What is sexual assault?
Sexual assault is any sexual contact that occurs without the explicit consent of the people involved in the contact. Sexual assault includes forced sexual intercourse, attempted rape, and fondling. If anything happens without clear, explicit consent, at a given time, it may be considered sexual assault.
What is consent?
Consent is direct, active, agreement to engage in an activity.
- Anything that prevents the ability to give consent, such as drugs or alcohol, increases the likelihood of sexual assault. Someone who is drunk cannot give consent to sexual activity. "Softening her (or him) up" with alcohol means sexual assault.
- Consent is given continuously. Just because you have slept with someone before does not mean you have to sleep with them again or engage in any other form of sexual activity later.
- Silence is not consent. Make it a habit to make sure your partner is comfortable with everything you are doing, especially when just starting a relationship. Although this may make us uncomfortable - society has conditioned us to be silent about desire - communication and consent are essential. Check out Driver's Ed for the Sexual Superhighway for ideas on how to make getting consent sexy.
What if I am sexually assaulted?
If you have experienced sexual assault, please know that you are not alone. There are many people who will provide support.
As soon as possible, get to a safe place. This may be to the HOPE Center, Public Safety, your own home/dorm, to an RA, to a friend or family member, or simply a public place. Your physical safety is a priority.
Once you are in a safe place, it is often helpful to contact someone for support. Many people who have experienced a sexual assault feel shame or guilt and try to avoid others as a result. This is perfectly normal and natural, but the assault is NOT your fault.
Reaching out to others and seeking support can be a huge help in the recovery process. In addition to contacting a friend or family member consider contacting:
1. The HOPE Center (570-484-2111; hours vary by semester)
2. The Clinton County Women's Center at (570) 748-9509, a 24 hour hotline (Lock Haven campus)
3. PASSAGES, Inc at (814) 371-9677 (Clearfield campus)
4. A Way Out at (877) 334-3136 (Coudersport)
5. YWCA Greater Harrisburg at (800) 654-1211 (Dixon Center)
Please consider seekingmedical attention to protect against pregnancy and STDs as well as to ensure you have no physical injuries. The closest places for medical treatment are
- Glennon Infirmary (Glennon Building)
- Lock Haven Hospital (24 Cree Drive) - can also do forensic examination
- Clearfield Hospital (809 Turnpike Ave) if you are in Clearfield County - can also do forensic examination
- Pinnacle Health Harrisburg Campus (111 South Front St) if you are in Dauphin County - can also do forensic examination
- Cole Memorial Hospital (1001 E. Second St) if you are in Potter County
What happens next?
After the assault, you may find that you need more than the social support of friends or family. This is completely normal and you should not hesitate to seek counseling from others. Lock Haven University's Counseling Center (570-484-2479) is available for psychological counseling, while the Clinton County Women's Center, PASSAGES, YWCA Greater Harrisburg, and A Way Out offer options counseling, a type of social support counseling that focuses more on available resources than psychological therapies. You may also find talking to a spiritual leader helpful.
It is also important to consider reporting the assault. You can choose to report the assault anonymously or formally. Please visit our reporting page for more information. The page also explains legal requirements that the University has in reporting sexual assault.
An anonymous report should be made to Public Safety and to the University Title IX Coordinator (Deana Hill) or Deputy Title IX Coordinator (Jamie Shipe). If you would rather not make the report by yourself, please contact the HOPE Center and we will assist you in making a report. We understand the difficulty in making a formal report - and the danger. If you choose to make an anonymous report, we will not pressure you in any way to make it a formal report. However, anonymous reports of sexual assault, relationship violence, and stalking to the Title IX Coordinator must include your name. Your name is privileged information; the Title IX Coordinator will follow up with you to make sure you are aware of your rights, but will not conduct any formal investigations if you request that the information go no further. The Title IX Coordinator, however, must look into any patterns within the University that may have contributed to the violence.
A formal report can be made if you would like to press charges. If the assault occurs on Lock Haven's campus, you should contact Public Safety to make a report. If the assault occurs in Lock Haven, you should contact the Lock Haven Police Department. If the assault occurs in Clearfield, you should contact the Clearfield Borough Police Department ((814)765-7819). If the assault occurs in Dauphin County (the Dixon Center), you should contact the Harrisburg City Police ((717) 533-3131). If the assault occurs in Potter County (Coudersport), you should contact the Coudersport Police Department ((814) 274-8970).
While seeking medical attention, you are not required to have a forensic examination. However, if you are considering making a formal report, it is important to gather the evidence provided by a forensic examination.
What is a forensic examination?
A forensic exam is an exam to collect and preserve evidence from a sexual assault that may be used to find, try, and convict those who commit the assault. It can be done at any hospital and some medical centers. The first step in a forensic exam is to collect hair, skin, or DNA that the assaulter may have left behind. If you are considering a formal report, please do not do anything that might destroy that evidence. This means avoiding:
- taking a shower
- going to the bathroom
- changing clothes
- combing your hair
A doctor or nurse will comb your hair, preserve your clothes, and collect samples (such as skin under your nails). They may also document any injuries. You have the right to refuse to any part of the exam (or all of it). The evidence from the examination, though, can be used if you decide to press charges later.
You may request that someone be with you (a friend, family member, or advocate, such as someone from the Clinton County Women's Center) during any part of the exam.
What if someone I know is sexually assaulted?
The statistics on the number of people who experience a sexual assault are terrible. Odds are high that you will know someone during your college career that has been sexually assaulted. That person may lean on you for social support. This can be overwhelming, but being supportive often comes down to simply listening to your friend. Here are some tips for supporting someone who has experienced a sexual assault.
- Be a good listener; listen respectfully and without passing judgment.
- Respect the person's privacy. Do not pressure the person to say anything.
- Believe the person - do not question his or her story, simply trust that it is the truth.
- Be patient. The healing process differs for everyone; it takes longer for some than others.
- Give the person the power - don't offer advice, ask how you can help.
- If the person asks for help, be able to offer sources of support.
- The HOPE Center
- the Clinton County Women's Center, PASSAGES, A Way Out,or YWCA Greater Harrisburg
- The Counseling Center
- Public Safety
- Remain aware of your own needs; if you need to seek help and support, do so.
- Understand that you may be required by Title IX or Clery to report what you have learned to the Title IX Coordinator. Be honest with your friend about this. Recognize any discomfort you feel about having to report. Your discomfort is completely valid; share it with the person who has talked with you as well.