Someone to Talk to on Campus…
If you are speaking with a professional who is fully confidential, then the information you disclose regarding sexual misconduct, including sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, and/or stalking will not be shared with anyone without your written consent.
- Student Health Services and Student Psychological Services (on campus)
- Verity, YWCA Hotline (off campus)
With the exception of Student Health Services and Student Psychological Services, all District employees have a duty to report information that comes to their attention of possible sexual misconduct.
Disclosing an incident:
The fact that the incident has occurred is disclosed without providing the District employee with names or locations pertaining to the misconduct.
In this case, the District employee will document the fact that the incident has occurred with the Title IX Office. A request for confidentiality involving cases of sexual misconduct will be reviewed to determine if the request can be honored under the circumstances of the specific case.
The Title IX Coordinator will weigh the request for confidentiality and the District’s duty to provide a safe campus environment free from discrimination.
Reporting an incident to the District: Names and locations pertaining to the misconduct are provided to the District employee.
In this case, the District must conduct an investigation.
Reporting the incident to a District employee is different than choosing to report to the police and filing a criminal complete.
Sexual misconduct is never the victim’s fault. Only those who commit sexual misconduct are responsible for their actions. If you have experienced sexual misconduct, you are encouraged to seek immediate police and medical assistance for your well-being. The following are steps you can take:
- Call 9-1-1 if you are in an emergency situation, immediate harm or threat of harm. Get to a safe environment.
- Preserve Evidence: Collecting evidence preserves the full range of options available to you through the District’s complaint procedure, criminal prosecution or in obtaining a protection order. To preserve evidence: do not shower or bathe; do not brush your teeth or use the restroom; do not wash or dispose of your clothing, linens or the area where the incident occurred; preserve text messages, voicemails, and other evidence. If you already cleaned up from the assault, you can still report the crime and seek medical or counseling treatment.
- Consider contacting confidential resources for support and guidance
- Consider reporting the incident to law enforcement: If you choose not to report to the police immediately following an incident, you can still make the report at a later time. However, with the passage of time, the ability to gather evidence to assist with criminal prosecution may be limited.
- Consider reporting the incident to the District’s Title IX Coordinator: The Title IX Coordinator will, to the extent possible, only share information with individuals responsible for handling the District’s response. Retaliation against you, by either students or employees, is strictly prohibited.
- Seek available resources, including medical attention: Prompt medical attention is important. Healthcare providers can treat physical injuries, and test for pregnancy and/or STDs.
You have a right to:
- Be treated with respect and dignity.
- Privacy. This means you can refuse to answer any questions about the sexual assault, your sexual orientation, your sexual, medical (including HIV status), and your mental health history.
- Have conversations with licensed counselors on campus or in the community.
- Decide whether or not you want police to investigate.
- Have an advocate/support person accompany you to the college, medical and legal proceedings.
- Ask questions and get answers regarding any tests, exams, medications, treatments or police reports.
- Be considered a victim/survivor of sexual assault, regardless of the offender’s relationship to you.
- Myth: Victims provoke sexual assaults when they dress provocatively or act in a promiscuous manner.
- Fact: Rape and sexual assault are crimes of violence and control that stem from a person’s determination to exercise power over another. Neither provocative dress nor promiscuous behaviors are invitations for unwanted sexual activity. Forcing someone to engage in non-consensual sexual activity is sexual assault, regardless of the way that person dresses or acts.
- Myth: If a person goes to someone’s room or house or goes to a bar, s/he assumes the risk of sexual assault. If something happens later, s/he can’t claim that s/he was raped or sexually assaulted because s/he should have known not to go to those places.
- Fact: This “assumption of risk” wrongfully places the responsibility of the offender’s action with the victim. Even if a person went voluntarily to someone’s home or room and consented to engage in some sexual activity, it does not serve as blanket consent for all sexual activity. When in doubt if the person is comfortable with an elevated level of sexual activity, stop and ask. When someone says “no” or “stop,” that means “STOP!” Sexual activity forced upon another without valid consent is sexual assault.
- Myth: It is not sexual assault if it happens after drinking or taking drugs.
- Fact: Being under the influence of alcohol or drugs is not an invitation for sexual activity. A person under the influence does not cause others to assault her/him; others choose to take advantage of the situation and sexually assault her/him because s/he is in a vulnerable position. A person who is incapacitated due to the influence of alcohol or drugs is not able to consent to sexual activity.
- Myth: Most sexual assaults are committed by strangers. It’s not rape if the people involved know each other.
- Fact: Most sexual assaults and rape are committed by someone the victim knows. A study of sexual victimization of college women showed that about 90% of victims knew the person who sexually victimized them. Most often, a boyfriend, ex-boyfriend, classmate, friend, acquaintance or co-worker sexually victimized the person. It is important to remember that sexual assault can occur in both heterosexual and same-gender relationships.
