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Sexual Assault

Every two minutes, someone in the United States is sexually assaulted…eighty percent of sexual assault victims are under the age of 30…almost two-thirds of victims are assaulted by someone they know…victims are significantly more likely to suffer from depression, post-traumatic stress syndrome, abuse drugs and/or alcohol or to contemplate suicide.

These statistics underscore the seriousness of the crime of sexual assault, the need for awareness and the importance of sexual assault prevention. At Sonoma State University, there are many resources available to students who have been the victim of sexual assault. The resources below are available to victims of sexual assault or can be used by any member of our community to take an active role in sexual assault prevention or to support a friend or family member who has been the victim of sexual assault.

Quick Links:

I’ve been sexually assaulted. What can I do?

If you are a victim of sexual assault, you have many options and resources available to you. Most importantly, know that what happened is not your fault.

  1. Get to a safe place as soon as possible. Your immediate safety is first.
  2. While it is your choice to report or not report the crime to the police, doing so protects your rights and ensures the timely collection of evidence should you decide to seek prosecution at any time.
    • Call 911 or 707-664-4444 to report crimes to SSU Police at any time. Filing a Police report does not require you to seek prosecution unless you choose to do so. SSU Police will also help facilitate contact with the appropriate law enforcement agency if the crime occurs off-campus.
    • Anywhere in the state of California, you can call 2-1-1 for assistance locating a law enforcement agency.
    • All University employees must report any sexual assault information that they are aware of or that has been shared with them by a victim, perpetrator, or third party, that has occurred on campus or at a University sponsored event to Employee Relations and Compliance 707-664-4470, to include names of victims and perpetrators, if known. The only confidential sources victims may report sexual assault information to are CAPS, the Student Health Center, and Police.
  3. Seek medical care as soon as possible. Even if you do not think you have any injuries, you should be examined for internal injuries and get treatment for possible sexually transmitted diseases.
  4. It is important that you speak to someone.
    • Anywhere in Sonoma County for counseling and support call 707-545-7273 to speak confidentially to a Verity victim advocate on the 24/7 crisis line OR call 707-545-7270 during business hours or see http://ourverity.org/immediate-help/. Verity also provides trained in-person accompaniment to forensic medical exams and helps people navigate medical, counseling, reporting, court, and more.
    • For on-campus confidential support and counseling call 707-664-2153 during University business hours to speak confidentially to a psychologist at SSU Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) and/or call or visit the Student Health Center 707-664-2921 to speak confidentially to a nurse or doctor.

How can I avoid becoming a victim of sexual assault?

There is no way to completely protect yourself from sexual assault, but the following actions can help reduce your risk of becoming a victim.

  1. Be aware of your surroundings. Knowing where you are and who is around you may help you to find a way to get out of a bad situation.
  2. Try to avoid isolated areas. It is more difficult to get help if no one is around.
  3. Walk with purpose. Even if you don’t know where you are going, act like you do.
  4. Trust your instincts. If a situation or location feels unsafe or uncomfortable, it probably isn’t the best place to be.
  5. Try not to load yourself down with packages or bags as this can make you appear more vulnerable.
  6. Make sure your cell phone is with you and charged and that you have cab money.
  7. Don't allow yourself to be isolated with someone you don’t trust or someone you don’t know.
  8. Avoid putting music headphones in both ears so that you can be more aware of your surroundings, especially if you are walking alone.

Social gatherings present a number of additional considerations for your safety. The following precautions should be taken at parties or other gatherings.

  1. When you go to a social gathering, go with a group of friends. Arrive together, check in with each other throughout the evening, and leave together. Knowing where you are and who is around you may help you to find a way out of a bad situation.
  2. Trust your instincts. If you feel unsafe in any situation, go with your gut. If you see something suspicious, contact police immediately.
  3. Don't leave your drink unattended while talking, dancing, using the restroom, or making a phone call. If you’ve left your drink alone, just get a new one.
  4. Don't accept drinks from people you don't know or trust. If you choose to accept a drink, go with the person to the bar to order it, watch it being poured, and carry it yourself. At parties, don’t drink from the punch bowls or other large, common open containers.
  5. Watch out for your friends, and vice versa. If a friend seems out of it, is way too intoxicated for the amount of alcohol they’ve had, or is acting out of character, get him or her to a safe place and do not leave then unattended with others.
  6. If you suspect you or a friend has been drugged, contact law enforcement immediately (local authorities can be reached by calling 911 in most areas of the U.S.). Be explicit with doctors so they can give you the correct tests (you will need a urine test and possibly others).

How can I help prevent sexual assault?

If you see someone in danger of being assaulted:

  1. Step in and offer assistance. Ask if the person needs help. NOTE: Before stepping in, make sure to evaluate the risk. If it means putting yourself in danger, call 911.
  2. Don’t leave. If you remain at the scene and are a witness, the perpetrator is less likely to do anything.
  3. If you know the perpetrator, tell him or her that you do not approve of what he or she is doing. Ask him or her to leave the potential victim alone.

Be an ally:

  1. When you go to a party, go with a group of friends. Arrive together, check in with each other frequently and leave together.
  2. Have a buddy system. Don’t be afraid to let a friend know if you are worried about her/his safety.
  3. If you see someone who is intoxicated, offer to call him or her a cab or find him or her a safe ride home.

If someone you know has been assaulted:

  1. Listen. Be there. Don’t be judgmental.
  2. Be patient. Remember, it will take your friend time to heal both mentally and physically from the assault.
  3. Help to empower your friend. Sexual assault is a crime that takes away an individual’s power, it is important not to compound this experience by putting pressure on your friend to do things that he or she is not ready to do yet.
  4. Encourage your friend to report the rape to law enforcement. Crimes must be reported to the police agency where the crime occurred.
    • If you are unsure who to call, you can call Sonoma State University Police Services at (707) 664-4444 and we can help facilitate contact with the appropriate law enforcement agency.
    • Verity is the sexual assault advocacy agency in Sonoma County. An advocate can be reached 24/7 by calling (707) 545-7273 and Verity will also help facilitate contact with the appropriate law enforcement agency if the victim wishes.
    • Anywhere in the state of California, you can call 2-1-1 for assistance locating a law enforcement or advocacy agency.
  5. Help your friend locate additional support services. At Sonoma State University, assistance is available from Counseling and Psychological Services, the Student Health Center, the Multicultural Center, Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, Employee Relations and Compliance, Residential Life, Student Advocates for Education (SAFE) and others. Refer to the Resources section of our web site for more information.
  6. Provide long-term support for your friend. Healing from sexual assault is not an overnight process. Encourage him or her to seek support and counseling from licensed medical and mental health professionals.