INTERPERSONAL VIOLENCE INFORMATION AND RESOURCE INFORMATION

(Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Stalking, and Sexual Harassment)

The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point is an intellectual community founded on mutual respect and is committed to providing a living, learning, and working environment that is free from sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking and sexual harassment.  Please click on the following tabs for information OR if you would like information on the Wisconsin Stats. 36.11(22) Requirements, click here.
 
 

 Sexual Assault

 

WHAT IS SEXUAL ASSAULT?

Definition: Sexual assault is actual, attempted or threatened sexual contact with another person without that person’s consent. (Definition of consent is included below.) Statistics: It is difficult to know exactly how many sexual assaults occur because sexual assaults often go unreported. However, below are some facts of which you should be aware:

  • Nationally, in 2010, there were 84,767 sexual offenses reported (Federal Bureau of Investigation).
  • In Wisconsin, 4,857 sexual assaults were reported in 2010.
  • Across the UW System Campuses, there were 257 sexual assaults in 2011… 191 of which were acquaintances.
  • At UW-Stevens Point, there were two reports of sexual assault during 2011. Both of these sexual assaults were by acquaintances.
  • National statistics indicate that 1 in 5 young women experience sexual assault during college.
  • In the vast majority of these crimes -- between 80% and 90% -- the victim and assailant know each other.
  • Half of the student victims do not label the incident “sexual assault." This is particularly true when alcohol was involved and there is no weapon or sign of physical injury.
  • Alcohol does not cause sexual assault but it is often involved or used as a tool.
Warning Signs:
  • Ignores, interrupts, or makes fun of you
  • Sits or stands too close to you or stares at you
  • Has a reputation of being a “player”
  • Drinks too much or uses drugs; tries to get you to use drugs or alcohol
  • Tries to touch or kiss you or gets into your “personal space” when you barely know him/her
  • Wants to be alone with you before getting to know you, or pressure you to be alone together
  • Does what he/she wants without asking what you want
  • Gets angry or sulks if he/she doesn’t get what he/she wants
  • Pressures you to have sex, or tires to make you feel guilty for saying “no”
 

 Domestic Violence

 

WHAT IS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE?

Definition: Domestic Violence includes felony or misdemeanor crimes of violence committed by a current or former spouse of the victim, by a person with whom the victim shares a child in common, by person who is cohabiting with the victim as a spouse, by a person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction receiving grant monies, or by any other person against an adult or youth who is protected from the person’s acts under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction. (By definition roommates may fall under this definition.) Statistics: Victims of domestic violence are of all ages, all levels of education, all religions, all varieties of employment, and all levels of socio-economic status.

  • Women ages 16 to 24 are the most at risk from dating or domestic violence.
  • Women are 5 to 8 times more likely to be victims of dating violence than men.
  • Dating or domestic violence accounts for 21% of all violence experienced by women.
  • Between 25 to 33% of LGBT relationships include dating or domestic violence, a rate equivalent to heterosexual relationships
Warning Signs:
  • Although each situation is different, there are some common patterns and warning signs
  • Partner’s extreme jealousy or insecurity- Your partner makes false accusations about you and what you have been doing. Also, you may be prevented from doing things you want to do, like apply for a promotion, take a trip, or go on an adventure
  • Constant criticism- Your partner criticizes everything from your appearance to your performance. Nothing is ever good enough and nothing escapes the criticism, no matter how hard you work.
  • Isolation- Abusive partners may start isolating you by saying that your friends aren’t good enough for you or that he/she doesn’t like them. Next, he or she may start limiting the time you spend with others as well as limiting the people you can see. Eventually the isolation gets more pronounced and you could be completely isolated from all friends and family members. Some victims have been forced to quit their jobs by their abusive partners.
  • Possessiveness- Your partner treats you as if you are property.
  • Monitoring- Your partner calls, texts, or e-mails constantly to monitor your activities; asking where you were, when and with whom. If you do not answer, your partner gets very angry.
  • Telling you what to do- Your partner controls your every move, telling you where to go and who to see.
  • Explosive temper—the individual goes from calm to furious with no warning. Person may be violent and destructive during this “tantrum.”
 

 Dating Violence

 

WHAT IS DATING VIOLENCE?

Definition: Dating Violence is defined as violence committed by a person A) Who is or has been in a social relationship or a romantic or intimate nature with the victim; and B) Where the existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on consideration of the following factors: i) The length of the relationship; ii) The type of relationship; iii) The frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship. Methods of Drug-Facilitated Rape: Drug-facilitated rape can be defined as sexual assault made easier by the offender’s use of an "anesthesia" type drug that renders the victim physically incapacitated or helpless and unable to give consent to sexual activity. Whether the victim is unwittingly administered the drug or willingly ingests it for recreational use is irrelevant. The victim is unable to consciously consent to sexual acts.

