Sexual Assault

Whether you are a parent, professor, administrator, student, coworker, or friend—you can make a difference in someone’s life by noticing the warning signs of sexual assault and abusive relationships. Sexual violence, like many other crimes, can occur on college campuses and at locations frequented by college students.

It’s not easy to come forward

In eight out of 10 cases of sexual assault, the perpetrator is someone the victim knows.1 This can make it more difficult for someone to be open about sexual assault, particularly if the perpetrator is part of a friend group, a classmate, or someone who is well liked by other peers. No matter who the alleged perpetrator is, the survivor deserves support and care.

Whether you are a parent, professor, administrator, student, coworker, or friend—you can make a difference in someone’s life by noticing the warning signs of sexual assault and abusive relationships. Sexual violence, like many other crimes, can occur on college campuses and at locations frequented by college students.

It’s not easy to come forward

In eight out of 10 cases of sexual assault, the perpetrator is someone the victim knows.1 This can make it more difficult for someone to be open about sexual assault, particularly if the perpetrator is part of a friend group, a classmate, or someone who is well liked by other peers. No matter who the alleged perpetrator is, the survivor deserves support and care.

Warning signs that a college-age adult may have been sexually assaulted

Some of the warning signs for sexual assault in college-age adults may be caused by events that are unrelated, such as being away from home for the first time. It’s better to ask and be wrong than to let the person you care about struggle with the effects of sexual assault. You can ask questions that point to a specific person or time like, “Did something happen with the person you met at the party the other night?” You can also simply reaffirm that you will believe them when they are ready to come forward, and that it’s not their fault.

If you notice these warning signs in a college-age adult, it’s worth reaching out to them:

  • Signs of depression, such as persistent sadness, lack of energy, changes in sleep or appetite, withdrawing from normal activities, or feeling “down”
  • Self-harming behaviors, thoughts of suicide, or suicidal behaviors
  • Low self-esteem
  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
  • Anxiety or worry about situations that did not seem to cause anxiety in the past
  • Avoiding specific situations or places
  • Falling grades or withdrawing from classes
  • Increase in drug or alcohol use

The majority of sexual assaults are committed by someone the victim knows, such as a friend, family member, acquaintance, or partner.1 Often, abusive partners will try to cut the victim off from their support system. As someone outside of the relationship, you have the potential to notice warning signs that someone may be in an abusive relationship or at risk for sexual assault.

Some warning signs include:

  • Withdrawing from other relationships or activities, for example, spending less time with friends, leaving sports teams, or dropping classes
  • Saying that their partner doesn’t want them to engage in social activities or is limiting their contact with others
  • Disclosing that sexual assault has happened before
  • Any mention of a partner trying to limit their contraceptive options or refusing to use safer sexual practices, such as refusing to use condoms or not wanting them to use birth control
  • Mentioning that their partner is pressuring them to do things that make them uncomfortable
  • Signs that a partner controlling their means of communication, such as answering their phone or text messages or intruding into private conversations
  • Visible signs of physical abuse, such as bruises or black eyes

College-age adults may also experience sexual harassment or other unwanted behaviors through technology and online interactions. Some people use technology—such as digital photos, videos, apps, and social media—to engage in harassing, unsolicited, or non-consensual sexual interactions. It can leave the person on the other end feeling manipulated, unsafe, and exposed, like when someone forwards a text, photo, or “sext” intended only for the original recipient. The laws pertaining to these situations vary from state to state and platform to platform, and they are evolving rapidly. Learn more about the ways people use technology to hurt others.

Remember, you are not alone. If you suspect sexual abuse you can talk to someone who is trained to help. Call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673) or chat online at online.rainn.org.

It’s not always easy to know what to say when someone tells you they’ve been sexually assaulted, especially if they are a friend or family member. For a survivor, disclosing to someone they care about can be very difficult, so we encourage you to be as supportive and non-judgmental as possible.

Sometimes support means providing resources, such as how to reach the National Sexual Assault Hotline, seek medical attention, or report the crime to the police. But often listening is the best way to support a survivor.

Here are some specific phrases RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Hotline staff recommend to be supportive through a survivor’s healing process.