- Myth: Rape can be avoided if women avoid dark alleys or other “dangerous” places where strangers might be hiding or lurking.
- Fact: Rape and sexual assault can occur at any time, in many places, to anyone.
- Myth: A person who has really been sexually assaulted will be hysterical.
- Fact: Victims of sexual violence exhibit a spectrum of responses to the assault which can include: calm, hysteria, withdrawal, anxiety, anger, apathy, denial and shock. Being sexually assaulted is a very traumatic experience. Reaction to the assault and the length of time needed to process through the experience vary with each person. There is no “right way” to react to being sexually assaulted. Assumptions about the way a victim “should act” may be detrimental to the victim because each victim copes in different ways.
- Myth: All sexual assault victims will report the crime immediately to the police. If they do not report it or delay in reporting it, then they must have changed their minds after it happened, wanted revenge or didn’t want to look like they were sexually active.
- Fact: There are many reasons why a sexual assault victim may not report the assault to the police or campus officials. It is not easy to talk about being sexually assaulted and can feel very shameful. The experience of retelling what happened may cause the person to relive the trauma. Another reason for delaying a report or not making a report is the fear of retaliation by the offender. There is also the fear of being blamed, not being believed and being required to go through judicial proceedings. Just because a person does not report the sexual assault does not mean it did not happen.
- Myth: Only young, pretty women are assaulted.
- Fact: The belief that only young, pretty women are sexually assaulted stems from the myth that sexual assault is based on sex and physical attraction. Sexual assault is a crime of power and control. Offenders often choose people whom they perceive as most vulnerable to attack or over whom they believe they can assert power. Men and boys are also sexually assaulted, as well as persons with disabilities. Assumptions about the “typical” victim might lead others not to report the assault because they do not fit the stereotypical victim.
- Myth: It’s only rape if the victim puts up a fight and resists.
- Fact: Many states do not require the victim to resist in order to charge the offender with rape or sexual assault. Those who do not resist may feel if they do so, they will anger their attacker, resulting in more severe injury. Many assault experts say that victims should trust their instincts and intuition and do what they believe will most likely keep them alive. Not fighting or resisting an attack does not equal consent.
- Myth: Someone can only be sexually assaulted if a weapon was involved.
- Fact: In many cases of sexual assault, a weapon is not involved. The offender often uses physical strength, physical violence, intimidation, threats or a combination of these tactics to overpower the victim. Although the presence of a weapon while committing the assault may result in a higher penalty or criminal charge, the absence of a weapon does not mean that the offender cannot be held criminally responsible for a sexual assault.
Source: The Blue Bench: What is Sexual Assault?
Remember, sexual misconduct is never the victim’s fault. Only those who commit sexual misconduct are responsible for their actions. These suggestions are offered in the hope that recognizing behaviors or patters can reduce risk for sexual misconduct.
What can you do if you find yourself in an uncomfortable sexual situation?
- Make your limits known before things go too far.
- Give clear verbal or non-verbal messages. Say "yes" when you mean yes and "no" when you mean no. Leave no room for misinterpretation. Tell a sexual aggressor "NO" clearly and loudly, like you mean it.
- Try to remove yourself from the physical presence of a sexual aggressor.
- Ask for assistance from others that are nearby.
- Know your limits when it comes to using alcohol. Be responsible for your alcohol intake/drug use and realize that alcohol/drugs lower you sexual inhibitions and may make you more vulnerable to someone who views an intoxicated person as a sexual opportunity.
- Watch out for your friends and ask that they watch out for you. A real friend will get in your face if you are about to make a mistake. Respect them if they do.
- Be aware of any unintentional messages you may be sending that conflict with what you are saying. Notice your tone of voice, gestures and eye contact.
- Be forceful and firm when necessary. Don't be concerned with being polite. Your passivity may be interpreted as permission or approval for this behavior.
- Do not give into to something you do not want just to avoid unpleasantness. Do not allow "politeness" to trap you in a dangerous situation. This is not the time to be concerned about hurt feelings.
- Trust your feelings or instincts. If a situation does not feel comfortable to you or you feel anxious about the way your date is acting, you need to respond. Leave immediately if necessary.
How can I lower my risk of sexual assault?
There are things you can do to reduce your chances of being sexually assaulted. Follow these tips from the National Crime Prevention Council.
- Be aware of your surroundings - who's out there and what's going on.
- Walk with confidence. The more confident you look, the stronger you appear.
- Know your limits when it comes to using alcohol.
- Be assertive - don't let anyone violate your space.
- Trust your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable in your surroundings, leave.
- Don't prop open self-locking doors.
- Lock your door and your windows, even if you leave for just a few minutes.
- Watch your keys. Don't lend them. Don't leave them. Don't lose them. And don't put your name and address on the key ring.