  • Alcohol
  • Antihistamines (such as Benadryl)
  • Rohypnol (Roofies)
  • GHB (Gamma hydroxybutyrate)
  • Ketamine (Special K, Vitamin K, K)
Statistics:
  • Nearly 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner in a single year
  • One in three adolescents in the U.S. is a victim of physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner
  • Approximately 70% of college students say they have been sexually coerced
Warning Signs:
  • Partner’s extreme jealousy or insecurity- Your partner makes false accusations about you and what you have been doing. Also, you may be prevented from doing things you want to do, like apply for a promotion, take a trip, or go on an adventure
  • Constant criticism- Your partner criticizes everything from your appearance to your performance. Nothing is ever good enough and nothing escapes the criticism, no matter how hard you work.
  • Isolation- Abusive partners may start isolating you by saying that your friends aren’t good enough for you or that he/she doesn’t like them. Next, he or she may start limiting the time you spend with others as well as limiting the people you can see. Eventually the isolation gets more pronounced and you could be completely isolated from all friends and family members. Some victims have been forced to quit their jobs by their abusive partners.
  • Possessiveness- Your partner treats you as if you are property.
  • Monitoring- Your partner calls, texts, or e-mails constantly to monitor your activities; asking where you were, when and with whom. If you do not answer, your partner gets very angry.
  • Telling you what to do- Your partner controls your every move, telling you where to go and who to see.
  • Explosive temper—the individual goes from calm to furious with no warning. Person may be violent and destructive during this “tantrum.”
 

 Stalking

 

WHAT IS STALKING?

Definition: Stalking is defined as engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to A) Fear for his or her safety or the safety of others; or B) Suffer substantial emotional distress.

Statistics:

  • 8% of women and 2% of men in the US have been stalked at some point during their lifetime (U.S. Department of Justice, 1998).
  • According to the National Violence Against Women Survey, most female (77%) and male (64%) victims knew their stalker, while 23% of female victims and 36% of male victims were stalked by a stranger (Ibid).
  • 59% of female stalking victims are stalked by an intimate partner (Ibid.).
  • More than 13% of the respondents in a national survey of college women indicated that they had been stalked. The average length of stalking was 60 days (U.S. Department of Justice, 2000).
  • Of women who are stalked by a current or former husband or cohabiting partner, 81% are also physically assaulted by that partner, and 31% are also sexually assaulted by that partner (U.S. Department of Justice, 1998).
Seven Types of Harassing or Unwanted Behavior:
  • making unwanted phone calls
  • sending unsolicited or unwanted letters or emails
  • following or spying on the victim
  • showing up at a place where they had no reason to be
  • waiting at places for the victim
  • leaving unwanted items, presents, or flowers
  • posting information or spreading rumors about the victim on the internet, in a public place, or by word of mouth
 

 Sexual Harassment

 

WHAT IS SEXUAL HARASSMENT?

Definition: Sexual harassment is impermissible and unprofessional conduct, subject to disciplinary action in accordance with applicable due process requirements, including, but not limited to reprimand, temporary suspension, expulsion, or discharge of the harassing individual. Sexual harassment is unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when either:

  1. The conduct is made as an explicit or implicit term or condition of an individual's employment, career advancement, education, grades, living environment or participation in a University Community.
  2. The acceptance or refusal of such conduct is used as the basis or a factor in decisions affecting an individual's employment, career advancement, education, grades, living environment, or participation in a University Community.
  3. The conduct has the purpose or the effect of substantially and unreasonably impacting an individual's employment or academic performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment for that individual's employment, career advancement, education, grades, living environment, or participation in a University Community
Statistics:
  • Sexual harassment is sex discrimination.
  • 50% of college women report having been subject to sexist remarks, catcalls, or whistles, while 20% report having received an obscene phone call (U.S. Department of Justice, 2000).
  • 83% of girls and 79% of boys, grades 8-11, report having experienced sexual harassment, and over 25% report experiencing it often (Harris Poll, American Association of University Women, 2001).
  • 30% of women report having been sexually harassed at work (Harris Poll, 1994).
  • Pervasive stereotypes about women of color not only shape the kinds of harassment they face, but also influence whether their stories are likely to be believed.
 

 What is Consent?

 

WHAT IS CONSENT?

Definition: “Consent”, means words or overt actions by a person who is competent to give informed consent indicating a freely given agreement to have sexual intercourse or sexual contact. Consent of all parties involved is a critical factor that distinguishes acceptable sexual behavior from unacceptable sexual behavior. Consent is communicated through mutually understandable words or actions that indicate willingness by all of the involved parties to engage in the same sexual activity, at the same time, and in the same way.

Elements of Consent
Consent cannot be freely given if the person’s ability to understand and give consent is impaired. Examples of those who are impaired and therefore cannot give consent include:

  • Any person who is incapacitated due to the use of alcohol or drugs
  • Any person who is unconscious or for any reason is physically incapacitated
  • Any person who is mentally impaired
  • Any person who is less than 18 years old
  • Any person who has experienced the explicit or implicit use of force, coercion, threats, and/or intimidation.

