If you are a college student and were assaulted on campus by an intimate partner, you are unfortunately not alone.
Remember that you have the right to make choices about what steps you take next. You also have the right to be supported in those choices. If your friends are unwilling or unable to support you in your choices, find someone who will support you. Read on for some ideas.
Many colleges have policies regarding dating violence on campus. Your college may have any of the following:
- Resident staff: As part of their training, resident staff members may have received information on supporting and offering resources to students who have been assaulted (including sexual assaults and other types of physical assaults). If you are concerned about confidentiality, check on their confidentiality policy.
- Student counseling center: You may have access to campus counseling services, which are generally free to students. Ask to speak to a counselor who is particularly experienced in helping students heal from dating violence and/or trauma.
- Dean of Students: If you have difficulty concentrating or fulfilling your academic obligations, the Dean of Students may be able to talk to your instructors about postponing exams or deadlines for papers.
- Sexual assault response team: If you were sexually assaulted by your intimate partner, you may want to consider contacting the college/university sexual assault response team. Teams are usually on-call, and may be contacted by calling the student counseling center, campus police, or a resident staff member. Response teams are particularly knowledgeable about campus resources for sexual assault, including disciplinary options if the perpetrator is a student. They may also be trained in how to respond to other types of dating violence.
- Local domestic violence program or sexual assault crisis center: You are also eligible to use the services of the community domestic violence program or sexual assault crisis center. These programs offer individual counseling, safety planning, support groups, and legal advocacy to help you navigate the legal system. They can also accompany you to the hospital or student health center and provide support and information directly following an assault. All services are free and confidential.
Holding the perpetrator responsible
If you were assaulted by a college student, you have the option of reporting the crime to the local police. If your college has a disciplinary policy that includes dating violence, you also have the option of reporting the assault to college administrators. Most colleges have a wide variety of disciplinary policies in place for students who have been found responsible for committing an assault. These options include:
- A formal hearing by a body of college representative (faculty, administrators, students), which may result in sanctions, such as a reprimand, suspension or expulsion.
- Mediation, in which you and the assailant discuss each of your perspectives on the incident (guided by a professional mediator), and come to a written agreement to which both must adhere.
- Structured meeting, in which you are able to confront your assailant and describe how the assault affected you.
Each college has different policies regarding dating violence. Contact your campus crisis center or the local domestic violence program to find out which options are available on your campus.
* Fisher, S., Cullen, F., Turner, M., 2000. The Sexual Victimization of College Women. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice.