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Additional Information Regarding Sexual or Domestic Misconduct

Victims

Many resources are available on campus and in the community for victims of sexual or domestic misconduct and gender-based discrimination.

If you are or someone else is in imminent danger, call 911.

All victims of sexual assault have a right, under West Virginia law, to have a forensic medical examination and evidence kit collected after the assault in order to preserve any evidence of the assault. The nurse can also provide emergency contraception, treatment for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and other needed medical care.

Even if you are not sure that you want to file a police report, it can be helpful to have any available evidence collected in case you decide to file a report with law enforcement at a later date.

Ruby Memorial Hospital and West Virginia University will waive the cost of the medical examination for students.

You can obtain a forensic exam and evidence kit at:

WVU RUBY MEMORIAL HOSPITAL
1 Medical Center Dr.
Morgantown, WV 26506

Friends

When a survivor comes out about having been sexually assaulted or abused by an intimate partner — whether it be their first time telling anyone or their hundredth — recognize that the process can be extremely difficult and that you should be as supportive as possible. When a victim comes out to you, remember that they have chosen to trust you with a part of themselves. Respect this.

DOs and DON’Ts for When a Survivor Comes Out to You about Sexual Assault

For a lot of people, the idea of supporting someone who has endured sexual or dating violence is scary, often not because they don’t want to be supportive, but because they are not sure what say or how to respond. Here are a few pointers.

DOs:

  • Put them at ease. That doesn’t mean you can make the pain go away or that they shouldn’t be crying or upset or showing whatever emotion they are showing. It does mean letting them know that you hear what they are saying and that you are emotionally open to them. Let them know that you are there for them and receptive to what they are saying.
  • Express anger and sadness at their injustice.
  • Validate their feelings about the experience, acknowledging pain without catastrophizing. If they start to minimize what has happened to them, let them know that you believe them and that there is no need to minimize what happened to them. What they went through is understandably very painful. Something survivors will often do is express that they feel that they shouldn’t “complain” about having been raped, particularly if they are privileged in other aspects of their life, such as education or socio-economic status. Let them know that rape is not a way to balance out the other good things they may have in life. Another way a survivor might minimize the abuse is by saying that since sexual violence is common, it’s “not that big of a deal.” Remind them that statistics don’t take away from the hurt or pain they are experiencing.
  • At the same time, remember that while sexual abuse is always inexcusable, it isn’t always traumatic. Sometimes sexual abuse is earth-shattering for a victim; sometimes it’s a disturbing but small bump in the road. Just as you shouldn’t minimize the assault, don’t catastrophize either. Stay attune to the survivors’ attitude and don’t assume or dictate how she or he must feel.
  • Express admiration for their courage and recognize how difficult this must have been for them. Tell them how genuinely impressed you are by their resiliency and recognize that this must be very difficult, but that they can find support in you and others.
  • Be strong and take care of yourself. The survivor you know is suffering and they have probably reached out to you for assurance and support; give them exactly that! It’s because of strong and supportive friends and family that many of us have survived the process of recovery from sexual assault. You’ll be better able to respond to the survivors’ needs, though, if you also take care of yourself. Secondary trauma is real, and you should — while respecting the survivors’ confidentiality — turn to your own support system and be realistic about how much you can provide.

Do NOT:

  • Question the validity of the victim’s claims. A victim’s worst fear is not being believed. Having someone question whether or not a person was actually violated, assaulted, or raped is a huge insult that can shake a survivor to his or her core. They have decided to trust you with a very personal story and they count on your support. Doubting the validity of their claims will only cause them more pain. Also, remember that over 92-98% of REPORTED rapes are not false reports. If they choose to report, many others will be skeptical — you can leave that job to police, school administrators, rape culture, etc.
  • Seem cold or unapproachable. If you do this, the survivor may feel like they have no right to talk about what has happened to them. They may feel confused and lost as they struggle to reconcile a dismissive attitude towards their struggle with their own pain. Don’t make this situation more difficult than it needs to be for them. Open yourself up to them and make your presence and support known.
  • Make excuses for the perpetrator. The assailant’s actions are inexcusable. Don’t suggest that the survivor approach the assailant to make sense of what happened or to “clear the air.” Don’t suggest a simple apology will remedy the problem.
  • Tell the survivor what they must do. You can suggest what course of action they can take, particularly if they ask for your advice. Suggest resources they may use or offer to explore resources available to them, such as filing a report with law enforcement, talking with an attorney, seeking out therapy or medical aid, and talking to a rape hotline.
  • Minimize the assault. Remember that one kind of rape or assault — by a stranger, an acquaintance, a friend, a partner — isn’t more or less “legitimate” than another. Don’t anticipate the ways in which a particular type of violence will affect a survivor, and don’t expect that one is necessarily more traumatic than another.
  • Question why the survivor has decided to tell you now, even if it has been months or years since the assault.
  • Shoulder the burden alone. A survivor may demand more of you than you are able to give. You are probably not trained to manage a survivor’s recovery and may be emotionally exhausted. Be kind and honest with the victim about what you are able to do and encourage him or her to seek professional help through a hotline or therapist.
  • Share the survivor’s story without his or her permission.

Because you are a friend to the victim, you are in a special relationship with the survivor and may need to keep some other guidelines in mind.

Be there for the victim in the capacity they need. This may mean listening to them recount the experience or going out for a fun dinner to take their mind off of the event. Make sure to respond to your friend’s needs and, if he or she is uncommunicative, to gently remind them that you are available. Remember, though, that you don’t have to support your friend alone. Encourage your friend to seek professional help of the kind you are untrained to provide.