Ideally, consent is given verbally. However, consent (or lack of consent) can be given through gestures, body language, and/or attitude. For example, active reciprocation could express consent and pushing someone away or simply moving away, could express lack of consent.

Silence Does Not Equal Consent

  • Consent to one form of sexual activity does not necessarily imply consent to other forms of sexual activity. Consent may be given for specific activities and not for others.
  • Any party has the right to change their mind and withdraw consent at any time.
  • A prior sexual history between the participants does not constitute consent.
  • A person’s ability to freely give consent may be jeopardized if the initiator is in a position of power over the person.

MAKING A REPORT

  1. ON-CAMPUS REPORTING
  2. Anyone who is aware of an act of interpersonal violence must report it to the Dean of Students Office. Such reporting is for statistical purposes only; no other action is required unless so directed by the victim. Anonymous reporting is available but doesn’t allow for further follow up and support.

    Any University employee who witnesses a sexual assault on campus or receives a report that a student has been sexually assaulted is required by 1989 Wisconsin Act 177 to report the assault to the Dean of Students.

    The electronic report forms are available on the Dean of Students website at www.uwsp.edu/dos. All completed reports go directly to the Dean of Students Office, room 212, Old Main, 715-346-2611 when submitted.
    1. CAMPUS CONDUCT PROCESS
    2. Should a victim choose to bring charges against another student through the student conduct process, the following steps will be followed:
      • An electronic report will be filed with the Dean of Students Office.
      • An adjudication officer will be assigned and interviews will be conducted to determine whether violations of UWSP Chapter 17 have occurred.
      • Rights of the victim, the conduct process and victim services will be reviewed.
      • If evidence suggests a violation of our community standards, the adjudicating officer will notify the accused student in writing, stating the charges and setting a date for a hearing.
      • The procedures outlined in UWSP Chapter 17 will be followed pertaining rights of the accused.
      • The alleged victim is not present at the hearing, however, content and details of the initial report may need to be discussed during the hearing.
      • After the adjudicating officer has obtained all available information on the case and a hearing has taken place, a written decision will be rendered.
      • If the accused is found to be in violation of one or more sections of Chapter 17, sanctions will be imposed. Sanctions may include probation, suspension, expulsion, removal or restrictions within the student’s residential community, alcohol assessment, psychological assessment and/or other requirements determined by the adjudicating officer depending on the severity of the case.
      • The victim will also be notified about the outcome of the case when it is completed.
      • The accused and the victim shall have 10 days to submit an appeal to the office of Dean of Students Office if they so choose.
      • The Dean of Students Office shall exercise authority when deemed necessary to restrict contact between individuals, determine housing changes if appropriate during or after the hearing, and make other decisions intended to bring order to the academic environment.

    3. PROTECTION AGAINST RETALIATION

    4. UWSP Dean of Students Office will take appropriate steps to protect students from retaliation when they report, file a complaint of, or cooperate in an investigation of a violation of the UWSP Community Rights and Responsibilities. Threats or acts of retaliation, whether person-to-person, by electronic means, or through third parties, are serious offenses that will subject the violator to significant disciplinary and other corrective action, including long-term suspension or expulsion.
    5. RETALIATION

    6. Threatening to or retaliating against any person for reporting or filing a complaint; for aiding or encouraging the filing of a report or complaint, or for cooperating in an investigation of harassment or discrimination. Retaliation includes threats or acts of retaliation, whether person-to-person, by electronic means, or through third parties. It also includes overt or covert acts of reprisal, interference, restraint, penalty, discrimination or harassment against an individual or group for exercising rights under the UWSP Community Rights and Responsibilities.
    7. FALSE CHARGE

    8. Any student who knowingly makes false charges or brings a malicious complaint may be subject to any of the disciplinary and/or corrective action(s) detailed above.
  3. MAKING A POLICE REPORT
  4. Making the decision to file a police report can be an extremely difficult decision for interpersonal violence survivors, especially if you know your attacker. Sometimes survivors also fear making a police report because they may have been drinking or engaged in some other illegal activity. You should know that law enforcement will not issue tickets for underage drinking if there is a greater crime involved, such as sexual assault. Reporting to the police can be a way for you to take back control in your life, it can help to protect the larger community, and it can also be a way to ensure that your assailant can get help and treatment.
  • You can choose to report to the local police whether or not the incident took place on campus, and whether or not the assailant was a student at UWSP.
  • If you decide to go to the hospital and get an evidentiary exam, the Stevens Point police will be called to speak with you. Everything you say in an interview with the police is confidential, and the police will not move forward in pressing charges without your consent.
  • You may have an advocate present in an interview with the police. Call the Sexual Assault Victim Services at 715-343-7125 if needed.

WHAT IS THE LAW?

