sexual assault. If you decide to go this route, make an appointment regarding “student misconduct” with an Assistant Vice President of Enrollment and Student Services at 510-869-6627. See also How To Report A Sexual Assault
Reporting an assault to the Police or other law enforcement authority does not require filing criminal charges, but it does allow all support systems to be put in place for the survivor. Filing a police report will provide the opportunity for collection of evidence helpful in prosecution and will allow the student to be connected with the appropriate support and medical resources. You can find your local police department here. Click here to learn more about reporting sexual assault to the police.
What to Do Over the Next Few Days and Weeks
1. Make space for healing. You have been through a trauma and need to make space for your own emotional, physical, psychological and spiritual healing. You may be overwhelmed by many different emotions - fear, grief, guilt, shame, rage. It is important to seek support. There are many different options, such as talking with a counselor at the Health & Counseling Center, seeking support through community organizations, joining a survivors group, or talking with a friend. People who receive counseling tend to recover from their experiences faster and with fewer lasting effects than those who get no help. Recovery from rape doesn't mean that it's as if the rape never happened. Recovery does mean that, over time, the survivor is not thinking about the rape-their emotions are not dominated by it. The survivor is able to envision a future, to set goals and work to achieve them. Their life moves forward.
Counseling On Campus:
SMU Health & Counseling Center - Oakland Campus
Open Monday - Friday between 8:00 - 5:00pm
Students at the San Francisco Peninsula and Sacramento campuses can access mental health services either on the Oakland campus or through the Sutter Employee Assistance Program (EAP) which will connect you with a provider in the community. Through EAP students will also receive up to 10 sessions per calendar year, free of charge. Please contact (800) 477-2258 to learn more about Sutter EAP.
Counseling Off Campus:
See these resources for information about finding an off-campus mental health provider
2. Do not blame yourself. Be compassionate with yourself. You need to be assured that you are not to blame for the rape. Even if your body responded sexually to the rapist, it does not mean you "enjoyed" the experience or that it is your fault. Even if you believe you were naïve, not cautious, or even foolish, it is not your fault. Your behavior did not cause the rape; the rapist caused the rape.
How to Report a Sexual Assault
We hope you will decide to report your attack to the police. While there’s no way to change what happened to you, you can seek justice and help stop it from happening to someone else. Click here to read more about reporting sexual assualt to the police.
Reporting On Campus
Resolution Process for complaints of Harassment, Sexual Misconduct, and other forms of Discrimination
Samuel Merritt University will act on any formal or informal report or notice of violation of the policy on Equal Opportunity, Harassment and Nondiscrimination that is received by the Title IX Coordinator or any member of the administration.
The procedures described below will apply to all resolutions involving students, staff or faculty members with the exception that unionized or other categorized employees will be subject to the terms of their respective collective bargaining agreements/employees’ rights to the extent those agreements do not conflict with federal or state compliance obligations. Redress and requests for responsive actions for reports made about non-members of the community are also covered by these procedures.
1. Filing a Complaint
Any member of the community, guest or visitor who believes that the policy on Equal Opportunity, Harassment and Nondiscrimination has been violated should contact the Title IX Coordinator. It is also possible for employees to notify a supervisor, or for students to notify an administrator or faculty member, or any member of the community may contact the Assistant Vice President for Enrollment and Student Services. These individuals will in turn notify the Title IX Coordinator. The University website also includes a reporting form at [online form link] which may serve to initiate a resolution.
All employees receiving reports of a potential violation of University policy are expected to promptly contact the Title IX Coordinator or designee, within 24 hours of becoming aware of a report or incident. All initial contacts will be treated with the maximum possible privacy. In all cases, University will give consideration to the reporting party with respect to how the resolution is pursued, but reserves the right, when necessary to protect the community, to investigate and pursue a resolution when the reporting party chooses not to initiate or participate in a formal resolution.
3. Resolution Intake
Normally within two business days of receipt of notice or a report, the Title IX Coordinator (or designee) will make an initial determination as to whether a policy violation may have occurred and/or whether conflict resolution might be appropriate. If the report does not appear to allege a policy violation or if conflict resolution is desired by the reporting party, and appears appropriate given the nature of the alleged behavior, then the report does not proceed to investigation.
A full investigation will necessarily be pursued if there is evidence of a pattern of misconduct or a perceived threat of further harm to the community or any of its members. University aims to complete all investigations within a 60 calendar day time period, which can be extended as necessary for appropriate cause by the Title IX Coordinator with notice to the parties.
The University’s resolution will not typically be altered or precluded on the grounds that civil or criminal charges involving the same incident have been filed or that charges have been dismissed or reduced. However, the University may undertake a short delay (several days to weeks) in its investigation or resolution process, to comply with a law enforcement request for cooperation (e.g.: to allow for criminal evidence collection) when criminal charges on the basis of the same behaviors that invoke this process are being investigated. The University will promptly resume its investigation and processes once notified by law enforcement that the initial evidence collection process is complete.
All parties are entitled to an advisor of their choosing to guide and accompany them throughout the resolution process. The advisor may be a friend, mentor, family member, attorney or any other supporter a party chooses to advise them. The parties may choose advisors from inside or outside the campus community.
The parties may be accompanied by their advisor in all meetings and interviews at which the party is entitled to be present, including intake and interviews. Advisors should help their advisees prepare for each meeting, and are expected to advise ethically, with integrity and in good faith. The University cannot guarantee equal advisory rights, meaning that if one party selects an advisor who is an attorney, but the other party does not, or cannot afford an attorney, the University is not obligated to provide one. Additionally, responding parties may wish to contact organizations such as:
Reporting parties may wish to contact organizations such as:
The Victim Rights Law Center (http://www.victimrights.org), or the
The National Center for Victims of Crime (http://www.victimsofcrime.org), which maintains the Crime Victim’s Bar Association.