“I believe you. / It took a lot of courage to tell me about this.” It can be extremely difficult for survivors to come forward and share their story. They may feel ashamed, concerned that they won’t be believed, or worried they’ll be blamed. Leave any “why” questions or investigations to the experts—your job is to support this person. Be careful not to interpret calmness as a sign that the event did not occur—everyone responds to traumatic events differently. The best thing you can do is to believe them.

“It’s not your fault. / You didn’t do anything to deserve this.” Survivors may blame themselves, especially if they know the perpetrator personally. Remind the survivor, maybe even more than once, that they are not to blame.

“You are not alone. / I care about you and am here to listen or help in any way I can.” Let the survivor know that you are there for them and willing to listen to their story if they are comfortable sharing it. Assess if there are people in their life they feel comfortable going to, and remind them that there are service providers who will be able to support them as they heal from the experience.

“I’m sorry this happened. / This shouldn’t have happened to you.” Acknowledge that the experience has affected their life. Phrases like “This must be really tough for you,” and, “I’m so glad you are sharing this with me,” help to communicate empathy.

Continued Support

There’s no timetable when it comes to recovering from sexual violence. If someone trusted you enough to disclose the event to you, consider the following ways to show your continued support.

  • Avoid judgment. It can be difficult to watch a survivor struggle with the effects of sexual assault for an extended period of time. Avoid phrases that suggest they’re taking too long to recover such as, “You’ve been acting like this for a while now,” or “How much longer will you feel this way?”
  • Check in periodically. The event may have happened a long time ago, but that doesn’t mean the pain is gone. Check in with the survivor to remind them you still care about their well-being and believe their story.
  • Know your resources. You’re a strong supporter, but that doesn’t mean you’re equipped to manage someone else’s health. Become familiar with resources you can recommend to a survivor, such as the National Sexual Assault Hotline 800.656.HOPE (4673) and online.rainn.org, y en español a rainn.org/es.

If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual violence, it’s not your fault. You are not alone. Help is available 24/7 through the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE or visit the Online Hotline, y en español a rainn.org/es.

 

Source: https://www.rainn.org/

Confidential resource, on-campus

RMC/ JSU Student Health Center​

1701 Pelham Road South, Jacksonville, Alabama​

256.782.5310​

www.jsu.edu/studenthealth​

  • Pregnancy testing​
  • STI screening​
  • Referrals to other resources 

JSU Student Counseling Services​

On-call counselor 24/7, contact UPD to access​
147 Trustee Circle​
256.782.5475​

www.jsu.edu/ccservices

Giselle Sharp is the victim and survivor counselor working especially with students who have experienced sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking.


Confidential resource, off-campus

2ndChance, Inc. 

  • 24-hour crisis hotline for domestic and sexual violence survivors​
  • Emergency shelter​
  • Forensic exam support and advocacy in local Emergency Department​
  • Court and legal advocacy​
  • Support groups and holistic wellness activities for survivors and their support systems​
  • Counseling services​
  • Assistance with pets​
  • And more!​​

Crisis Line: 256.236.7233​
Administration Office: 256.236.7381​

2ndchance.org​

  • Rape Response Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) Facility​
  • Specially trained to handle sexual assault cases​
  • Offers exams 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.​
  • Free of charge​

Birmingham, Alabama​
205.323.7273​
crisiscenterbham.org/rape-response.php​ 


Private resource, on-campus 

Title IX Office​

Oversees the university’s centralized review, investigation, and resolution of reports of sexual misconduct, sex-based discrimination, or sex-based harassment (including incidents of sexual assault, stalking, dating violence, and domestic violence).​

Coordinates supportive measures

Jasmin Nunez
700 Pelham Road North​
Angle Hall, Suite 301-A​
Jacksonville, Alabama 36265​
256.782.5769​
titleix@jsu.edu

University Police Department (UPD)​

Salls Hall 700 Pelham Road North​
Jacksonville, Alabama 36265​
256.782.5050​
jsu.edu/police​

​Call UPD if you need to access a counselor after-hours, UPD will connect you ​