The Aftermath Of Sexual Assault

Rape is a complex and painful experience which requires a combination of psychologicalegal, medical, legal, spiritual, family and personal responses. A sexual assault can disrupt a person’s life in many ways. Common feelings include fear, anxiety, rage, depression, self-blame and guilt. Thoughts can be contradictory and confusing, and normal concentration difficult.

Being raped by someone you initially trusted can be especially devastating because you can be left with the feeling that you can’t trust your own judgment. Some disturbing feelings and thoughts may not become apparent for days, weeks, months, or even years later, yet they still affect one's sense of self. Counseling and the support of others have proven very helpful and can hasten your recovery. You need not go through the aftermath of sexual assault alone. Counseling & Consultation Services is open weekdays from 8 am to 5 pm during the school year, and from 8:00 am to 4:30 noon in June and July. If needed, emergency sessions can be arranged for a same day appointment.

Some Things Men And Women Should Know

"Acquaintance Rape" is the act of forcing sex on a date or acquaintance, and is by far the most common form of sexual violence on college campuses. In Michigan, sexual contact without consent is defined as “Criminal Sexual Conduct.” Sexual contact, including touching, through force or coercion or with a victim who is helpless or mentally incapacitated is sexual conduct punishable by imprisonment and/or fine.

Some Facts About Acquaintance Rape

Every year, an estimated one in eight woman in college will be sexually assaulted, although many will not use that term to describe their experience. A recent survey of 6,104 students at thirty-three United States colleges indicated that fifteen percent of the college women surveyed had been sexually assaulted, according to the strict legal definition. In eighty-five percent of these assaults, the women knew their attacker. Not only have college women been victims of sexual violence: five percent of the men in the study reported having been threatened or forced to have sex.

An acquaintance rape will often not involve the use of weapons. Instead, the acquaintance rapist uses threats, coercion, physical strength, or authority to intimidate or overpower. Victims of acquaintance rape often report that they initially trusted and liked their assailant, not recognizing the assailant’s intent to rape until it was too late to get help.

Frequently, women who have been forced or coerced to have sexual contact do not report the experience to police or authorities. If women do tell someone, they are more likely to confide in a friend or a roommate. Men are even less likely to report forced sexual contact.

There are many reasons acquaintance rape occurs. One is the myth that when women say no to sex they don't really mean it. Another is that some people have learned that it is acceptable to use force to get sex, especially if they believe that they are unlikely to be held accountable for their actions. Finally, many acquaintance rapes are characterized by unclear or unheard communications, differences in expectations, and consumption of alcohol or other drugs by one or both parties.

In recent years, cultural stereotypes and cultural climate alike are changing. Both men and women are learning that acquaintance rape, just like “stranger rape,” is sexual violence and is intolerable in civilized communities. Both men and women are learning that sexual activity which is not fully consensual by both parties is harmful, degrading to the human spirit, and is against the law. Unfortunately, this shift in attitude is still far from universal.

Only rapists are accountable for acts of sexual violence. However, the following suggestions are offered to help all members of the campus community to understand the scope of the problem and to offer new ways of thinking about some very old issues.

Be aware of date rape drugs

Stay Aware and Alert! Do not accept drinks from anyone you don't know well enough to be sure of their trustworthiness. Do not leave your drink unattended. If you are accepting a drink, make sure it is in an unopened container and that you open it yourself. Do not allow anyone you don't know well to escort you home if you are under the influence of any substance. Call your friends or family and ask them to take you home. 

Information And Suggestions For Both Men And Women

  1. Spend time thinking and discussing the role that you want sex to play, if any, in your life right now. If past sexual experiences have been troubling or if you have questions about the role of sex in your life, you may wish to seek out someone you can trust (a friend, relative, minister, advisor, or counselor) and talk out your thoughts and feelings.
  2. Communicate your expectations clearly, while sober and allow your date/partner to do the same. If you assume that you know what your date/partner really wants, thinks and feels, even though s/he says the opposite - you are courting disaster.
  3. Both men and women have the same rights to initiate contact and to set limits that will be respected. Building a relationship requires two people working together as equals and mutual agreement as to the role sex will play in their relationship.
  4. Both men and women sometimes feel pressure to be sexually active. Think for yourself; as with any serious decision, you are the one who will have to live with the consequences.
  5. If you use alcohol, use it in moderation. Alcohol and other drugs decrease inhibitions, lead to impulsive behavior, and interfere with rational thought. In most reported acquaintance rape cases both the man and woman have been drinking. If you decide that sex is right for the two of you--it can wait for another day when you can talk about it with a clear head.
  6. Sexual aggression does happen and can happen to you. If it does, don’t keep silent. Talk to someone about what happened. There are people here who care. A list of campus and community helping resources appears at the end of this booklet.