All advisors are subject to the same campus rules, whether they are attorneys or not. Advisors may not address campus officials in a meeting or interview unless invited to. Advisors may confer quietly with their advisees as necessary, as long as they do not disrupt the process. For longer or more involved discussions, the parties and their advisors should ask for breaks or step out of meetings to allow for private conversation. Advisors will typically be given an opportunity to meet in advance of any interview or meeting with the administrative officials conducting that interview or meeting. This pre-meeting will allow advisors to clarify any questions they may have, and allows the University an opportunity to clarify the role the advisor is expected to take.
Advisors are expected to refrain from interference with the University investigation and resolution. Any advisor who steps out of their role in any meeting under the campus resolution process will be warned once and only once. If the advisor continues to disrupt or otherwise fails to respect the limits of the advisor role, the advisor will be asked to leave the meeting. When an advisor is removed from a meeting, that meeting will typically continue without the advisor present. Subsequently, the Title IX Coordinator will determine whether the advisor may be reinstated, may be replaced by a different advisor, or whether the party will forfeit the right to an advisor for the remainder of the process.
The University expects that the parties will wish to share documentation related to the allegations with their advisors. The University provides a consent form that authorizes such sharing. The parties must complete this form before the University is able to share records with an advisor. Advisors are expected to maintain the privacy of the records shared with them. These records may not be shared with 3rd parties, disclosed publicly, or used for purposes not explicitly authorized by the University. The University may seek to restrict the role of any advisor who does not respect the sensitive nature of the process or who fails to abide by the University’s privacy expectations.
The University expects an advisor to adjust their schedule to allow them to attend University meetings when scheduled. The University does not typically change scheduled meetings to accommodate an advisor’s inability to attend. The University will, however, make provisions to allow an advisor who cannot attend in person to attend a meeting by telephone, video and/or virtual meeting technologies as may be convenient and available.
A party may elect to change advisors during the process, and is not locked into using the same advisor throughout.
If reporting party wishes to pursue a formal resolution or if University, based on the alleged policy violation, wishes to pursue a formal resolution, then the Title IX Coordinator appoints a trained investigator(s) to conduct the investigation, usually within two business days of determining that a resolution should proceed. Investigations are completed expeditiously, normally within 10 business days of notice to the Title IX Coordinator. Investigations may take longer when initial reports fail to provide direct first-hand information. The University may undertake a short delay (to allow evidence collection) when criminal charges on the basis of the same behaviors that invoke this process are being investigated. The University’s resolution will not be altered or precluded on the grounds that civil or criminal charges involving the same incident have been filed or that charges have been dismissed or reduced. All investigations will be thorough, reliable and impartial, prompt and fair and will entail interviews with all relevant parties and witnesses, obtaining available evidence and identifying sources of expert information, if necessary. At any point during the investigation, if it is determined there is no reasonable cause to believe that University policy has been violated, the Title IX Coordinator has authority to terminate the investigation and end resolution proceedings.
Witnesses are expected to cooperate with and participate in the University’s investigation. Witnesses may provide written statements in lieu of interviews during the investigation and may be interviewed remotely by phone, Skype (or similar technology), if they cannot be interviewed in person.
5. Interim Remedies
If, in the judgment of the Title IX Coordinator, the safety or well-being of any member(s) of the campus community may be jeopardized by the presence on-campus of the responding party or the ongoing activity of a student organization whose behavior is in question, the Title IX Coordinator may provide interim remedies intended to address the short-term effects of harassment, discrimination and/or retaliation, i.e., to redress harm to the reporting party and the community and to prevent further violations. These remedies may include referral to Student Health and Counseling (SHAC) or to the Employee Assistance Program, education to the community, altering the housing situation of the responding party or resident employee (or the reporting party, if desired), altering work arrangements for employees, providing campus escorts, implementing contact limitations between the parties, offering adjustments to academic deadlines, course schedules, etc.
The University may interim suspend a student, employee or organization pending the completion of investigation and procedures. In all cases in which an interim suspension is imposed, the student, employee or student organization will be given the opportunity to meet with the Title IX Coordinator prior to such suspension being imposed, or as soon thereafter as reasonably possible, to show cause why the suspension should not be implemented. The Title IX Coordinator has sole discretion to implement or stay an interim suspension under the policy on Equal Opportunity, Harassment and Nondiscrimination, and to determine its conditions and duration. Violation of an interim suspension under this policy will be grounds for expulsion or termination.
During an interim suspension or administrative leave, a student or employee may be denied access to the University campus/facilities/events. As determined by the Title IX Coordinator this restriction includes classes and/or all other University activities or privileges for which the student or employee might otherwise be eligible. At the discretion of the Title IX Coordinator alternative coursework or work options may be pursued to ensure as minimal an impact as possible on the responding party.
6. Resolution of Reported Misconduct
During or upon the completion of investigation, the Title IX Coordinator will review the investigation, which may include meeting with the investigators. Based on that review, the Title IX Coordinator will make a decision on whether there is reasonable cause to proceed with the resolution process.