Sexual assault is any forced or coerced sexual intercourse or contact. It is a crime of violence in which assailants, whether known to the victim or not, are motivated by a desire to humiliate and/or exert power over the victim. (Refer to Wisconsin State Statutes 940.225 and 948.02.) In short, any sexual contact which you do not want is sexual assault. There are four degrees of sexual assault in Wisconsin.
  1. Degrees of Sexual Assault
  2. First Degree Sexual Assault
    Whoever does any of the following is guilty of a Class B felony:
    • Has sexual contact or sexual intercourse with another person without consent of that person and causes pregnancy or great bodily harm to that person.
    • Has sexual contact or sexual intercourse with another person without consent of that person by use or threat of use of a dangerous weapon or any article used or fashioned in a manner to lead the victim reasonably to believe it to be a dangerous weapon.
    • Is aided or abetted by one or more other persons and has sexual contact or sexual intercourse with another person without consent of that person by use or threat of force or violence.

    Second Degree Sexual Assault
    Whoever does any of the following is guilty of a Class C felony:
    • Has sexual contact or sexual intercourse with another person without consent of that person by use or threat of force or violence.
    • Has sexual contact or sexual intercourse with another person without consent of that person and causes injury, illness, disease or impairment of a sexual or reproductive organ, or mental anguish requiring psychiatric care for the victim.
    • Has sexual contact or sexual intercourse with a person who suffers from a mental illness or deficiency which renders that person temporarily or permanently incapable of appraising the person’s conduct and the defendant knows of such condition.
    • (cm) Has sexual contact or sexual intercourse with a person who is under the influence of an intoxicant (ai) to a degree which renders that person incapable of appraising the person’s conduct and the defendant knows of such condition.
    • Has sexual contact or sexual intercourse with a person who the defendant knows is unconscious.
    • Is aided or abetted by one or more other persons and has sexual contact or sexual intercourse with another person without the consent of that person.
    • Is an employee of a facility or program under s. 940.295. (2)(b),(c),(h) or (k) and has sexual contact or sexual intercourse with a person who is a patient or resident of the facility or program.

    Third Degree Sexual Assault
    Whoever has sexual intercourse with a person without the consent of that person is guilty of a Class G felony. Whoever has sexual contact in the manner described in sub. (5)(b) 2. with a person without the consent of that person is guilty of a Class G felony.

    Fourth Degree Sexual Assault
    Except as provided in sub. (3), whoever has sexual contact with a person without the consent of that person is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor. (ag) “Inpatient facility” has the meaning designated in s. 51.01 (10). (ai) “Intoxicant” means any controlled substance, controlled substance analog or other drug, any combination of a controlled substance, controlled substance analog or other drug or any combination of an alcohol beverage and a controlled substance, controlled substance analog or other drug. “Intoxicant” does not include any alcohol beverage. (am) “Patient” means any person who does any of the following: 1.) Receives care or treatment from a facility or program under s.940.295 (2) (b), (c), (h) or (k), from an employee of a facility or program or from a person providing services under contract with a facility or program. 2.) Arrives at a facility or program under s. 940.295 (2) (b), (c), (h) or (k) for the purpose of receiving care or treatment from a facility or program under s. 940.295 (2) (b), (c), (h) or (k), from an employee of a facility or program under s. 940.295 (2) (b), (c), (h) or (k), or from a person providing services under contract with a facility or program under s. 940.295 (2)(b),(c), (h) or (k). (ar) “Resident” means any person who resides in a facility under s. 940.295 (2)(b),(c),(h) or (k). (b) “Sexual contact” means any of the following: 1. Intentional touching by the complainant or defendant, either directly or through clothing by the use of any body part or object, of the complainant’s or defendant’s intimate parts if that intentional touching is either for the purpose of sexually degrading; or for the purpose of sexually humiliating the complainant or sexually arousing or gratifying the defendant or if the touching contains the elements of actual or attempted battery under s. 940.19 (1). 2. Intentional penile ejaculation of ejaculate or intentional emission of urine or feces by the defendant upon any part of the body clothed or unclothed of the complainant if that ejaculation or emission is either for the purpose of sexually degrading or sexually humiliating the complainant or for the purpose of sexually arousing or gratifying the defendant. (c)“Sexual intercourse” includes the meaning assigned under s. 939.22 (36) as well as cunnilingus, fellatio or anal intercourse between persons or any other intrusion, however slight, of any part of a person’s body or of any object into the genital or anal opening either by the defendant or upon the defendant’s instruction. The emission of semen is not required. (d)“State treatment facility” has the meaning designated in s. 51.01 (15).
  3. OTHER IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT THE LAW
    1. MARRIAGE NOT A BAR TO PROSECUTION
    2. A defendant shall not be presumed to be incapable of violating this section because of marriage to the complainant.
    3. DEATH OF VICTIM
    4. This section applies whether a victim is dead or alive at the time of the sexual contact or sexual intercourse.
    5. PENALTIES:
    6. Penalties for conviction of a criminal or civil action based on a crime of sexual assault or rape range from fines, financial restitution and probation to imprisonment, depending on the degree of the assault.
      • First degree sexual assault is a class B felony. A person found guilty of first degree sexual assault may be imprisoned up to 20 years.

