Rape Survivors: What You Can Do

The University seeks to make sure survivors of rape are cared for physically, psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually. Survivors have many decisions to make after an assault, including whether to tell anyone, whether to go to the hospital, or whether to file a public safety report or a police report or both. 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. Collect Your Thoughts, Take a Breath and Call for Help. After an attack, 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 can be called upon for assistance: the Fordham University Department of Public Safety, a resident director, a resident assistant, a commuter assistant, the health center, and/or the counseling center. A staff member of the same gender will be available to respond at all times, if that is the preference of the rape survivor. Please refer to the resource list beginning on page 22 of this brochure for important telephone numbers.
  2. Do Not Change, Shower, or Destroy Any Clothing. It is important to 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 or cleaning up or throwing anything away. While this may be difficult to do emotionally, it is advisable because the survivor may wish to prosecute the perpetrator at a later time, and will want as much of this critical evidence as possible 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 Department of Public Safety 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 Department of Public Safety. At the survivor’s request, a friend, a member of the residential life staff, a nurse from the health center, or another staff member may also accompany them to the hospital.

At Lincoln Center, ambulance services can be secured by contacting the Department of Public Safety at 212-636-6076.

At the Westchester campus, ambulance services can be secured by contacting the Department of Public Safety 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 possibility 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. Please see the CARE Resources list (beginning on page 22 of this booklet) for information as to which hospitals have SANE programs.

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 where you are being treated, the hospital may be required to report an incident of sexual assault to the local police. 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 their student ID.

  1. 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 student conduct 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 following:
    • The “who, what, when, where, and how” of the incident.
    • What the perpetrator looks like, any identifying marks or scars, and a description of any vehicle used.
    • What kind of force or coercion was used.
    • Any objects touched, taken, or left by the perpetrator.
    • Anything the perpetrator said, including the words, the grammar, any accents, or speech defects.
    • Any possible witnesses, including who and where they may be.

The rape survivor is encouraged to bring this information to the attention of Public Safety 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 student conduct 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.

  1. Follow-Up Treatment. For many sexual assault survivors, the time following the sexual trauma can be 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 experience various post-traumatic symptoms, including nightmares; flashbacks; emotional numbness; sleep or concentration difficulties; hyper-vigilance; recurrent and intrusive thoughts; and avoidance of social, recreational, work, or academic activities. In addition, survivors sometimes blame themselves; feel upset about the reactions of their friends or family; feel ashamed, confused, or angry about what has happened; and 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 confidential professional setting. 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 licensed mental health professionals who are available and trained to assist survivors of sexual assault, and all services are free and confidential to the extent of the law. Pastoral counselors in the Office of Campus Ministry are also available to speak to survivors, and their services are free and confidential. Medical providers in University Health Services are available to speak with survivors, and their services are free and confidential. The resident directors and resident assistants are also available to provide follow-up referral information and support.

Alcohol and/or Drug Use Amnesty Policy

A reporting individual acting in good faith or a bystander acting in good faith that discloses any incident of sexual or related misconduct to Fordham officials or law enforcement will not be subject to adjudication under Fordham University’s Code of Conduct for violations of alcohol and/or drug use policies occurring at or near the time of the commission of the sexual or related misconduct.

The health and safety of every student at Fordham University is of utmost importance. Fordham University recognizes that students who have been drinking and/or using recreational/illicit drugs (whether such use is voluntary or involuntary) at the time that violence, including but not limited to domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, or sexual assault, occurs may be hesitant to report such incidents due to fear of potential consequences for their own conduct. Fordham University strongly encourages students to report sexual and related misconduct to institution officials.

All reported incidents are centrally tracked in order to be reviewed for patterns and to assist in stopping the recurrence of similar incidents.

Updated: 8/18/23