Sexual assault is against the law. It is specifically prohibited on campus and in the university community. The university’s definition of sexual assault encompasses sexual contact, sexual intrusion, and sexual penetration without consent. Acquaintance rape accounts for the majority of rapes committed, and includes situations in which a person is incapable of consenting to sexual contact (often due to being under the influence of alcohol or other drugs). Violators can be arrested, charged with a crime, and may face university discipline.
Please visit the Community Health website for more information about Gender Violence Prevention.
What to do if you or a friend has been sexually assaulted…
- Safety. If the victim feels that he/she is in immediate danger, call 911.
- Medical. Forensic evidence can be collected and saved by having a SANE exam (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) also known as the “rape kit”. SANE exams are usually done within 72 hours of the assault, but sometimes evidence can still be collected up to a week after the assault, but the sooner you go the better. For those survivors who do not choose to have the forensic exam, medical exams, consultation, and follow-up care (including testing for sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy testing) is available and can be planned. Learn more from the Office of Victim Assistance.
- Reporting: The idea of reporting to police is likely to be upsetting to the victim. It is important to let him/her know that even though a report must be made, there is NO requirement for him/her to move forward with criminal charges.
-Here are some CONFIDENTIAL resources to offer:
- Office of Victim Assistance: 303-492-8855
- Moving to End Sexual Assault (MESA) rape crisis team: 303-443-7300
- Listen. One of the most important ways to support a survivor is to listen to him/her without judging or blaming. Remember that no matter what the circumstances, no one deserves to be sexually assaulted.
- Defining. Allow the survivor to talk about his/her experience. Do not define the experience for him/her. Sometimes survivors do not know what to call what happened and you do not need to say, “That is rape.” Regardless of the legal definition, if they had a “bad experience,” they need to speak with someone who will listen.
- Follow the survivor’s lead. DO NOT take control of the situation. Most importantly, do not try and do something to “fix” the situation. Being a survivor of sexual assault can cause survivors to feel a loss of control. Let the survivor make his/her own decisions and support their decisions. You can encourage them to reach out for professional support to help determine his/her options, like through CU Victim Assistance or MESA.
- Individuality. Understand that each survivor of sexual assault responds uniquely to an assault. Some common reactions may include shock, fear, embarrassment, guilt, anger, depression, and/or feeling overwhelmed. Survivors go through a process after these events and feel differently at different times. Sometimes they want to talk, want to do other things, want to pursue various options, let them know you are available and have resources to offer.
- Support. Be a support person and help them find support.
- Take care of yourself. Resources that are available to survivors are also available to you. Consider talking with someone too, like your RA, an advocate, or a counselor, to process your feelings and help you support survivors more effectively.
Reporting Sexual Assault
Reporting an incident of sexual assault is a difficult yet important decision. Making a report might help with recovery, provide support and services, and prevent the offender from assaulting someone else. If safety is your primary concern, it is important to contact the CU-Boulder Police Department by calling 9-1-1 in emergency situations and 303-492-6666 in non emergency situations. If you are not sure about making a police report, you can get free, confidential information and support and discuss your options by contacting the Office of Victim Assistance.
U.S. Department of Education: Forcible Sex Offenses (Universities – National)