      • Second degree sexual assault is a class C felony. One found guilty of second degree sexual assault can be impris¬oned not more than 10 years and/or fined not more than $10,000.

      • Third degree sexual assault is a class D felony. The penalty for a third degree sexual assault is imprisonment for not more than five years and/or a fine of not more than $10,000.

      • Fourth degree sexual assault is a class A misdemeanor. The penalty for fourth degree sexual assault is imprisonment for not more than nine months and/or a fine of not more than $10,000.

    Procedures for campus actions can be found in UWS/UWSP Chapter 17. Penalties for students found guilty of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking by the Dean of Students Office range from probation to suspension/expulsion. The University may also take whatever action it deems necessary to provide for the safety of the members of the university community. The University will also report each sexual assault to the city police, without reference to individuals.
  4. LEGAL RIGHTS OF VICTIMS
  5. Each individual has the option to pursue appropriate law enforcement, student conduct, protective services, counseling, medical assistance and to be assisted by campus authorities in finding appropriate services.
    Should a victim choose to prosecute legally, that person should be aware of Wisconsin Statute 950, which addresses the legal rights of victims. A victim has legal rights and is eligible for the services under this chapter only if the victim reports the crime to law enforcement authorities within 5 days of its occurrence or discovery, unless he or she has a reasonable excuse not to do so.
  • To be informed by local law enforcement agencies and the district attorney of the final disposition of the case. If the crime charged is a felony or is specified in ch. 940 or s. 948.02, 948.03 or 948.05, the victim shall be notified whenever the defendant or perpetrator is released from custody. The victim shall be notified of a pardon application by the governor.
  • To be notified that a court proceeding to which they have been subpoenaed will not go on as scheduled, in order to save the person an unnecessary trip to court.
  • To have the court provided with information pertaining to the economic, physical and psychological effect of the crime upon the victim of a felony and have the information considered by the court.
  • To receive protection from harm and threats of harm arising out of their cooperation with law enforcement and prosecution efforts, and to be provided with information as to the level of protection available.
  • To be informed of financial assistance and other social services available as a result of being a witness or a victim of a crime, including information on how to apply for the assistance and services.
  • To be informed of the procedure to be followed in order to apply for and receive any witness fee to which they are entitled.
  • To be provided, whenever possible, a secure waiting area during court proceedings that does not require them to be in close proximity to defendants and families and friends of defendants.
  • To have any stolen or other personal property expeditiously returned by law enforcement agencies when no longer needed as evidence.
  • To be provided with appropriate employer intercession services to ensure that employers of victims and witnesses will cooperate with the criminal justice process and the juvenile justice process in order to minimize an employee’s loss of pay and other benefits resulting from court appearances.
  • To be entitled to a speedy disposition of the case in which they are involved as a victim or witness in order to minimize the length of time they must endure the stress of their responsibilities in connection with the matter.
  • To have the family members of all homicide victims afforded all of the rights under subs. (1) to (4) and (6) to (9) and analogous services under s. 950.05, whether or not they are witnesses in any criminal proceedings.
  • To be entitled to provide written statements concerning parole and pardon applications.

SERVICES/SUPPORT

  1. Campus Resources
  2. Counseling Center Delzell Hall - 3rd Floor    715-346-3553

    Dean of Students Office - 212 Old Main     715-346-2611

    Equity and Affirmative Action Office 133 Old Main    715-346-2602

    Protective Services George Stein Building    715-346-3456

    Residential Living 601 Division 715-346-3511

    Student Health Promotion 004 Allen Center    715-346-4313

    Student Health Service Delzell Hall - 1st Floor    715-346-4646

    Women’s Resource Center Lower Level Dreyfus Univ. Center    715-346-4851

  3. Community Resources
  4. Family Crisis Center 1616 River Drive 715-343-7125; 800-472-3377

    Portage County Health and Human Services 817 Whiting Avenue 715-345-5350

    Portage County Sheriff’s Dept. 1500 Strongs Avenue 715-346-1400

    Sexual Assault Victim Services, Inc. (SAVS) 1616 West River Drive Office: 715-343-7114 Crisis: 715-343-7125 or 800-472-3377

    St. Michael’s Hospital 900 Illinois Avenue 715-346-5000 24 hour Emergency: 715-346-5100

    Stevens Point Police Department – Non emergency 1515 Strongs Avenue 715-346-1500

PREVENTION

Both men and women should be especially careful in situations involving the use of alcohol or drugs. Alcohol and drugs can interfere with your ability to assess situations and to communicate effectively.

  1. Be an active bystander
  2. Sexual assault is a community issue. Often prevention efforts are aimed at victims and perpetrators. While this focus is important it does not take into account the largest group of people involved in sexual assault, the bystander. Bystanders outnumber both the perpetrators and the victims. Bystanders represent a web of people surrounding a progression of inappropriate behaviors, harassment and assault. Some bystanders know a specific assault is happening or will happen, some see an assault or a potential assault in progress and some know assaults do happen. Bystanders can have a powerful impact on assault prevention on college campuses and can get help for people who have been victimized.