Information And Suggested Values For Men To Promote

  1. Trust that “no” always means “no.” It is NEVER permissible to force yourself on a partner, even if you believe s/he is leading you on. If your partner says “no”, respect that person's right to control his/her own body. Recognize that you must take responsibility for yours.
  2. If you are not absolutely certain that sexual activity is mutually agreed upon, WAIT. Waiting is always an option.
  3. If you have sex without your partner's consent, you are committing a crime even if you have had sex with this person previously. Remember, your partner, like you, can decide to change his/her mind at any time, and you must respect that decision.
  4. Some men in our culture have learned the attitude that the purpose of a date is to “score” or “get laid,” and that they have somehow failed if a date ends without some sexual activity. Be alert to such cultural baggage in yourself. It can interfere with your ability to listen and be responsive to your date’s limits and wants.
  5. A woman who has had sex with others is not asking to have sex. A woman who wears what could be considered to be provocative or revealing clothing is not asking, and certainly does not deserve to be raped.
  6. Spending money on a partner does not mean one is entitled to sex. It is insulting and manipulative to expect sexual favors as a “repayment.”
  7. It is criminal sexual assault to have sex with a person who is intoxicated, under the influence of other drugs, unconscious, or otherwise physically helpless or mentally incapacitated, i.e. in other words, not capable of giving consent.
  8. The consequences for being convicted of criminal sexual conduct are very heavy and long lasting. The result can be long prison terms, expulsion from the University, a serious and lifelong obstacle to employment, having to report rape conviction to prospective employers.
  9. Remember that men also can be victimized sexually. If this should happen, the same laws apply and the same help resources are available for men that are available for women who have been victimized.

Information And Suggested Values For Women To Promote

  1. You have the right to set and to reset sexual limits. Your body is your own, and nobody has the right to force you to do something you don’t want to do.
  2. Listen to your feelings and thoughts. Sometimes women have a “sense” that something is wrong, yet fail to act on it. If your date makes comments which display hostility toward women, or insists on making all the decisions, or seems extremely jealous or possessive, this person may not be respectful of your right to refuse sex.
  3. Communicate your limits. You need not apologize for the limits you set. Be firm! If you try not to hurt feelings by hinting in a nice way, your implied “no” may be ignored. It is okay to be direct and firm with someone who is sexually pressuring you, even if it may be difficult to hear. After all, this person is not respecting your feelings.
  5. Educate yourself about men and sex. Many women have been taught by men to believe that a man can not control himself sexually once he reaches a “certain point.” This is simply not true. Many women have also been raised in family environments where daughters are not allowed to say "no." It is important to learn to say "no" to adult males.
  6. If there is any doubt, think twice about going to a man’s room or apartment. Most date rapes occur on the partner’s turf. Be careful about inviting a man into your room or apartment. Some men may interpret this as an invitation to sexual activity.
  7. Until you begin to know a person well, try to arrange the first few dates to be in safe environments, such as public places like movies, dinner, concerts, with another couple, etc.
  8. Heavy petting or removing some of your clothing may confuse your date about what you are willing to do sexually. When you send conflicting messages, the situation becomes more difficult for you and your date/partner to control.

What To Do In Case Of Sexual Assault

If you are threatened with rape by either a stranger or an acquaintance, you will have to use your own best judgment about how to react. Some experts recommend that you make as much noise as possible, but this is helpful only if there are people close by who are able and willing to come to your assistance. Other experts believe that called for help or struggling may simply antagonize or excite a rapist and increase the intent to complete a rape. PRESERVING YOUR LIFE IS THE MOST IMPORTANT GOAL; NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO DURING THE ASSAULT, YOU ARE NOT THE GUILTY PARTY. WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE SEXUALLY ASSAULTED