If there is reasonable cause, the Title IX Coordinator will direct the investigation to continue and the allegation will be resolved through one of three processes discussed briefly here and in greater detail below:
Conflict Resolution – typically used for less serious offenses and only when both parties agree to conflict resolution
Administrative Resolution – resolution by a trained administrator
The process followed is dictated by the preference of the parties. Conflict Resolution will only occur if selected by both parties, otherwise the Administrative Resolution Process applies. If, following a review of the investigation, the Title IX Coordinator decides by the preponderance of evidence that no policy violation has occurred, the process will end unless the reporting party requests that the Title IX Coordinator makes an extraordinary determination to re-open the investigation or to forward the matter for administrative resolution. This decision lies in the sole discretion of the Title IX Coordinator.
a. Conflict Resolution
Conflict resolution is often used for less serious, yet inappropriate, behaviors and is encouraged as an alternative to the formal investigation process to resolve conflicts. The Title IX Coordinator will determine if conflict resolution is appropriate, based on the willingness of the parties, the nature of the conduct at issue and the susceptibility of the conduct to conflict resolution. In a conflict resolution meeting, designated administrator(s) will facilitate a dialogue with the parties to an effective resolution, if possible. Sanctions are not possible as the result of a conflict resolution process, though the parties may agree to appropriate remedies. The Title IX Coordinator will keep records of any resolution that is reached, and failure to abide by the resolution can result in appropriate responsive actions.
Conflict resolution will not be the primary resolution mechanism used to address reports of sexual misconduct or violent behavior of any kind or in other cases of serious violations of policy, though it may be made available after the formal process is completed should the parties and the Title IX Coordinator believe that it could be beneficial. It is not necessary to pursue conflict resolution first in order to make a formal report and anyone participating in conflict resolution can stop that process at any time and request an administrative resolution.
Both parties will be notified of the outcome of Conflict Resolution, without undue delay between the notifications. Notification will be made in writing and may be delivered by one or more of the following methods: in person; mailed to the local or permanent address of the parties as indicated in official University records; or emailed to the parties’ University-issued email account. Once mailed, emailed and/or received in-person, notice will be presumptively delivered.
b. Administrative Resolution
Administrative Resolution can be pursued for any behavior that falls within the policy on Equal Opportunity, Harassment and Nondiscrimination, at any time during the process. The Title IX Coordinator will provide written notification to any member of University community who the responding party to an allegation of harassment, discrimination, or retaliation. Prior to meeting with University investigators, the parties will be provided with a written description of the alleged violation(s), a description of the applicable procedures and a statement of the potential sanctions/responsive actions that could result. This notice will include the time, date and location of the interview and a reminder that attendance is mandatory, superseding all other campus activities. If the responding party does not appear at the scheduled meeting, the meeting will be held in their absence.
The Administrative Resolution process consists of a prompt, thorough and impartial investigation, a finding on each of the alleged policy violations, and sanctions for findings of responsibility. Once the investigation described above is complete, the Title IX Coordinator will meet with the responding party to review the findings and the investigation report. The responding party may bring an advisor of their choosing to the meeting. The responding party may elect not to attend or participate, but the Administrative Resolution will proceed regardless.
During the meeting, the Title IX Coordinator reviews the investigation report with the responding party and will render a finding utilizing the preponderance of the evidence standard, based on the information provided by the investigation. The Title IX Coordinator in consultation as appropriate will also determine appropriate sanctions or remedial actions.
The Title IX Coordinator will prepare a written report detailing the finding, the information supporting that finding and any information excluded from consideration and why. This report typically does not exceed two pages in length.
The Title IX Coordinator will inform the responding party and the reporting party of the final determination in writing within 3 business days of the Administrative Resolution. The final determination letter, incorporating the report described above, will be made in writing and will be delivered either:
Where the responding party is found not responsible for the alleged violation(s), the investigation will be closed. Where a violation is found, the University will act to end the discrimination, prevent its recurrence, and remedy its effects on the victim and the university community. In cases involving sexual misconduct, sexual harassment, stalking and/or intimate partner violence, the written notification includes the finding, any resulting responsive actions, and the rationale for the decision. This written notification of final decision is delivered to the parties without undue delay between the notifications, and is considered a final determination. No appeal is provided.
Factors considered when determining a sanction/responsive action may include:
i. Student Sanctions
The following are the usual sanctions that may be imposed upon students or organizations singly or in combination:
ii. Employee Discipline
Responsive actions for an employee who has engaged in harassment, discrimination and/or retaliation include warning, required counseling, demotion, suspension with pay, suspension without pay and termination.
f. Withdrawal or Resignation While Charges Pending
Students: Should a student decide to leave and not participate in the investigation and/or hearing, the process will nonetheless proceed in the student’s absence to a reasonable resolution and that student will not be permitted to return to the University unless all sanctions have been satisfied.
Employees: Should an employee resign while charges are pending, the records of the Title IX Coordinator will reflect that status, as will University responses to any future inquiries regarding employment references for that individual. The Title IX Coordinator will act to promptly and effectively remedy the effects of the conduct upon the reporting party and the community.
h. Failure to Complete Sanctions/Comply with Discipline
All responding parties are expected to comply with conduct sanctions/discipline/corrective actions within the time frame specified by the Title IX Coordinator. Failure to follow through on conduct sanctions/discipline/corrective actions by the date specified, whether by refusal, neglect or any other reason, may result in additional sanctions/discipline/corrective actions and/or suspension, expulsion and/or termination from University and may be noted on a student’s official transcript. A suspension will only be lifted when compliance is achieved to the satisfaction of the Title IX Coordinator.