    Take the example of a typical perpetrator of college sexual assaults. Most are men who are outwardly charming, have a lot of friends, and don’t consider their actions wrong (Lisak, 2002). People who know the person (perpetrators) and are potential friends of the person, often do not want women they care about (sister, friends, etc.) to date or hang around this man. When his behavior is directed at other women whom they are not close to, bystanders often do not think it is a situation in which they need to get involved. Bystanders often know the perpetrator’s behavior is inappropriate and potentially illegal, but may now know what they can do to make a difference.

    We have all been bystanders in our lives. We will be in situations where we are bystanders in the future. The choice then becomes whether we are going to be active bystanders who speak up and say something, or whether we will be passive bystanders who stand by and say nothing.

    If you have stopped a friend from going home with someone when the friend is drunk or high, if you have tried to stop a friend/teammate/peer from taking advantage of someone or doing something else inappropriate, both these actions are examples of bystander using their power to stop sexual assault.

    There is no sure way to prevent victimization. However, as with all safety issues there are ways to decrease the risk of being a victim of sexual assault. Each individual needs to decide what strategies are best for them. It is important to understand that even if a person takes many steps, some steps, or no steps to prevent sexual assault, he or she is never to blame if assaulted.

    Avoid, or limit, alcohol consumption. Alcohol does not cause sexual assault but it is present in 8 of 10 sexual assaults. Alcohol slowly puts your brain to sleep, releasing inhibitions, clouding judgment, and impairing motor and verbal skills. Alcohol is the most commonly used drug to facilitate sexual assault.

    The more alcohol you consume, the more intoxicated you become and the more vulnerable you are to victimization. Alcoholic drinks that taste sweet and fruity can make it difficult to realize how much alcohol is being consumed. While less common than alcohol, “date rape drugs” such as GHB and Rohypnol, have been used on some college campuses. These drugs are colorless, odorless, and tasteless and when ingested, can cause memory loss, loss of motor control, and loss of consciousness. To maintain control of how much alcohol you consume, make your own drinks and keep track of how many drinks you have had. Do not leave your drinks unattended to prevent someone adding something harmful. Be wary of someone who provides alcohol freely and encourages you to get intoxicated.

     

    Trust your instincts. Instincts are usually correct. If you feel uncomfortable in a situation, get out of that situation as soon as possible. Do not worry about hurting anyone’s feelings, or explaining reasons for leaving. Explain your reasons later, when you are feeling safe. Have a “safe word” that can be used with friends when you feel threatened or uncomfortable such as “It’s getting stale in here, let’s go.” Have your group commit in advance to leaving a situation when the safe word is used.

     

    Be clear. You know yourself better than anyone else and it is important to set limits. Only do what is comfortable and communicate this clearly both verbally and behaviorally. It is not rude to be clear and up front about the level of intimacy desired, if any at all. Silence may be taken as consent.

     

    Stick with friends. Historically, individuals have been advised to avoid going out alone or walking home alone, presumably to avoid being stalked and assaulted by a stranger. While this may still be good advice, most assaults occur between two people who know each other and in private rooms or apartments. So, going into someone’s room or apartment may seem innocent enough but may truly have some risk. Be cautious about going into someone’s room alone and avoid being separated from a group of friends.

    What else can bystanders do to make a difference?

    • Believe someone who discloses a sexual assault, abusive relationship or experiences with stalking or cyber stalking
    • Be respectful of yourself and others. Make sure any sexual act is ok with your partner if you initiate
    • Watch out for your friends and fellow Pointers - if you see someone who looks like they are in trouble, ask if they are okay. If you see a friend doing something shady, say something.
    • Speak up – if someone says something offensive, derogatory or abusive, let them know that behavior is wrong and you don’t want to be around it. Don’t laugh at racist, sexist, homophobic jokes, challenge your peers to be respectful.
  3. INFORMATION ABOUT PERPETRATOR(S)
  4. Perpetrators bear the burden of preventing sexual assault. There are many ways to decrease the likelihood of being a perpetrator. Remember that sexual assault is a crime. It is never acceptable to use pressure or force in sexual situations, no matter what the circumstances. You will find yourself in the role as a perpetrator if you fail to do any of the following:

    Understand consent and adopt a healthy, respectful approach to sexual relations. Always actively seek consent rather than thinking, “I’m going to do what I want to do until someone tells me not to.” Consent of the parties involved is a critical factor that distinguishes acceptable sexual behavior from unacceptable sexual behavior. Consent is informed, and freely and actively given. Both parties involved in sexual relations need to be active participants. Silence and passivity is not considered consent. In addition, a person cannot give consent if they are incapacitated by alcohol or drugs. If you have sex with a person who is intoxicated, high or passed out, you are guilty of sexual assault.

    Be brave. Group situations can get out of hand fast. Be prepared to resist pressure from friends to participate in violent or criminal acts. Get involved in a situation if someone is at risk. If someone is in trouble at a party or a friend is pressuring someone or using force, don’t be afraid to intervene. Step in if “something is not right.” Two people could be saved – one from trauma of sexual assault and the other from criminal prosecution.

