Sexual assault is a primary concern on today’s college campuses. A sexual assault occurs when someone touches another person’s body in a sexual way without that person’s consent, even if it occurs through their clothes. It can happen to individuals of any age, gender, race, cultural background, socioeconomic status, or sexual orientation. While sexual assault is usually portrayed as an issue for women, men may also be the victims of sexual assault. While statistically not as frequent, women can also be perpetrators of a sexual assault. And sexual assaults can also occur between same sex individuals.
Drexel University recognizes the importance of this issue, and has a clearly defined Sexual Harrassment and Misconduct Policy [PDF]. The policy, as listed in the Student Handbook, defines sexual assault as:
Any unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favors, or other unwelcome verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:
- Submission to or rejection of such conduct is made, either explicitly or implicitly, a term or condition of an individual’s employment, evaluation of academic work or participation in social or extracurricular activities;
- Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for decisions affecting the individual; or
- Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work or academic performance by creating an intimidating, hostile, humiliating, demeaning, or sexually offensive working, academic or social environment. The effect will be evaluated based on the perspective of a reasonable person in the position of a Complainant.
What to do if you have been sexually assaulted
- Immediately contact the Department of Public Safety at 215.895.2222. You may also dial 911.
- Contact a close friend or relative for support. If you live on-campus, you may also contact your Resident Assistant for help.
- Do NOT bathe, shower, or clean up the crime scene. While this may be difficult, it is important to preserve any potential evidence if you decide to press charges.
- Seek medical attention immediately. A representative from Drexel University will accompany you to the Philadelphia Sexual Assault Response Center (PSARC) located next to the Philadelphia Police Special Victims Unit (SVU) at 100 E. Lehigh Ave. in East Kensington. The mission of the PSARC is to provide medical care and forensic examinations to victims of sexual assault in a private and personal setting designed to minimize stress or further trauma to the victim. PSARC has specially trained nurses on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week who will perform a rape exam, collect evidence, and provide advice and counseling referrals to victims of rape and sexual violence.
The PSARC on-call response is activated through the Philadelphia Police Special Victims Unit.
PSARC can be reached at 215.425.1625 or victims can also call SVU at 215.685.3250, 215.685.3251 or 215.685.3252 for additional advice and direction.
Transportation is available through Drexel Public Safety.
- Remember that you are not alone!
How to help someone who has been sexually assaulted
Whomever you come into contact with first, whether it is the victim/survivor or someone from his or her support system, remember to actively listen to the situation they describe to you. Here are some key points to keep in mind:
- Believe him or her. Regardless of who is involved, it is important the incident is taken seriously and not minimized.
- Accept what you hear without judgment, let the story run its course, and avoid “why” questions or making the person feel defensive (i.e.: “Why were you drinking or on drugs?” or “Why were you at that party?” or “Why were you with that person?”)
- Let the person maintain their personal space and do not hold or touch them without their permission.
- Offer comfort. Remain calm, reassuring and maintain your own emotional composure. If the person is agitated, suggest that they take a few deep breaths, but do not tell them how to act or feel.
- Know your personal limits. If you feel uncomfortable or “in over your head,” express this in your active listening feedback and refer the person to one of the resources available (Campus Public Safety, Counseling Center). Do not contact these resources yourself without the person’s permission to do so.
- Maintain a safe place for the victim/survivor and others involved. Help to find a secure place for him or her to sleep or stay, and find someone to stay with the victim/survivor if he or she does not want to be alone.
- Allow the person to take ownership of his or her feelings, regardless of what they are. Do not downplay what they are feeling. Let the person talk out feelings of self-blame and help them to understand it is the perpetrator who caused the attack and not him or her.
- Recommend the victim/survivor seek medical attention, preserve evidence (he or she should not shower, change clothes, eat or smoke, and leave the crime scene intact), and/or call a hotline for advice. Do NOT get angry if the victim/survivor is reluctant to take this advice.
- If the person in the victim/survivor’s support system approaches you and the victim/survivor will not talk to you, do not get angry or be offended. Offer support to the person who approached you, and understand that not talking might be one way the victim/survivor feels a sense of regaining control of the situation.
- If you are in a situation where the offender is within close proximity, do not attempt to confront the offender on your own or take on a situation that you are not equipped to handle. Leave it to the proper authorities.
Acquaintance rape and sex are difficult topics to talk about no matter who is doing the talking and no matter who you are talking to. Just because these are difficult topics to talk about doesn't mean there is something wrong about talking about them or that we shouldn't talk about them. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Studying for exams is difficult as is exercising. Just because it is hard to lift pounds of iron weight above your head when working out doesn't mean we should stop doing it. This is where the expression, "No pain no gain" comes from. Talking about sex and what can happen when two people aren't honest with themselves or each other can only bring us closer together.
What is acquaintance rape (also known as non-stranger rape)?
Acquaintance rape is non-consensual sexual intercourse by a friend or acquaintance. There are some important points about this definition:
- Non-consensual — It is without agreement
- Force is not necessarily involved
- If someone is unable to give consent or does not agree to have sexual intercourse it is considered rape. (i.e. if someone is asleep or "passed-out")
Please be aware, men may also be victims of rape or sexual assault. Rape and sexual assault can and do occur in same sex relationships as well as opposite sex relationships, and women can also be perpetrators of an assault.
- Approximately one in four college aged women is acquaintance raped or experiences an attempted acquaintance rape during her college years.
- Eighty-four percent of women who have been acquaintance raped knew their attackers.
- Women between the ages of 16-24 are four times more likely to be acquaintance raped than any other age group.
- Approximately 90% of acquaintance rapes happen with alcohol involved.
- In one study, approximately 33% of men said that if they could escape acquaintance rape without detection that they would rape someone.
- Forty-two percent of women who are acquaintance raped do not tell anyone at all about it.
- Twenty-seven percent of women who were acquaintance raped did not realize that what happened met the legal definition of acquaintance rape.
- Eighty-four percent of men who were involved in an acquaintance rape did not realize that what they did met the legal definition of acquaintance rape.
- Forty-four percent of women who have been acquaintance raped have considered suicide.
Campus and Community Resources
- Drexel University Public Safety
- Counseling Center
215.895.1415 during business hours
215.416.3337 for after-hour emergencies
- Student Health Center
- Office of Equality and Diversity (Title IX resource page)
- Violence Against Women Consortium
Check out the consortium website for information regarding the grant, our partners, and the issue of violence against women
- Women Organized Against Rape provides telephone counseling, crisis intervention, emergency room counseling, follow-up, referrals, court companions, advocacy, education, training, and literature. 24-hour Hotline: 215.985.3333
The content provided here is intended for informational purposes only. It is not intended for self-diagnosis or self-treatment, nor should it replace the consultation of a trained medical or mental health professional. Please note that outside links are not under our control, and we cannot guarantee the content contained on them.