If you have experienced sexual assault or sexual violence
It is not your fault. If you’ve experienced sexual assault and/or sexual violence, please know that what has happened is not your fault.
Go to a safe place. You deserve to feel safe at this time.
Your feelings are valid. You may be experiencing a wide range of emotions, such as anger, confusion, disbelief, despair, fear, outrage, recurring memories, sadness, and shock. Any and all of these feelings are appropriate responses to trauma.
You have a right to confidentiality. The Center for Women, Gender & Sexuality offers a confidential victim advocate for your support. This individual does not, and cannot, report to law enforcement or to the university. It is your right to decide which reports, if any, you wish to file. The advocate can help you decide what options are best for you.
It is your right to decide what to do. It is your right to decide whether to tell someone, who to tell, and what resources to use. You may choose to speak with someone or not. If you are unsure what to do, the confidential victim advocate can help you make this decision. In private, you may ask questions, determine whether or not to report, and seek help in accessing campus and/or community resources for support. Please note that successful criminal prosecutions— distinct from institutional investigations— will benefit from a police report, which allows law enforcement to gather time sensitive information and evidence.
You deserve support. Contact someone who can support you, help you obtain medical care, and consider your options for reporting the incident. On-campus and off-campus support services are available. Taxi vouchers are available to provide transportation from campus to local hospitals in New Bedford and Fall River.
Preserve evidence, if possible—before you report the incident and/or seek medical care. Do not shower, bathe, douche, brush your teeth, or throw away any clothing that might contain evidence of the assault. Save articles of clothing, bedding, etc., in separate paper bags and bring them to the hospital or give them to the police. Note that plastic bags can damage evidence. Do not disturb anything in the area in which the assault occurred.
Seek medical care within 120 hours. You may seek medical care without reporting the crime to the police.
- Go to the hospital emergency department for treatment of injuries, prevention of sexually transmitted infections (including HIV) and pregnancy, and crisis intervention and emotional support services.
- Physical evidence for medical and legal services can also be collected at this time. A toxicology kit can be completed that may be able to detect "rape drugs." The window to collect forensic evidence is within 120 hours, or 5 days, of the incident.
If the person who has been victimized and who is or was under the influence of alcohol or drugs or in violation of any other Code of Conduct violation at either the time of the incident or at the time s/he makes the report, s/he will not be charged with an alcohol or drug violation (unless involving distribution) either through the criminal or University Student Conduct Process.