I've been assaulted. What do I do?
You are not alone. Many people survive rape or sexual assault and cope with these experiences. You are in no way responsible for your sexual assault. A sexual assault can happen to anyone regardless of how they look or act. Speak with a counselor. Sexual assault is a traumatic experience that can cause many emotional repercussions. No one should have to deal with that alone - what happened is NOT your fault.
First and foremost, think about your personal safety. Are you safe from your attacker? Do you need immediate help?
- If you do not feel you are safe, call NWOSU Campus Police or Alva Police Department and they will immediately assist you.
- NWOSU Campus Police: (580) 327-8511 for on-campus incidents
- Alva Police Department: (580) 327-2064 for off-campus incidents
- NWOSU has a designated sexual assault advocate (580-327-6648) to assist you and help meet your immediate needs. The NWOSU sexual assault advocate will give you advice, information, talk with you about your options, and facilitate decision making.
Once you have secured your safety, think about getting medical attention.
Immediate medical attention may be necessary to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infection and possible pregnancy, as well as treat any wounds incurred.
Go to Alva Share Medical Center to receive care for any physical injuries that may have occurred. While in the emergency room, treatment will be provided for sexually transmitted diseases and to prevent pregnancy.
Go to Woodward Regional Hospital to see a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) for a rape examination kit. You will be examined by the nurse in order to treat any injuries to gather evidence. Travel to Woodward Regional Hospital can be provided by NWOSU Victim's Advocate Karen Thomas (Northwest Domestic Crisis Services) by calling 580-327-6648 or 1-888-256-1215.
What To Do
- Do not shower, bathe, douche, change or destroy clothes; do not eat, drink, smoke or chew gum; do not take any medications; do not remove sheets from bed; do not straighten room or place of the incident. Preserving evidence is critical for criminal prosecution. If you do take evidence (i.e., sheets), you need to take it in a brown paper bag (not plastic). Plastic may contaminate evidence. Although an individual may not want to prosecute immediately after the incident, that choice may not be available later without credible evidence. The evidence collected can also be useful in the campus disciplinary process.
- Receiving a SANE exam does not commit you to a full prosecution, rather will preserve any potential evidence if you decide you would like to prosecute at a later date.
- With your permission, the sexual assault Victim Advocate will support you throughout the entire exam, which will be performed by the nurse. The advocate will provide a packet of written materials that contains information about common reactions to sexual assault, follow-up medical needs and support services.
Even if you choose not to access medical attention, you are encouraged to seek support services when you are ready. These might include counseling, law enforcement, or student conduct services. You can read more about resources on the Campus Resources page or Interim Safety Measures listed below.
Interim Safety Measures
The Title IX
Coordinator can put in place interim measures for student victims of sexual
harassment and sexual violence as needed.
A formal complaint does not need to be submitted to have interim
measures put in place. The university
will maintain confidentiality to the extent possible.
a. Assistance in Reporting: The Title IX Coordinator can assist in filing
a complaint through the Title IX process and the appropriate law enforcement
agencies against the student(s) who caused harm.
b. No Contact Order: The Title IX
Coordinator can put in place a No Contact Order between the complainant and the
respondent, which would prohibit contact between parties through any means of
communication, as well as prohibit others from making contact on their behalf.
c. Emergency Protective
Order: NWOSU’s Victim Advocate, Karmen Thomas can
assist victims in filing for an Emergency Protective Order. This is a court-ordered petition that
prohibits contact between the complainant and respondent.
d. Safety Measures: The Title IX Coordinator can coordinate any
reasonable arrangements that are necessary for ongoing safety. This includes transportation arrangements or
providing an escort.
e. Living Arrangements:
The Title IX Coordinator can assist in changing on-campus living arrangements
or that of the respondent to ensure safety and a comfortable living situation.
f. Academic Arrangements: The Title IX Coordinator can assist in
adjusting academic schedules as well as assist in providing access to academic
g. Other Interim Measures: The Title IX
Coordinator can coordinate reasonable arrangements to address the effects of
the sexual violence, including connecting victims with counseling, health care
or academic support resources.
IX becomes aware of a student who potentially could have been a victim of
sexual violence, they will contact the victim through Northwestern Oklahoma State
University email or mail to share these potential interim measures, reporting
options and other resources available.
This will be done no matter the location of the incident.
Student Conduct Process
YOU HAVE FILED A COMPLAINT WITH THE TITLE IX COORDINATOR
want you to be knowledgeable about the process that occurs once a complaint
with the Title IX Coordinator is filed.