In implementing this policy, records of all allegations, investigations, and resolutions will be kept by the Title IX Coordinator.
j. Statement of the Rights of the Parties
Statement of the Reporting Party’s rights:
Statement of the Responding Party’s rights:
The rights of the responding party should also be prominently indicated. These should include, among others particular to your university:
The University has a compelling obligation to address allegations and suspected instances of discrimination, harassment, and misconduct, including sexual violence. The following procedures are designed to allow for prompt and equitable resolution of sexual violence complaints. The Title IX Coordinator (Executive Director of Human Resources) is responsible for investigating all complaints of sexual violence. The University will take immediate steps to prevent reoccurrence of any sexual violence and to correct its discriminatory effects on the complainant and others, if appropriate.
The person should let the offending person know immediately and firmly that he/she/ze is rejecting the advance or invitation and/or finds the conduct offensive. The person should report the matter to the Title IX Coordinator (Executive Director of Human Resources) or to the Title IX Investigator (Assistant Vice President of Enrollment and Student Services). The Title IX Coordinator will assign a Title IX Investigator to conduct a complete investigation. It is important that the person report everything to the investigator so a thorough investigation can be made, including providing witnesses and/or documentation from individuals who have first-hand knowledge of the situation.
Those who participate in the investigation of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking, either as a complainant or a third-party witness, will not be subject to disciplinary sanctions for violations of the University’s code of conduct at or near the time of the incident if the violations did not place the health or safety of any other person at risk.
The person has the right to file a criminal complaint with the appropriate local police department. The University can assist the person with this process.
To the extent possible, the complaint and investigation will remain confidential. If a complainant insists that his/her name or other identifiable information not be disclosed to the accused, the University’s ability to respond to the complaint may be limited.
Retaliation is prohibited. The University will take steps to prevent retaliation and also strong responsive action if it occurs. If the person feels that a retaliatory action has been taken because he/she/ze has filed a complaint, that action should be reported as well.
The Title IX Investigator will investigate the matter promptly, thoroughly, and impartially. The University will not delay conducting its own investigation because of a pending criminal complaint as the University has a responsibility to protect the person in their educational setting.
During the investigation, both parties will have an opportunity to present witnesses and other evidence.
Both the accused and the complainant may have an advisor/advocate of his/her/hir choice present for their portion of the procedures. The complainant and/or the accused student is responsible for presenting his/her/hir own information, and therefore, advisors are not permitted to speak or to participate directly in any meeting or complaint procedure. The standard of proof to be used shall be the preponderance of evidence standard (“more likely than not”).
Appropriate sanctions/discipline up to and including termination or dismissal from the University will be imposed if warranted. Any incidents of further harassment or retaliation should be reported immediately to the Title IX Coordinator (Executive Director of Human Resources).
Both parties will be informed of the outcome of the complaint in writing. Both parties can grieve the final decision of the Title IX Investigator by requesting a review in writing to the Title IX Coordinator (Executive Director of Human Resources) within five (5) working days of the decision.
The decision of the Title IX Coordinator (Executive Director of Human Resources) is final.
Samuel Merritt University Title IX Coordinator
Interim Director of Human Resources
Samuel Merritt University
3100 Telegraph Avenue
Oakland, CA 94609
510-879-9200 X 7339
Campus Sex Offenses
Students, faculty, and staff are required to report sex offenses to the Assistant Vice President of Enrollment and Student Services. As required by the Higher Education Amendments of 1992, the University provides an annual report of campus crime statistics, including all sex offenses. See Campus Security Act of 1990 in the Federal and State Regulatory Policies section.
Sexual violence incident reporting and Title IX reporting
Title IX Coordinator
Craig Elliott, Ph.D.
Deputy Title IX Coordinator
Assistant Vice President Enrollment
& Student Services
Student Health Services
Confidential medical services
Angelina Leong Chau, DNP, FNP-C.
Director of Health & Counseling
Nina Lavorini, FNP-C, FNP-BC
Family Nurse Practitioner
Student Counseling Services
Confidential counseling and
mental health services
Jeanne Zeamba, Psy.D. &
Anglyn Sasser, Psy.D.
Oakland Campus: Ext. 5555 on campus; 510.869.5555
SF Peninsula Campus: None on-site; Call 911
Sacramento Campus: 916.486.5800 (4-10pm); 916.870.1073 (after hours)
Sexual Assault 24 Hour Crisis Center & Support Services
Bay Area Women Against Rape(BAWAR)
YWCA of Silicon Valley Rape Crisis Center
Hotline: 408-287-3000 or 650-493-7273
Women Escaping A Violent Environment (WEAVE)
866-920-2952 Toll Free
San Francisco Women Against Rape
Hotline Phone: 415-647-RAPE (7273)
Business Phone: 415-861-2024
Trauma Recovery Center / Rape Treatment Center
Business Phone: 415-437-3000
*Counselors can connect you with other centers in your area."
See an additional list of Bay Area Rape Crisis Centers Here
And a comprehensive Bay Area Referral Guide here
City Police Departments
Oakland City Police
250 Frank H Ogawa Plaza
Emergency (using landline) 9-1-1
Emergency (using cell phone) (510) 777-3211
Non-Emergency (510) 777-3333
OPD Sexual Assault Tip Line (510) 637-0298
San Mateo City Police
200 Franklin Parkway
San Mateo, CA 94403
Non-Emergency Police Assistance: (650) 522-7700
General Information and Records: (650) 522-7710
5770 Freeport Blvd, Suite 100
Sacramento, CA 95822
Emergencies- Crimes in Progress 9-1-1 or 916-732-0100
Click here to find other City Police Departments
Other Bay Area Resources
Emergency Medical Care
*including SART exams
1411 E. 31st Street, Oakland
Sexual Assault Hotline: (510) 534-9290
Emergency: (510) 437-4557
Survivor Advocacy: women of all sexual orientations
333 Valencia St. Suite 450, San Francisco
Survivor Advocacy: gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender people
CUAV (Community United Against Violence)
427 South Van Ness Ave., San Francisco
(415) 333-4357 safety line
Survivor Advocacy: under-represented communities
Asian Pacific Island Legal Outreach
Legal advocacy, cultural and linguistic support for API families dealing with domestic violence.
