What do I do in the event of sexual assault?
It is the College’s goal to empower individuals who believe they have experienced an incident of sex- or gender-based discrimination or harassment to make the decisions that are best for them. Various campus and community advocates, counselors and emergency first responders are available to offer assistance in this regard. Moreover, seeking assistance and advice promptly from one of these resources may also be important to ensure one’s physical safety or to obtain medical care or other support. It may also be necessary to preserve evidence, which can assist the College and/or law enforcement in responding effectively. Assistance is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Being forced into sexual activity, even if it is a date, a steady relationship or a casual acquaintance, is still a sexual offense. Making decisions and regaining control are important to the healing process after an assault.
Remember, you are not alone, and you are not to blame. Sexual offenses can happen to anyone, regardless of age, gender, race, sexual orientation or socioeconomic status. In the event of sexual assault, Stephens College can offer interim protective measures and assistance to help individuals feel safe and move on with their lives.
Steps to Take
Get to a safe place.
First and foremost, an individual who is the victim of sexual assault, intimate partner violence, stalking or other violent actions is urged to get to a safe place away from the perpetrator or from any other potential danger as soon as possible. Individuals on campus that are not in a safe place should contact the Office of Safety and Security at (573) 876-7299 or local law enforcement at 911 immediately. Individuals off campus should contact local law enforcement at 911 immediately.
Call someone who can help and support you through this process, such as a close friend, a relative, a residential adviser or a rape crisis counselor.
Get medical attention right away.
Even if you do not want to report the event to the police, you may have hidden internal injuries, sexually transmitted infections, or a pregnancy that requires medical care. Having the evidence collected in this manner will help to keep all options available to you, but will not obligate you to any course of action. Collecting evidence can assist the authorities in pursuing criminal charges, should you decide later to choose that option. Medical care, including emergency contraception (a way to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex), is available at local hospital emergency rooms, as well as the Planned Parenthood Columbia Health Center at 711 North Providence Road.
Collecting evidence does not obligate an individual to any particular course of action, but it can assist law enforcement should criminal charges ultimately be pursued. For evidence collection purposes, do not shower, bathe, drink, eat, brush your teeth or hair, smoke, change your clothes or wash your linens. Such activities destroy physical evidence that could be useful in the possible prosecution of the alleged perpetrator. If you have already done so, which is a normal response, you should still seek medical care, as these activities do not necessarily prevent the collection of evidence. If you have changed clothing since the assault, bring the clothing you had on at the time of the assault with you to the hospital in a clean, sanitary container such as a clean paper grocery bag or wrapped in a clean sheet (plastic containers do not breathe, and may render evidence useless). If you have not changed clothes, bring a change of clothes with you to the hospital, if possible, as they will likely keep the clothes you are wearing as evidence. Victims are also urged to photograph visible injuries. Pictures of injuries should be taken in both close-up and wide-angle formats.
Consider contacting campus or community resources.
This could include the Counseling Center, (573) 876-7157 or Ex. 4157. Counseling services are available 24 hours a day on an emergency basis. Campus Security also is available to assist you, and may be reached by calling (573) 876-7299 or Ext. 4299. True North provides emergency shelter, counseling and advocacy services for victims of intimate partner violence and sexual assault. They can be reached at (573) 875-1370 or (800) 548-2480 or truenorthofcolumbia.org
Consider Contacting Law Enforcement
If you go to the hospital, law enforcement will automatically be called, but you are under no obligation to speak with them. The Columbia Police Department can be reached by calling 911 or (573) 874-7652 or an online crime report can be submitted at como.gov/police
. Write down everything that you remember. Even if a detail seems minute to you, it may be important. Sometimes victims of sexual assault will remain quiet for weeks, months or years before coming forward with an assault. If you have suffered harm and have been silent, seeking support from someone you can trust and feel comfortable with is important. Stephens College encourages you to talk to somebody in order to get the support you need.
How do I report?
Report to Stephens College
Report to Law Enforcement
- Emergency Services – Dial 911
- Columbia Police Department Non-Emergency Dispatch – Dial 311 or (573) 442-6131
- Columbia Police Front Desk – (573) 874-7652
- Boone County Sheriff – (573) 875-1111
Where Do I Get Help?
Resources available to you include: