Sexual assault is an act of violence. It is the violation of a person's mind and body. In legal terms, sexual assault is forced sexual contact through physical force, the threat of force, intimidation, coercion, or the inability of the victim to give consent due to physical helplessness (mental disability, intoxication, etc.) of which the assailant was aware or should have been aware. Sexual assault could happen to anyone, female or male, adult or child. It occurs within all races, ethnic groups, religions, and socioeconomic classes.
It is important to understand that sex without mutual consent is rape, regardless of whether or not physical violence or weapons were involved. Understanding the meaning of consent is critically important.
- Consent is based on choice.
- Consent is active, not passive.
- Consent is possible only when there is equal power.
- Giving in because of fear or coercion is not consent.
- Giving in to something because of wanting to fit in, feeling bad, or being deceived, is not consent.
- In consent, parties must be equally free to act.
- In consent, parties must be fully conscious and have clearly communicated their intent.
Guided by Marywood University's mission statement, this Roman Catholic institution is committed to belief in God, the recognition of the dignity of each individual, and to the development of a supportive community. To support this mission, the institution depends on strict adherence to standards of conduct set by its members. Among these are standards regarding human sexuality, any expression of which must affirm the integrity and dignity of oneself and others.
Sexual misconduct in all forms violates the sanctity of the human body and spirit and will not be tolerated within our community. In addition, sexual assault is a crime punishable by both civil and criminal legal action and is a serious violation of University policy.
Through the sexual assault protocol that follows, Marywood University seeks to provide a consistent, caring, and timely response when sexual assaults occur within the University community.
These procedures were created to:
- Support the recovery of a sexual assault victim by providing prompt and compassionate support services.
- Create a campus environment that both expedites and encourages the prompt reporting of sexual assaults.
- Facilitate the apprehension of assailants when such crimes are committed and the processing of cases through the campus judicial/conduct system.
To accomplish these goals, the following information is provided:
- Procedures students should follow if a sex offense occurs, including who should be contacted, the importance of preserving evidence as may be necessary for the proof of criminal sexual assault, and to whom the alleged offense should be reported;
- Students' options to notify proper law enforcement authorities, including the on campus Campus Safety and local police, and the option to be assisted by campus authorities in notifying these authorities, if the student chooses to do so; and
- Existing counseling, mental health, or student services for victims of sexual assault, both on campus and in the community.
Procedures for dealing with sexual assault are addressed to the victim. Any student, staff, or faculty member assisting a victim of sexual assault is encouraged to follow these procedures.
- Get to a safe place as soon as you can.
- For your own safety and well-being, seek immediate support, information, and medical assistance. Help can be accessed through a number of campus and community resources.
It's important to know that the following steps will help guard evidence vital for prosecuting, should you at any time decide to pursue that option. The decision to report to the police or to go to court is yours alone. Even if you do not want to report the incident now, and you do not have to, you may reconsider at a later point.
- Go to the hospital for medical assistance.
- Do not shower, bathe, or douche.
- Try not to urinate.
- If oral contact took place, do not smoke, eat, or brush your teeth.
- If you change clothes, place them in a paper bag (plastic destroys evidence), and bring them with you to your medical examination.
- The hospital will call a counselor from the local Women's Resource Center to support you and provide follow-up resources during the hospital visit.
- Take care of your own needs-talking with someone you trust or keeping a journal can help you work through your feelings. Contact one of the resource people listed on the next page to assist you with this process.
- Whether the assault was recent or in the past, you may be experiencing physical and/or emotionally confusing reactions. Contact the Counseling Center at 348-6245 for support and to explore issues related to rape trauma syndrome.
Reporting Sexual Assault
Reporting within the University:
To encourage reporting, Marywood University pursues a policy of offering victims of sexual misconduct the option of limited confidentiality or full confidentiality.
Limited Confidentiality is understood to mean that a victim can report a sexual assault to a Campus Safety Authority (Residence Life Staff, Campus Safety, Student Activities Personnel, Student Organization Advisors) and request that no action be taken to hold the perpetrator accountable for an alleged sexual assault, after the victim has identified the perpetrator. The decision to pursue judicial/conduct action against the perpetrator by the Dean of Students Office using the victim's name will be determined by several factors, including, but not limited to the following: an established pattern of sexual assault by the perpetrator; the gravity of physical violence; and the victim's wishes. Students must understand that reporting via this option does not guarantee confidentiality. The Dean of Students will always consider abiding by the wishes of the victim, but may make the decision to pursue the perpetrator through the University's judicial/conduct system. A confidential Sexual Assault Report will be made for statistical purposes to be sure that all sexual assaults reported to the institution are documented. Names do not appear on the report.
Full Confidentiality is understood to mean that a victim can report a sexual assault to a counselor in the University's Counseling and Student Development Center and confidentiality will be maintained. If a victim of sexual assault desires that details of his/her incident be kept confidential, victims should speak with on-campus Counseling Center staff or off-campus rape crisis resources, who will maintain full confidentiality. Counseling Center staff members are available to help victims free of charge, and can be seen on an emergency basis. A confidential Sexual Assault Report will be made for statistical purposes to be sure that all sexual assaults reported to the institution are documented. Names do not appear on the report.
Reporting to the Police
If you decide to report an assault to the police, you can do so with the intent to prosecute, or you can make an anonymous report. To make a report with the police, you may contact the University's Campus Safety or the Dean of Students Office to facilitate the police coming to campus. If you intend to prosecute, in addition to sharing details of the incident with the police, you will be asked to undergo a medical examination for the purpose of collecting evidence.
If you choose to report the sexual assault to the police, but do not wish to prosecute, or to have your name associated with the report, you can make an anonymous report. The police will record the date and time of the assault, the mode of operation of the assailant, and any description of the perpetrator you can give. If the victim knows the assailant's name, it will be recorded. This report may influence the District Attorney's decision whether to prosecute another case, if the assailant has been named in one or more separate complaints. Also, the police store the information, in the event that pattern crimes by the perpetrator are detected.