Rape Survivors: What You Can Do
The University seeks to make sure survivors of rape are cared for physically, psychologically, and spiritually. Survivors have many decisions to make after an assault, including whether to tell anyone, whether to go the hospital, and/or whether to file a judicial and/or police report. It can be difficult to make these decisions after having endured a trauma. At Fordham, trained professionals are standing by to offer support and guidance to survivors.
1) Remain calm and call for help. After an attack, the rape survivor should try to remain as calm as possible in order to think clearly. Find a safe place and get help from someone you trust. Any of the following resources could be called upon for assistance: the Fordham University safety and security department, the health center, the counseling center, and a resident director/ assistant. A staff member of the same gender will be available to respond at all times. Please refer to the resource list in this brochure for important telephone numbers.
2) Do not change, shower, or destroy any clothing. A rape survivor should remain in the same condition as when the attacker left. This means: not changing, washing, or destroying any clothing; not washing any part of the body; not douching; and not combing one’s hair. The survivor should also leave the crime scene exactly as it is, not touching anything and/or not cleaning up or throwing anything away. The reason this is advisable is that the survivor may wish to prosecute the perpetrator at a later time. While this may be difficult to do emotionally, sometimes survivors later wish that they had this critical evidence to admit in court.
3) Seek immediate medical attention. It is strongly recommended that the rape survivor get medical attention as soon as possible using the resources listed in the back of this brochure. At Rose Hill, the Fordham University Emergency Medical Service (FUEMS) is available 24 hours a day and can be contacted by calling the Office of Safety and Security at (718) 817-2222. Ambulance services at Lincoln Center are provided by FASTcare, and can be secured by contacting the security office at (212) 930-8888.
At Rose Hill, the Fordham University Emergency Medical Service (FUEMS) is available 24 hours a day and can be contacted by calling security at (718) 817-2222. An emergency medical technician (EMT) will be on duty along with other student volunteers who will transport and accompany the survivor to the hospital. They will also explain and assist the rape survivor through the initial medical treatment procedures. If necessary and requested by the survivor, alternate arrangements can be made through the Fordham University Office of Safety and Security. At the survivor’s request, a friend, a member of the residential life staff, or a nurse from the health center may also accompany him or her to the hospital.
At Lincoln Center, ambulance services are provided by FASTcare, which can be secured by contacting the Office of Safety and Security at (212) 930-8888.
At the Westchester campus, ambulance services can be secured by contacting the security office at (914) 367-3333.
At the hospital, internal and external injuries will be treated, and measures can be taken to test for and deal with the possibilities of sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy. A hospital visit is necessary to collect evidence, through a rape examination, in the event that criminal charges will be filed. A rape survivor can request a sexual assault nurse examiner (SANE) to be present; these nurses are specially trained to treat survivors of sexual assault and, if desired, to collect evidence through a rape examination. A victim advocate can also be called upon to support the survivor and assist in making decisions.
A rape examination allows evidence to be collected in case a rape survivor wishes to prosecute, even at a later time. The examination, however, must be conducted within 72 hours of the incident and includes: pelvic examination and testing for the presence of semen; sexually transmitted disease testing;and treatment for possible infection, which may involve antibiotics. In order for medical treatment to be provided, the survivor need only consent to the medical examination. In most cases, the hospital will document and store evidence for a specified time period. The survivor is not required to report the incident to the police. However, depending on the hospital you go to, the hospital may be required to report an incident of sexual assault to the local police agency. In certain cases, the University must notify local law enforcement as required by New York State law. The police will respond and investigate the allegation. The rape survivor makes the decision on whether or not they wish to bring criminal charges against the offender. The hospital never refuses services, but they are required to bill your insurance company. The survivor should bring his/her student ID.
4) Document details about the incident. It is advisable for the rape survivor to write down every detail about the incident that they can remember. Not only can this assist in filing judicial or criminal charges (even at a later time), but it can also aid in recollection that may assist in the healing process. The survivor should note:
• The “who, what, when, where, and how” of the incident.
• What the perpetrator looks like, any identifying marks or scars and any vehicle used.
• What kind of force or coercion was used.
• Any objects touched, taken, or left by the perpetrator.
• If the perpetrator said anything, the survivor should try to remember the words, the grammar, any accents or speech defects.
• If there were possible witnesses, document who and where they may be.
The rape survivor is encouraged to bring this information to the attention of the safety and security office and/or the dean of students who can help ensure survivor and community safety, connect the rape survivor with care, and assist in the process of filing a judicial or police report. If the New York City or Harrison Police Departments are to be involved and criminal charges filed, the above information is crucial.
5) Follow-up treatment. For many rape survivors, the time following the rape or any sexual trauma is painful and confusing. Psychological and/or spiritual counseling can assist with
coping in the aftermath of an assault. Even after the actual incident, survivors may suffer from acute stress that may include a range of difficulties such as nightmares, flashbacks, numbness, and withdrawal from friends and family. In addition, survivors sometimes blame themselves; feel upset about the reactions of their friends or family; feel ashamed, confused, and/or angry about what has happened; and/or question their core beliefs. While these responses are normal and understandable, they can be difficult for some survivors to manage alone. Many find solace in sharing their story in a supportive and private context. It is also possible to learn new coping skills to facilitate a return to activities that the person finds meaningful and important.
Counseling and Psychological Services has mental health professionals available to assist survivors of sexual assault. All services are confidential. The resident directors and resident assistants are also available to provide follow-up referral information and support. Chaplains at the Office of Campus Ministry are also available to speak to survivors.
Updated: August 23, 2012