    Listen carefully. Take the time to hear what is being said by the person you are with. If someone is not being direct, ask for clarification. Don’t fall for the common stereotype that when someone says “No” it really means “Yes.” “No” means “No.” If you hear “No” to sexual contact, stop what you are doing immediately. Remember, even if “No’ is not clearly spoken, an individual may be guilty of sexual assault because he or she coerced another’s behavior. Silence and passivity is not considered consent.

    Avoid making assumptions. Don’t automatically assume that sex is inevitable just because someone drinks heavily, dresses provocatively, or agrees to go to your room. Don’t assume that just because someone has had sex previously that s/he is willing to have sex again. Also don’t assume that just because a person consents to kissing or other sexual intimacies that s/he is willing to have sex. Assuming and then forcing the desired outcome likely qualifies as sexual assault. Silence and passivity is not considered consent.

PROTECTING AGAINST STRANGER ASSAULT

Walking on/off campus

  1. Always be aware of what is going on around you. Stay alert to your surroundings.
  2. Walk with confidence. Hold your head up and shoulders straight.
  3. At night, stick to well-lighted, populated areas and walk with another person. Avoid walking alone or in isolated areas.
  4. Use campus escort services.
  5. Take special precautions in parking lots, stairwells, elevators, bathrooms, and dark areas with shrubbery. Studies show that many assaults by strangers occur in these places.
  6. If you suspect that you are being followed, go to a place where there are other people as soon as possible. If you choose to run, run as fast as you are able and scream to attract attention or summon help.
  7. Follow your gut instincts. If you sense that you may be at risk or in danger, try to get out of the situation. For example, if you see a suspicious looking person or someone who makes you feel uncomfortable in a parking lot, leave the area. Report your suspicions to the authorities.

In residence halls:

  1. Lock your door at all times, even if you run down the hall for just a few minutes to visit a friend or go to the bathroom/shower.
  2. Do not prop security doors open.
  3. In residence halls accessed only by a special key, do not let anyone without such a key enter, no matter how presentable their appearance or how plausible their request seems. Simply tell them, “I would like to help you out, but we are very concerned about security in this residence,” and direct them to campus security for assistance.
  4. Be especially aware of security during vacation periods, when there are fewer people on campus.

HEALING FROM SEXUAL ASSAULT

Each survivor of sexual assault responds uniquely to that assault, and each person’s recovery process will be different. Some people may experience reactions immediately after the assault; others may not experience some reactions for weeks, months or even years after the assault. While there are individual differences in the ways that people experience sexual assault, there are common patterns of recovery that are normal and natural.

Sexual assault can be extremely traumatic and can change your life. It is important to remember that your responses are normal reactions to an abnormal situation.

However resilient you are, the experience of sexual assault may result in psychological crisis. Initially, you may experience shock, numbness or nothing at all. Later you might start to have intense feelings of fear, anger, guilt and shame. You may find yourself blaming yourself for what happened. You may feel that you have lost control over your life, that people are no longer trustworthy and kind, and that the world no longer feels safe. These are normal feelings to experience after being assaulted.

Sometimes people experience physical symptoms of trauma. You may start to have headaches, stomach problems, and changes in your appetite. You may also notice that you are sleeping too much or too little, that you have nightmares, a desire to harm yourself, memory problems and flashbacks. Remember, these feelings are normal. However, therapy and support would be helpful to recover. While the effects of sexual assault can sometimes feeling devastating, with support, information and help, a victim can heal from sexual assault.

You do not have to be alone in recovery. As a student at UWSP, you have access to free counseling with experienced professionals at the Counseling Center. If you would prefer to work with a professional off-campus, the Counseling Center can provide referrals to resources in the community.

Tips That Help:

Recognize that the assault was not your fault. No one deserves to be sexually assaulted. Even if you put yourself in a vulnerable situation, it is not your fault that someone else chose to take advantage of that vulnerability to commit sexual assault. Feelings of guilt and self-blame are often efforts to feel some control over what happened to you. Surrounding yourself with supportive people who do not blame or judge you can be helpful in dispelling feelings of shame and self-blame.

It is common for survivors to fear people and to feel vulnerable even when going about normal activities. Make the changes that you need to help you feel safe. You might want to change the locks, stay with friends or family, or have a friend accompany you to class or around campus. Most of these fears will go away or lessen with time. If fear is getting in the way of your daily life, consider speaking with a counselor.

Having control taken from you may lead you to feel disoriented, overwhelmed, and out of control in other parts of your life. You may temporarily lack your usual self-confidence and find it hard to make everyday decisions. Try to make as many of your own decisions as possible, however small. Making small changes but visible changes in your life, such as re-arranging the furniture in your room, or changing your daily routine, can help your regain a sense of control.