  1. As soon as you are out of the sexual assault situation, tell someone you can trust - a roommate, friend, resident advisor or resident director, minister, counselor, or rape support team volunteer - someone who can provide emotional support and objectively help you to make a plan.
  2. If the assault occurs on campus, you may call the Counseling and Consultation Services any time during the day at 227 - 2980. If you are calling in the evening you may wish to call the Women's Center Crisis Line at 226 - 6611. If you want to report the incident to the police you may also call Public safety and Police Services at 227-2151. If the assault occurs off campus, call Central Dispatch at 911. Do not change your clothing, bathe or shower. You may wish to have a change of clothing available for later.
  3. The police will call the Counseling and Consultation Services or a member of the Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) for you if you wish. SART Team members are volunteers from the Marquette Women’s Center who have special training and experience in assisting victims through hospital and/or reporting procedures. If the police do not contact Counseling and Consultation Services or a Team member you may request that they do so.
  4. You may seek medical care at any time after unwanted sexual activity without reporting a crime or notifying the police. The police will take you to the hospital for a medical examination. A SART member can accompany you. If you think you might want to prosecute, you are strongly encouraged to have a rape examination for the collection of evidence. The physician will examine you, provide appropriate medical treatment, and talk with you about prevention of venereal disease and pregnancy. If you seek medical care during the hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday you can get assistance from the NMU Health Center.
  5. If you are unsure of how you wish to proceed in the aftermath of sexual assault and wish to talk confidentially about options, you may call the Counseling and Consultation Services any time between 8:00 AM and 5:00 PM on weekdays, or you may call the Women’s Center Crisis Line. Either the CCS counselor or the Sexual Assault Response Team member will be able to help you in dealing with the immediate situation, outline options, and help you plan where to get future help. Whether you seek immediate assistance or choose to wait for a period of time after the assault, counseling can help you deal with the psychological residue and begin the healing process.
  6. If you are dealing with painful memories from a past sexual assault, or wish to talk confidentially about options you have for reporting an assault, or are talking to someone else who has been assaulted, you are welcome to talk with a counselor. The Counseling and Consultation Services on NMU’s campus makes it a priority to respond to sexual assault victims ASAP. At night and on weekends you may call the Women's Center Crisis Line.
  7. In addition to being a violation of the State of Michigan criminal statutes, sexual assault is also a violation of the NMU Student Code. Students who have been sexually assaulted may pursue their complaint through the student judiciary system in addition or in lieu of the criminal court system. The Dean of students can facilitate this process; it can be a good option for those who are unwilling to endure the tedium and discomfort that can be involved in criminal/civil court proceedings, but would like to pursue some action.

To discuss the option of reporting a violation of the Student Code, contact the Office of the Dean of Students. NMU will not tolerate sexual assault in any form. Violations by students pursued through the Office of the Dean of Students can result in expulsion of the offender from NMU, in addition to any criminal sanctions imposed through the criminal justice system.

If you are experiencing an emotional crisis, please do not rely on E-mail for help; please come to the Counseling Center (227-2981) on the top floor of Hedgcock, room 3405. If in doubt, you are welcome to call a counselor to ask if counseling or further personal consultation might be beneficial for your specific concern or situation. All contact with a counselor is confidential; they will educate you about options, but will not pressure you to pursue any of them; your choices will be respected whether you choose to take any further action or not. If you are in crisis and need emergency services after hours, call public safety @ 227-2151.

Policy Concerning Sexual Assault Victims

If you are the victim of a sexual assault which is reported to the University, it is the policy of the University that:

  1. You and the matter you reported will be treated with the greatest concern and seriousness, regardless of your gender or the gender of the suspect.
  2. Your name will not be released to the public or media.
  3. You will be treated with dignity, courtesy, sensitivity, and understanding; you will not be prejudged or blamed for what occurred.
  4. You will be provided with information regarding your options for reporting the sexual assault, and your right to make choices based on this information will be respected.
  5. You will be advised of, and if you desire, assisted in receiving services from University departments and from community service agencies that provide assistance to victims of sexual assault.
  6. University staff will neither coerce you to report a sexual assault, nor prevent or discourage you from reporting a sexual assault to another person or authority.
  7. You will have the opportunity to pursue all legal and/or disciplinary remedies and obtain counseling services without academic penalty by the University (to be accommodated as deemed appropriate by the Office of the Dean of Students on a case by case basis).
  8. If you request, the University staff will take any reasonable steps to prevent unnecessary or unwanted contact or proximity with the suspect.
  9. If you file a complaint with Public Safety, staff from that office will investigate your complaint. You will be notified of victim’s rights and remedies accorded in the Crime Victim’s Rights Act and you will be kept up-to-date on the status of the investigation. If the Health Center provides medical assistance, appropriate methods for preserving evidence of criminal sexual assault will be counseled.
  10. You will be made aware of, and assisted in exercising, any options provided under the law regarding the mandatory testing of sexual assault suspects for communicable diseases and notification to the victim of the results of the testing.

Helping Resources

Counseling and Consultation Services (Hedgcock) 227-2981
Dean of Students (Hedgcock) 227-1700
Health Center (Gries Hall) 227-2355
24 HOUR ASSISTANCE Marquette General Hospital/Emergency Room (420 W. Magnetic) 225-3560
Police N.M.U. Public Safety (100 Services Building) 227-2151
Police Central Dispatch 911
Women’s Center Crisis Line (1310 S. Front) 226-6611
Marquette County Sheriff (West Baraga) 228-8435