Asian Women’s Shelter
Shelter program, language advocacy program, crisis line, case management, and programs in support of underserved communities such as queer Asian survivors and trafficked survivors.
La Clínica de la Raza
East Bay-based assessment and safety planning services for domestic violence and child abuse, support groups, treatment groups, violence evaluations and referral services.
Advocacy, support, information, and referrals for survivors of domestic violence in the South Asian community- Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and diasporic communities.
Native American Health Center
Medical and family services in Oakland and San Francisco, groups in San Francisco for Native American families dealing with abuse.
Referrals for shelter, legal services, counseling, interpretations, citizenship/legal residency for Korean-community survivors of domestic violence and their families.
Help Line (510) 547-2360 Monday-Friday: 9:30am - 5:30pm
Sexual assault is a crisis, and we all handle crises in different ways. Though each person and situation is unique, the following list summarizes the range of reactions to sexual assault that may help you know what is normal to expect. Some express their emotions while others prefer to keep their feelings inside. Some may tell others right away what happened, others will wait weeks, months, or even years before discussing the assault, if they ever choose to do so. It is important to respect each person’s choices and style of coping with this traumatic event. Whether an assault was completed or attempted, and regardless of whether it happened recently or many years ago, it may impact one's emotional state and daily funcitoning. Some common emotional, psychological and physical reactions follow.
Short Term (Acute) Effects
Immediately following an incident (days to weeks), many survivors report feeling:
Other related issues that may emerge are eating disorders, sexual difficulties, physical changes, substance abuse, self-harm, suicidality, anger, and mood disorders such as depression and post-traumatic stress.
It is important for you to know that any of the above reactions are normal and temporary reactions to an abnormal event. The fear and confusion will lessen with time, but the trauma may disrupt your life for a while. Some reactions may be triggered by people, places or things connected to the assault, while other reactions may seem to come from "out of the blue." Remember that no matter how much difficulty you're having to deal with the assault, it does not mean you're "going crazy" or becoming "mentally ill." The recovery process may actually help you develop strengths, insights, and abilities that you never had (or never knew you had) before.
Talking about the assault will help you feel better, but may also be really hard to do. In fact, it's common to want to avoid conversations and situations that may remind you of the assault. You may have a sense of wanting to "get on with life" and "let the past be the past." This is a normal part of the recovery process and may last for weeks or months. Eventually, you will need to deal with fears and feelings in order to heal and regain a sense of control over your life. Talking with someone who can listen in understanding and affirming ways, whether it's a friend, family member, hotline staff member or counselor, is a key part of this process.
Long Term Effects
What to Do?
Make space for healing. You have been through a trauma and need to make space for your own emotional, physical, psychological and spiritual healing. You may be overwhelmed by many different emotions - fear, grief, guilt, shame, rage. It is important to seek support. There are many different options, such as talking with a counselor at the Health & Counseling Center, seeking support through community organizations, joining a survivors group, or talking with a friend. People who receive counseling tend to recover from their experiences faster and with fewer lasting effects than those who get no help. Recovery from rape doesn't mean that it's as if the rape never happened. Recovery does mean that, over time, the survivor is not thinking about the rape-their emotions are not dominated by it. The survivor is able to envision a future, to set goals and work to achieve them. Their life moves forward.
Counseling On Campus:
SMU Health & Counseling Center - Oakland Campus
Open Monday - Friday between 8:00 - 5:00pm
Students at the SAN FRANCISCO PENINSULA and SACRAMENTO learning centers can access mental health services either on the Oakland campus or through the Sutter Employee Assistance Program (EAP) which will connect you with a provider in the community. Through EAP students will also receive up to 10 sessions per calendar year, free of charge. Please contact (800) 477-2258 to learn more about Sutter EAP.
Counseling Off Campus:
See these resources for information about finding an off-campus mental health provider
Do not blame yourself. Be compassionate with yourself. You need to be assured that you are not to blame for the rape. Even if your body responded sexually to the rapist, it does not mean you "enjoyed" the experience or that it is your fault. Even if you believe you were naïve, not cautious, or even foolish, it is not your fault. Your behavior did not cause the rape; the rapist caused the rape.
Learn all you can about sexual assault and its effects. Here are a few resources for more information
R.A.I.N.N. Comprehensive Guide
Impact of Sexual Violence Fact Sheet
Rape Trauma Syndrome
If someone has told you that they have been sexually assaulted, it’s likely to have been one of the hardest things they have ever had to tell you. It may have taken them weeks or even years to feel able to talk to anyone about what has happened. Respect the huge step they've taken and the trust they have put in you.
Most people have little experience of helping someone through a traumatic event such as a sexual assault, so it’s normal to feel unsure of what to do. What is important is that you care enough about that person to want to help.
Sexual violence affects not only the survivor of the violence but also those close to her/him—friends, family members, co-workers. If someone you know has been sexually assaulted, you may experience many of the same emotions as the victim. What your friend or loved one needs most right now is your love, support, and understanding.
1. Express care and concern.
Let your friend know right away that you believe them, care and want to help. Three of the most important and basic messages that sexual assault survivors most need to hear from you are:
I believe you.
The assault was not your fault.
Help is available. You are not alone.