- Watch out for unwanted visitors. Know who's on the other side of the door before you open it.
- Be wary of isolated spots, like underground garages, offices after business hours, and apartment laundry rooms.
- Avoid walking or jogging alone, especially at night. Vary your route. Stay in well-traveled, well-lit areas.
- Have your key ready to use before you reach the door - home, car or work.
- Park in well-lit areas and lock the car, even if you'll only be gone a few minutes.
- Drive on well-traveled streets, with doors and windows locked.
- Never hitchhike or pick up a hitchhiker.
- Keep your car in good shape with plenty of gas in the tank.
- In case of car trouble, call for help on your cellular phone. If you don't have a phone, put the hood up, lock the doors, and put a banner in the rear mirror that says, "Help. Call police."
How can I help a potential victim?
Please remember that your safety is of the utmost importance. When a situation that threatens physical harm to yourself or someone else, ask for help or contact the police.
- Notice the situation and trust your instincts. If a situation or person doesn’t seem “right” to you, trust your gut.
- Ask someone to help assist you. Being with others is a good idea to help you engage in the situation and maintain your safety.
- Diffuse situations. If you see a friend coming on too strong to someone who may be too drunk to make a consensual decision, interrupt, distract or redirect the situation. If you are too embarrassed or shy to speak out, get someone else to step in.
- Ask the person you are worried about if he/she is okay. If necessary, provide options for leaving the situation.
- Call the police (911).
How can I reduce my risk of being an initiator of sexual misconduct?
- Clearly communicate your intentions to your sexual partner and give them a chance to clearly relate their intentions to you.
- Understand and respect personal boundaries.
- Don’t make assumptions about consent, about someone’s sexual availability, about whether they are attracted to you, about how far you can go or about whether they are physically and/or mentally able to consent. If there are any questions or ambiguity then you DO NOT have consent.
- Mixed messages from your partner are a clear indication that you should stop, defuse any sexual tension and communicate better. You may be misreading them. Never take advantage of someone’s intoxicated state.
- Realize that your potential partner could be intimidated by you, or fearful. You may have a power advantage simply because of your gender or size. Don’t abuse that power.
- Consent is ongoing and must be given for each sexual act. Understand that consent to some form of sexual behavior does not automatically imply consent to any other forms of sexual behavior.
- Pay attention to verbal and non-verbal communication. Silence and passivity cannot be interpreted as an indication of consent. Read your potential partner carefully, paying attention to verbal and non-verbal communication and body language. Verbal communication is most clear.
If you have been accused of sexual misconduct, DO NOT contact the victim (Complainant). No contact includes, but is not limited to, contacting the Complainant in person, by phone, text message, social media, or through a third party. You may want to speak with someone in the campus community who can act as a support person. The Title IX Coordinator, or a Deputy Title IX Coordinator, can explain the District’s grievance procedures for addressing sexual misconduct complaints. You may also want to seek confidential counseling through Student Psychological Services or seek support through off campus services in the community.
Respondents may elect to be accompanied by an advisor of their choice, to investigative interviews or disciplinary proceedings, and may elect to retain legal counsel given the potential for criminal and/or civil action. Advisors are limited to observing and consulting with, and providing support to the Respondent. An Advisor may not speak on the Respondent’s behalf.
Throughout this process, both the complainant and respondent have the following rights:
- To be treated with respect by District officials.
- To take advantage of campus support resources, such as Student Psychological Services, Student Health Services, etc. (Note: Interim Suspension status will restrict access to on campus services)
- To experience a safe education and work environment.
- To have an advisor during an adjudication process.
- To be free of retaliation.
- To have complaints heard in accordance with policy and procedures.
- To fully participate in any process whether the injured party is serving as the complainant, or where the institution is serving as complainant.
- To be informed in writing of the progress of the investigation.
- To be notified concurrently, and in writing, of the outcome/resolution of the complaint, of any sanctions imposed, and the basis for the determination, and the right of appeal (when applicable).
The District reserves the right to take whatever measures it deems necessary in response to an allegation of sexual misconduct in order to protect students' rights and personal safety.
Such measures include, but are not limited to
- Modification of class assignments/arrangements
- Interim suspension from campus pending a hearing
- Reporting the matter to the local police
Not all forms of sexual misconduct will be deemed to be equally serious offenses, and the District reserves the right to impose different sanctions, ranging from verbal warning to expulsion, depending on the severity of the offense. The District will consider the concerns and rights of both the complainant and the person accused of sexual misconduct.
WHO DO I CONTACT?
Vice President of Human Resources & Title IX Coordinator
Dean, Disabled Students Programs and Services & Deputy Title IX Coordinator (Santa Rosa)
Dean of Student Services & Deputy Title IX Coordinator (Petaluma)