The following describes the investigation process, the hearing and the
outcome of the hearing. The Title IX
Coordinator will be available to explain the process as requested. The Title IX investigation process will be
prompt, fair, and impartial. This means
the process will be completed within a reasonable timeframe as designated below
and without undue delay. The process
will be conducted in a manner that is consistent with the university’s policies
and will be transparent to all parties.
Lastly, the Title IX process will be conducted by officials who do not
have conflict of interest or bias for the complainant or respondent.
- You will be notified of receipt of your
complaint and the actions the university official will take.
- A university official will meet with
you to discuss the complaint submitted, review the investigation and hearing
process, and determine the outcome you desire from your complaint.
- An investigation will be conducted by a
non-biased Title IX Investigator. This
investigation will include:
- reviewing any documentary evidence.
- The investigation of complaints will be
adequate, reliable, and impartial. The
Title IX Investigator will compile an investigation report.
- The investigation process can take up
to 60 days. If at any point either party
would like an update of the investigation process all they need to do is ask
and an update will be provided.
- The university official will determine
if a Title IX conduct hearing is possible based on the available information.
- If it is determined that the university
will proceed with a formal Title IX conduct hearing, the complainant and the
responding student(s) will be notified of the hearing date.
- Hearing notification will occur at
least five administrative office days in advance and include the hearing date,
time and location. Hearings will be
scheduled around academic schedules.
- Allegations of sexual misconduct and
sexual harassment will be heard by the Sexual Assault Response Team’s hearing
- The hearing includes opening
statements, presentation of the investigation report, information about the
incident, presentation of information by witnesses, and closing statements.
- Each party is permitted to have a
person of their choosing to accompany them throughout the hearing as an advisor.
- All parties are permitted to be present
during the hearing (except during deliberations of the panel). All parties can be in the same room in a
pre-arranged, non-threatening set-up or in separate rooms with a video conference
- All parties are permitted to make
statements, present witnesses and information during the hearing. Witnesses and information need to be directly
related to the incident.
- The Sexual Assault Response Team’s
hearing committee will make a determination of the policy violations and, if
any, the appropriate sanction(s).
- The standard of proof used in all
university hearings is preponderance of the evidence, which means the
determination to be made is whether it is more likely than not a violation
occurred. This is significantly
different than proof beyond reasonable doubt, which is required for a criminal
- Possible outcomes include the entire
range of sanctions listed in the Sexual Misconduct Policy. When it is determined that sexual misconduct
is more likely than not to have occurred, the outcome can include separation
from the university.
- Both parties have the right to be
informed, in writing, of the outcome. You
will be notified within seven business days after the hearing, at the same time
the respondent is informed of the outcome.
- Both parties have the right to appeal
the decision reached through the hearing proceedings within five administrative
office days after notification of the hearing outcome.
Supporting Sexual Violence Victims
How to Support a Friend
Often, victims report that one of the worst parts about experiencing sexual assault is losing control of their choices and what happens to them. So, it is your responsibility to give the victim back as much control as possible. This means allowing the victim to make his/her own decisions about the next steps they will take regarding medical attention, law enforcement, counseling, and who hears their story.
If your friend is a victim of sexual violence the following information can offer guidance on how to help and support.
- Listen and accept what you hear. Do not press for details. Allow your friend to reflect on what has happened and to share some of her/his feelings. This is important because asking victims about details of a situation, like what they were wearing, where they were, or who they were with, might come across as blaming victims because of these things.
- Keep what is said confidential. The victim should always decide who hears their story and who does not; even if you have good intentions in telling someone without the victim's permission, your actions may further harm the victim. This does not apply to University employees as employees are required to report all Title IX issues to the office of Student Conduct or the Title IX office.
- Let your friend know that she/he is not to blame. Many victims tend to blame themselves for the offenders actions, especially if the perpetrator was an acquaintance.
- Encourage your friend to obtain a medical examination.
- Encourage your friend to call the NWOSU Victim's Advocate (580-327-6648).
- Seek emotional support for yourself if needed. Again, it is incredibly difficult to watch a friend go through this. Not only could a counselor help you process this experience, the counselor may be able to give you advice on how to continue helping your friend.
- Allow your friend to make their own decision about their next steps.
- Accept their choice even if you disagree with what they have chosen to do. It is important that they feel empowered to make choices and take back control. Do not impose your values on the victim.
- Encourage your friend to file a police report. Filing a report does not commit you to prosecute, but will allow the gathering of information and evidence. The information and evidence maintain future options regarding criminal prosecution, university disciplinary actions and/or civil actions against the perpetrator. Information can be helpful in supporting other reports and/or preventing further incidents (even anonymous reports are useful).
- Offer campus resources to your friend.