ASSISTING ANOTHER PERSON WHO HAS BEEN SEXUALLY ASSAULTED

The Three Basic Messages That Sexual Assault Survivors Need To Hear:

  1. I believe you.
  2. The assault was not your fault.
  3. Help is available. You are not alone.

If someone you care about has recently been sexually assaulted there is a great deal you can do to help. If the sexual assault happened recently, within 72 hours, there are some basic steps you can suggest to the victim:

  1. Seek medical attention immediately. A hospital visit is highly recommended. It is important to preserve evidence toward the proof of sexual assault. Go to the emergency room at Ministry Saint Michael’s Hospital where you can receive a sexual assault exam performed by specially trained female nurses. The exam can be performed up to 72 hours after an assault, but is most successful if performed within the first 24 hours. The staff at Ministry will be able to provide an evidentiary exam if needed and connect you to a Sexual Assault Victim Advocate. Health Services can also carry out a non-evidentiary exam with little or no cost to you, and will keep your visit confidential.
  2. Refer survivors to the closest Sexual Assault Victim Services and/or other support services, (e.g., UWSP Counseling Center, Sexual Assault Victim Service). SAVS Advocates provide help, information and support throughout the process of coping with sexual assault. SAVS advocates are trained to assist survivors at local hospitals, police departments, and courts.
  3. Encourage survivors to seek ongoing support: Talking about the sexual assault or its effects will help the survivor through the recovery and healing process. If you are absolutely unsure what to do, ask them “How can I be helpful to you?” Free counseling is available at the UWSP Counseling Center. Consider a support group of survivors of sexual assault. You can contact SAVS at 715-343-2175 for more information on support groups.
  4. Consider options of initiating disciplinary action through the Dean of Students Office and/or seeking a legal response by reporting the assault to the Stevens Point Police Department. There are two separate options that could be pursued by a victim. It is always the victim’s choice about what course of action to pursue. No other action will be taken unless determined by the victim.

If there is ANY chance you want to report the assault to the police now or in the future:

  • Do not shower or douche
  • Save the clothes you were wearing at the time of the assault in a paper bag.
  • Save sheets, blankets or anything else that may have evidence in a paper bag. Do not throw anything away or try to clean up.

The Stevens Point Police will be informed that an assault has taken place, and they will come to the hospital to speak to you. Everything that you say to the police is held confidential, and they will not press charges without your consent.

Guidelines for Family and Friends of Survivors

Sexual assault can have a significant impact on those who are in caring relationships with a survivor, producing many difficult and seemingly contradictory emotions. It can be painful to think about someone you care about being harmed. In addition to providing support for the survivor, it is important that you deal with your own thoughts and feelings about sexual assault. You may experience intense reactions due to your caring for the survivor. Just as the survivor’s greatest task is self-care at this time, you will also need to find ways to take care of yourself.

Sometimes people first reaction to a crisis is to deny it. You may find yourself saying “don’t worry/don’t cry/don’t think about it.” While these reactions come out of an honest desire to ease the pain of the survivor, they can make the survivor feel unheard or that their feelings are wrong. Sexual assault is significantly stressful; to imply that it isn’t, or shouldn’t be, is disrespectful and discounting to the survivor. This attitude can create more problems than it resolves. Allow the survivor to have their emotional reactions.

Sometimes the most supportive thing you can do is to simply LISTEN. You do not have to (and probably can't) “fix it.” It is never easy to witness the pain of someone you care about. Yet often being a supportive witness to the pain can help empower the survivor because you demonstrate that regardless of what happened you will still accept and care about them even with their emotional reactions.

It is important to recognize your own limitations and if it is too much for you, seek help from someone trained in counseling survivors of sexual assault.

Some important things you can do:

  • Believe her or him.
  • Be yourself – treat the survivor just as you normally do.
  • Express your caring and concern for the survivor.
  • Allow the survivor to have her or his feelings.
  • Reassure the survivor that confusing and painful feelings are to be expected.
  • Let the survivor know the assault was not his or her fault. Even if the survivor made decisions which put her or him in a vulnerable situation, it is not the survivor’s fault. Someone else chose to take advantage of that vulnerability to commit sexual assault.
  • Powerlessness is a big issue. You may guide the survivor, but let the survivor have control of her or his own life and make his or her own decisions about how to proceed.
  • Encourage, but do not force the survivor to talk. Listen in a caring way without trying to “fix.”
  • Find healthy ways to deal with your feelings and make sure you have emotional support, if necessary.

INFORMATION FOR MALE SURVIVORS

Sexual Assault is a male issue too. Research shows that 10-20% of men will be victims of sexual assault at some time during their lives.

Our culture endorses ideas that can prevent male survivors from speaking out about sexual assault. Society can label male survivors of sexual assault as less manly for “allowing” themselves to be victimized.

The myth that men assaulted by other men must be gay can add to this stigma. Sexual assault is not about sexual orientation or desire. It is an act of power and control. The motivation of the perpetrator is to humiliate and/or brutalize another person.

If you are a male survivor, it is important to know there is help out there for you as well.