Listen to your friend without judging them. The survivor likely came to you because they consider you to be a person of they can trust. Remember to reassure them and validate their feelings. Tell them that you believe them and reinforce that they are not to blame for what happened.
2. Believe the survivor.
Make it clear to the survivor you believe the assault happened and that the assault is not her/his fault. Do not ask “why” questions which may make the survivor defensive, such as “Why were you wearing that?” and “Why were you alone?”
3. Give them the time and space that they need.
Let the survivor tell you how they feel. Try to resist asking them about the details of the experience as they might not feel ready, and therefore may feel pressured. Don’t take it personally if your friend doesn’t want to talk to you or to talk right now. Part of being a good listener is letting them know that you’ll be ready to listen if and when they are ready to talk.
Remember, it takes courage to talk about sexual assault with other people. Many survivors remain silent because they feel ashamed and/or they fear that they will be disbelieved or blamed if they tell other people about what happened to them. Allow the survivor to cry, scream, and express themselves however they need to at that moment. Remember, the survivor is angry with the assailant and the situation, not at you. Just be there to listen.
4. Let them know that they do not have to go through this alone.
Crisis intervention counselors, as well as other mental health professionals, are available in the community 24/7. Reassure the survivor that they are cared for. Ask them if you can help them contact your local Rape Crisis Center’s 24-hour hotline and trained professionals can help you access local medical attention, resources available, and support you both in the many questions you may have. These professionals are INVALUABLE! Do not hesitate to contact them, even for a "consultation".
Bay Area and National Rape Crisis Hotline Centers
Bay Area Women Against Rape (BAWAR)
24/7 Hotline: 510-845-7273
Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Center of Yolo County
24/7 Hotline: (530) 662-1133
Women Escaping A Violent Environment(WEAVE)
24/7 Hotline: (916) 920-2952
YWCA of Silicon Valley Rape Crisis Center
24/7 Hotline at (408) 287-3000 or (650) 493-7273
*Counselors here can connect you with other centers in your area
5. Help to educate them about their options.
There are many difficult decisions that may need to be made following an assault, some that are time sensitive. The survivor may want to seek medical care (STD testing, pregnancy testing/prevention, physical checkup, evidence collection, etc.), talk to a counselor, or report the assault to authorities. As a friend, you don’t need to be an expert on all the options that are available. Again, this is where the Rape Crisis professionals can be indispensable in helping educate both you and the survivor.
6. Encourage immediate medical attention.
It is vital that sexual assault survivors seek emergency medical care at a local hospital as soon as possible, within the first 24-36 hours is best. A person who has been sexually assaulted may not realize that s/he has sustained serious injuries (including closed head injury). In addition, hospital staff are trained to collect, preserve and document physical evidence of the assault. Emergency Department staff can also provide counseling and treatment related to sexually transmitted infections (including HIV) and pregnancy which may have resulted from the sexual assault.
Even if the assault happened a while ago and even if your friend does not appear to have any physical injuries it is important to encourage that they seek medical care. The SMU Health & Counseling Center can also provide medical care and follow up.
7. Give the survivor control.
All control has been stripped from the survivor during the assault. Empower the survivor to make decisions about what steps to take next, but do not tell her/him what to do. For example, let your friend decide if she or he wants to notify the police or contact a rape crisis center. But, do what you can to assist your friend in getting information about these and other options so she or he can make informed decisions.
8. Maintain confidentiality.
Respect your friend’s privacy. Ask your friend what, if any, information it is OK for you to share with others. Ask how to manage others’- floor mates, classmates, club members, friends- questions and concerns. Should they be directed to ask your friend directly or are there ways you can respond and still respect your friend’s privacy?
9. Taking care of yourself and recognizing your own limitations.
If someone you know is raped, you may feel upset and overwhelmed. Recognize that hearing about a sexual assault can be difficult and that you are going to have your own feelings about what has happened to your friend, and some of them like sadness and anger may even be similar. It is normal and okay for you to experience your own reactions. You may even feel confused about how to best support your friend. This is not a failure on your part, there is a reason we have trained professionals to work with survivors – it is very hard to listen to trauma.
Even if your friend doesn't want to talk to a counselor, you can get support for yourself and find healthy ways to deal with your feelings. Talking to a counselor can help you understand your own reactions to what has happened and enable you to support your friend more effectively. You can contact the SMU Counseling Center for support at 510-869-6629.
10. Be patient and understanding.
The trauma of a sexual assault does not go away quickly. It may take a while for your friend to recover. Sometimes friends and family members expect sexual assault victims to be "over it" in a few weeks. Understand that the pain the survivor feels, and the symptoms, may last for a long time.
Some Tips on What Not to Do
Don’t pry for details about what happened.
Don’t question the survivor's account.
Don’t disagree with the course of action the survivor chooses to follow.
Don’t become so emotionally involved that you can’t help the survivor.
Don’t use words or comments like these, which blame or impose your own feelings on the survivor.
Adapted from: College of the Holy Cross
There will undoubtedly come a time when you are faced with a situation in which you can intervene and help stop a potentially dangerous situation - stopping someone from driving drunk, eliminating bullying behavior, or preventing a sexual assault from occurring. Traditionally sexual assault prevention work has focused on encouraging (mainly) women to protect themselves - don't walk alone at night, don't drink too much, etc. While these efforts can be helpful, they do not effectively stop crimes from occurring, and they place the duty and responsibility solely on the victim. As a friend, partner, classmate, family member, etc. you are in a unique position to do something about abuses you see. Learn how to be an effective bystander and how to confront abuses when they occur.