Being told that your friend’s assailant is an acquaintance or mutual friend can be extremely difficult. However, remember that your friend has probably struggled with this idea a lot before coming to you and that you still have a responsibility as a friend to be supportive in light of their pain. When your friend seems ready, ask him or her how she would like you to behave toward their assailant. Respect that decision.

Anonymous Resources

If you wish to speak to someone anonymously, please call the Title IX On-Call Line at 304-906-9930. Someone is available to take your call 24 hours a day.

While the staff who answer the Title IX On-Call line serve as anonymous resources for all students, faculty and staff, please note that under most circumstances they cannot discuss specific cases with third parties – such as friends and family – due to the students’ rights under FERPA.

Other Resources

  • In addition, family members and friends of survivors are welcome to use the RAINN phone hotline and online hotline, as well as seek counseling through rape crisis centers at 1-800-656-HOPE or ohl.rainn.org/online/
  • Pandora’s Aquarium. There is also a forum within this site for secondary survivors to discuss how to best help survivors and take care of themselves.
  • “What to Say if Your Best Friends Tells You She Was Rape” at xoJane

Parents

It can be particularly hard to hear that your loved one has been sexually assaulted. Be prepared to be more closely involved with your family member’s recovery than others, as the survivor may need help financially for therapy, transportation, or someone to talk to regularly. However, also remember that for some survivors, it’s easier to talk to friends than family about sexual violence. Don’t take this as a judgment on your relationship. Respond to the survivor’s needs, but don’t impose your assistance.

It’s often especially hard for survivors to tell parents about violence because it often involves an acknowledgement of sexual relationships with others (since much violence happens between people in an existing sexual relationship). Do not victim-blame or tie the violence to other sexual choices.

For some families, discussing sex and sexuality at all is extremely difficult. Some families may have never discussed sex before. Be supportive and treat your loved one with respect and maturity.

If your child tells you about being sexually assaulted and asks for therapy, help them research therapists in your area. If you are concerned about money, many rape crisis centers offer free counseling.

If you find out from someone else that your child has been sexually assaulted, tread carefully. If you broach the subject, make sure you allow your child to define the experience in their own terms. Be careful about using words like “rape” or “sexual assault” in the conversation; try to use the same words they apply to their experience.

Remember that some survivors don’t choose to confide in their families — and for a variety of reasons.

Anonymous Resources

Family members who have general questions about Title IX-related resources available at WVU, please call the Title IX On-Call Line at 304-906-9930.

While the staff who answer the Title IX On-Call line serve as anonymous resources for all students, faculty and staff, please note that under most circumstances they cannot discuss specific cases with third parties – such as friends and family – due to the students’ rights under FERPA.

FERPA

Students at West Virginia University and its divisional campuses (“WVU” or “University”) benefit from the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974. This Act, with which West Virginia University intends to comply fully, was designed to protect the privacy of education records, to establish the right of students to inspect and review their education records, and to provide guidelines for the correction of inaccurate or misleading data through informal and formal hearings. A more detailed explanation of rights afforded to students by FERPA can be found at ferpa.wvu.edu/.

Other Resources

Faculty

It may feel strange or intimidating to discuss the details of a student’s private life, especially in an academic setting. However, don’t reject your student’s attempt to reach out to you. Be supportive, suggest resources, and be clear with the student about any school policies that make it necessary for you to alert the administration, public safety, or health services about the assault.

If a student discloses a Title IX related incident to you, it is important that you notify your supervisor and the University’s Title IX Coordinator as soon as possible.

James Goins, Jr.
Title IX Coordinator
1085 Van Voorhis, Suite 250
Morgantown, WV 26506
304-293-5600
james.goins@mail.wvu.edu

Trusted faculty members, including coaches, residence hall advisors, religious leaders and advisors are often the first person to which a student will report their assault. Empower yourself to be an ally by learning key policies and procedures survivors may need.

Faculty and staff should familiarize themselves specifically with the Board of Governor’s Policy 31, Governance Rule 1.6, and Governance Rule 1.7.

Title IX Training

You can request an in-person Title IX training by contacting the Office of Equity Assurance at 304-293-5600.

Anonymous Resources

If you wish to speak to someone anonymously, please call the Title IX On-Call Line at 304-906-9930. Someone is available to take your call 24 hours a day.

While the staff who answer the Title IX On-Call line serve as anonymous resources for all students, faculty and staff, please note that under most circumstances they cannot discuss specific cases with third parties – such as friends and family – due to the students’ rights under FERPA.

West Virginia University is committed to fostering a diverse and inclusive culture by promoting diversity, inclusion, equality, and intercultural and intercommunity outreach. The University does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, ancestry, age, physical or mental disability, marital or family status, pregnancy, veteran status, service in the uniformed services (as defined by state and federal law), religion, creed, sex, sexual orientation, genetic information, gender identity, or gender expression in the administration of any of its educational programs, activities, or with respect to admission or employment.

– Board of Governors Rule 1.6

Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

1085 Van Voorhis Road Suite 250
P.O. Box 6202, Morgantown WV 26506-6202

Phone icon 304-293-5600
Fax icon 304-293-8279
Fax icon diversity@mail.wvu.edu

Report Child Abuse or Neglect

Trust your gut feeling. If you suspect any type of child abuse or neglect, including physical or sexual abuse, report it immediately.

Report Abuse

File a Complaint

There's no place for discrimination and harassment  on our campus. If you have experienced or have knowledge of discrimination or harassment, please report it to us.

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