Supporting Domestic Violence Victims
As with sexual violence, supporting a friend who is a victim of domestic/dating violence is no easy task. It is very different from helping a friend with an everyday problem. Thus, it will be important to get appropriate information from professionals and obtain services for yourself as well. Below are some helpful guidelines to consult.
When a friend confides in you that means he/she trusts that you can help and that they are seriously concerned about their relationship. Many times in Domestic Violence relationships, the victim does not disclose to anyone due to the psychological control often experienced; so, know that a disclosure is big deal and your response matters.
When a Friend Tells Me about Their Relationship…
The best thing you can do when a friend initially discloses their concerns about their relationship is simply listen with a non-judgmental ear and offer support. Often, you might feel angry towards to the offending partner and want to tell your friend all the bad things you think about him/her. However, this is counterproductive. The last thing your friend needs is another angry person to calm down. It is important that you stay very even-tempered so that your friend knows you are a safe resource. Also, it is very common for victims of Domestic Violence to continue the relationship with the abuser for a length of time even after disclosing their concerns. Your friend will be much less likely to confide in you again should things get worse if you react overly negatively towards the abusive partner. Thus, while you want to express your concern for your friend, you don’t want to be so expressive that your friend doesn’t feel comfortable talking to you about it again.
Here are some guidelines for reacting to a friend when he/she tells you about their abusive relationship:
- Ensure that you are both safe, i.e. talk in a confidential location away from the abusive partner.
- Stay calm; do not become overly angry at the abusive partner.
- Listen with a non-judgmental ear.
- Tell your friend that he/she deserves to be treated with respect and make sure he/she understands this behavior is not his/her fault.
- Be clear when stating that you are concerned the partner's behavior will continue to get worse, because you know that DV typically escalates over time, and that you think your friend is in danger.
- Offer resources your friend can utilize.
- Offer to assist your friend in any action he/she could potentially take, i.e. go with him/her to the Title IX Office to file a University complaint, go with him/her to the police station to file a police report, go with him/her to talk to a counselor, etc.
Again, it is very common for victims to remain with the abusive partner even after disclosing to a friend. While it may seem very clear to you that the best decision is to leave the abusive partner, Domestic Violence is a very complex and confusing experience for victims. There is no easy answer for why victims to stay with their abusive partners as there are many psychological factors at play. Many times, victims feel they cannot support themselves, they still love their partner and hope that he/she will change, or they blame themselves for the abuse. You can learn more about some of the reasons a victim might stay and other information at safehorizon.org.
When the Friend Chooses Not to Leave...
If you are in a situation where a friend is choosing to stay with the abusive partner against your recommendation or concerns, it can be incredibly frustrating. You might even become angry with your friend for not taking care of themselves or making what you percieve to be dangerous decisions. While that is a very understandable reaction, your response at this point is critical. The best thing you can do is accept your friend’s choices, even if you don’t agree with them. That way, your friend continues to know that you are a safe resource. Sometimes, you might even think that giving your friend an ultimatum (e.g. leave your partner or I can’t be friends with you) might convince them to leave. However, this only serves to further restrict resources available to your friend and makes them even more vulnerable.
Here are some tips for continuing to help a friend who stay with their abusive partner:
- Accept your friend’s choices, even if you don’t agree with them.
- Continue to gently express your concern for your friend and ensure that your friend knows the abuse is not his/her fault.
- Continue to provide resources and offer to assist with anything you can.
- Talk to a counselor yourself to ensure that you are taking care of yourself.
This is not an easy situation by any means. You will likely become very frustrated and may even feel helpless. However, you are not helpless and you can continue to be there for your friend so that when/if your friend decides they are ready to leave, your friend has a safe place to turn.
What if I Suspect a Friend's Relationship is Abusive?
If you suspect that your friend's relationship may be abusive, you have a couple of options: do nothing or intervene in some way. If you are truly concerned about a friend, the best thing you can do is express that concern as early as possible before the relationship gets worse. While you do not want to be so forceful that your friend becomes angry with you, there are ways you can gently express concern. Here are some you could choose from:
- Always consider safety first, i.e. ensure that you and the friend are in a safe location away from the partner before talking.
- Talk to a professional counselor to get advice about how to approach your friend .
- Provide your friend with education regarding what Domestic Violence looks like.
- Calmly explain what behaviors exhibited by the partner lead you to be concerned.
- Be sure your friend knows that the concerning behavior is not his/her fault.
Again, this is not an easy situation for anyone. The best thing you can do is consult professionals both for yourself and for your friend.
Information from Oklahoma State University website, http://1is2many.okstate.edu