The Bystander Effect
Increasingly, it is being recognized that the solution to health and social justice problems requires that we engage bystanders – individuals who observe a problem and want to do something but don’t. Despite the importance of this issue and the fact that most people want to “do the right thing” there is a phenomenon called "bystander apathy" or the "bystander effect" that can be described as a diffusion of responsibility which suggests that the more people there are present to witness an event, the less each individual feels personally responsible for doing something. Several variables help to explain why the bystander effect occurs. These variables include:
One of the most famous cases of this occurred in 1964 with the rape and murder of Kitty Genovese. While a man attacked, raped, and killed this young woman for over half an hour, 38 men and women witnessed the assault and did nothing to help. The shock and confusion surrounding this single event captured the country’s attention and launched a substantial debate into how caring people could watch such an attack, and yet do nothing. This one event launched new research and programs about the ‘bystander effect’. This one event also marked the beginning of an approach by programs and researchers to move bystanders to act more responsibly.
With this new perspective or approach, people might intervene in less extreme situations, such as saying something at a party when a man is harassing a woman, or supporting a family member when confronting an abusive relative. This expanded approach includes a broad range of opportunities to intervene that can be as simple as a word here or there or more involved behaviors that let people know that you will take action.
Bystander intervention is a philosophy and strategy for the prevention of various types of violence, including bullying, sexual harassment, sexual assault, and intimate partner violence. Bystander Intervention is based on the fact that people make decisions and continue behaviors based on the reactions they get from others.
What makes this approach different from previous approaches to sexual assault prevention? The bystander approach offers several clear benefits:
"It's On Us" Campaign
In 2014, President Obama and Vice President Biden joined leaders from universities, media companies, the sports world, and grassroots organizations to launch the "It’s On Us" campaign against sexual assault on college campuses. IT'S ON US is a cultural movement aimed at fundamentally shifting the way we think about sexual assault. IT’S ON US is a rallying cry inviting everyone to step up and realize that the solution begins with us. It’s a declaration that sexual assault is not only a crime committed by a perpetrator against a victim, but a societal problem in which all of us have a role to play.
The campaign hopes to inspire everyone to see it as their responsibility to do something, big or small, to prevent sexual violence. To create an environment, be it a dorm room, a party, a club or a sports team, or the greater college campus, where sexual assault is unacceptable and survivors are supported. It’s on us to realize we all have a role to play in preventing sexual assault. It’s on us to embrace the responsibility we have to stand up for the safety of those around us—to challenge each other to do everything we can to make our college campuses safe.
Raising awareness. Holding ourselves and each other accountable. Looking out for someone who cannot consent.
If you haven’t already, join the movement, spread the word, and take the pledge at ItsOnUs.org.
How to Be an Active Bystander
There are many ways that you can help. Be an intervener! Stop potential incidents before they occur, educate yourself and others, talk to and support your friends so that they will intervene as well! The best way bystanders can assist in creating an empowering climate free of interpersonal violence is to diffuse the problem behaviors before they escalate. The following are examples of the range of language that individuals and groups can use to message what they and their members can do about sexual assault.
For more Information on Bystander Responsibility in Sexual Violence Prevention, please see:
For more information on Bystander Intervention see these resources
Adapted from: NSVRC Engaging Bystanders
Prevention, at its core, is about changing social norms and beliefs that make violence acceptable in society. Sexual violence is connected to all forms of oppression, but sexism (or the belief that women and girls are less valuable than men and boys), is one of the strongest forces. Although the anti-sexual violence and feminist movements have done tremendous work and education around sexism and how harmful it is to women and girls, men and boys have not historically been part of this conversation.
Traditionally, many rape prevention programs and sexual assault crisis centers have not actively recruited or engaged men as volunteers and staff members. Recently, however, there has been an evolution of sorts that has added a progression toward prevention education in new and innovative ways. These efforts have been better able to address some of the problems surrounding peer and male/female relationships, and have begun to show anti-sexual violence advocates that change is possible. Ending sexual violence means transforming a culture of rape and effecting true social change. It means raising male awareness and actively challenging men to examine what it means to be masculine. In order to successfully transform and change societal attitudes, rape can no longer be seen as solely a “women’s issue”, but instead as an issue that affects both genders. Together with women and men have the power to end rape.
As men, you can begin to look critically at how your own behaviors and attitudes might contribute to a campus culture that tacitly supports sexism and violence, and challenge each other to pursue a full, healthy vision of masculinity. Men at SMU can help stop rape and sexual assault by educating themselves about the facts of these crimes and serving as allies with women in preventing rape and other forms of violence.
Men's Pledge To End Sexual Violence
I pledge to end sexual violence because ...
Thus, I promise to ...
Become a responsible Bystander and learn how to speak up, create awareness and prevent potentially harmful situations.
Alternatives to Coerciveness
How to Be a Responsible Partner
Adapted from: Men Against Sexual Violence
Many myths surround the issue of violence against women, and the perpetration of these myths — especially those that excuse the perpetrator and blame the victim — reinforces behavior which contributes to sexual assault, domestic violence, and stalking. Separating the myths from the facts is an important first step in acknowledging the problem and working to eliminate it.
Myth: Sexual assault is an expression of passion and lust.
Fact: Sexual assault is a crime that uses power and control to dominate, humiliate and punish.
Myth: Rape is an impulsive, uncontrollable act of sexual gratification.
Fact: Most rapes are planned and motivated by aggression, dominance, and hatred, not sex.
Myth: If a woman is being stalked, and she just ignores the unwanted behavior, it will go away.
Fact: This is not necessarily the case. It is important to stop the stalker as soon as possible. The sooner action is taken, be it a police caution, warning or arrest, the greater the chance of stopping the stalking.
Myth: College students do not have to worry about becoming victims of dating or domestic violence.
Fact: Dating and domestic abuse is a problem on college campuses and often an indication of abuse in subsequent relationships and marriages.
Myth: Violent relationships only happen in marriages.
Fact: An abusive or violent relationship can happen to anyone in an intimate relationship regardless of marital status. Domestic and relationship violence can begin when adolescents start dating. Relationship violence among teenagers exists and can include physical, sexual and emotional abuse. And, not all domestic partners can be or are married.
Myth: Jealousy is a sign of love.
Fact: When a person continually accuses their partner of flirting or having an affair and is suspicious of everyone in their partner's life, it is possessing and controlling behavior, not love.
Myth: When their partner hits someone, they must have provoked the behavior in some way.
Fact: No one deserves to be hit. Whether or not there may have seemed to be a provocation, violence is always wrong. It never solves problems, and it often silences the victim.
Myth: People in abusive relationships stay because they enjoy being abused.
Fact: People who are abused by their dating or domestic partner do not stay in the relationship because they like being bullied. Most victims want to improve their relationship rather than end it. Violence is often cyclical in abusive relationships. Consequently, an apology and promise to end the behavior will often follow an episode of abuse which contributes to the attitude that the behavior may change. Unfortunately, without the will to change and the appropriate psychological assistance, the abuse will not end. The victim may stay for practical or emotional reasons including love, fear of reprisal such as more injury or ultimately death, social isolation or shame.
Myth: "Name calling" doesn't hurt anyone.
Fact: Emotional abuse is often considered harmless "name calling". But name calling hurts; that's why people do it. Emotional abuse lowers the victim's self-esteem, sometimes permanently. For many victims, it is the most damaging aspect of abusive relationships.
Myth: I can tell if someone is going to be a "hitter" just by looking at the person.
Fact: Abusers come in all sizes and shapes. They are not the stereotypical muscle-bound men portrayed in the media. They are women and men; they are in the classroom, in your neighborhood, or a friend of a friend.
Myth: Dating or domestic violence will never happen to you.
Fact: Dating violence can happen to you. It is not limited to a particular social class, sexual orientation, gender or any single ethnic or racial group. Some people are victimized on their first date while others are assaulted after dating a long time.
Myth: A relationship is not abusive if there is no physical abuse.
Fact: Perpetrators of violence maintain control over the victim by using physical or sexual violence or by using emotional violence or the threat of physical or sexual violence. In some relationships, the threat of violence is enough to keep the abuser in control. The threat of violence and emotional violence can be just as hurtful or painful as physical violence.
Myth: Rapists are strangers who hide in dark alleys waiting to attack women late at night.
Fact: Most rapes are committed by someone the victim knows. Rape can occur at any hour of the day, and half of all rapes occur in the victim’s residence.
Myth: Battered women can always leave — and the situation can’t be that bad, or they would.
Fact: It may be difficult for a woman to leave her partner. Women stay in violent relationships for both emotional and practical reasons, including love, economic dependence, fear of reprisal, social isolation, and shame.
Myth: Women are to blame for putting themselves into situations that lead to sexual assault: staying out late, drinking, using drugs, going out alone, talking to strangers.
Fact: Most victims of sexual assault are attacked in places they thought were safe by someone they thought they could trust.
Myth: Cyberstalkers are not dangerous.
Fact: If a cyberstalker takes the harassment offline, a woman may begin to receive harassing snail mail or phone calls. In addition, the stalker may know where she lives.
Myth: Sexual harassment is a part of life. Such behavior is usually just harmless flirtation or a way to compliment a woman.
Fact: Sexual harassment is conduct that makes women (and men) feel uncomfortable, humiliated, distressed, or fearful. This behavior is both unacceptable and illegal.
Adapted from the CALCASA Campus Violence Prevention Resource Guide
Dating and Domestic Violence
Dating and domestic violence, also referred to as relationship or intimate partner violence, is the use of power by one person to control another within an intimate relationship. Signs of an abusive relationship include jealousy, possessiveness, isolating and controlling behavior, threats and intimidations, put-downs and name-calling, yelling, breaking things, physical and sexual assault, and financial coercion or control. The rate of dating/domestic violence among undergraduate and graduate students is about the same rate as in the general population. Abuse occurs in same-gender relationships as often as in relationships between people of different genders.
In a healthy relationship, your partner respects you and your individuality.
Hurting someone is never a sign of love!!! When a relationship is violent or abusive, the people involved need to either seek professional help to make the relationship work without abuse/violence or get out of it. You don’t have to settle for an abusive relationship, and you don’t have to continue to behave in abusive ways. Both of you deserve better.
Common feelings people experience when in abusive and/or unhealthy relationships can include:
Remember, you're not alone
If you think you are in an abusive relationship, get help immediately. Don't keep your concerns to yourself. Talk to someone you trust like a parent, teacher, counselor or medical professional. On campus you can contact the SMU Student Health & Counseling Center for confidential counseling.
Stalking is a pattern of repeated and unwanted attention, harassment, contact, or any other conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear, and/or threaten her or his safety, mental health, or physical health. These collection of behaviors, at one time in the recent past, tended to be excused or minimized by society. Now, it is generally understood that this pattern of behaviors causes anxiety and impacts the survivor’s ability to pursue his/her education and live a whole and healthy life. More than half of all stalking survivors are between 18 and 29 years old and most stalkers are an acquaintance, such as a former dating partner.
Stalking behaviors or activities may include, but are not limited to, the following:
Dating and Domestic Violence
Men as Allies