This leaflet contains information about sexual assault, sexual harassment, and stalking, and what you as a University of Mary Washington student can do if any of these things happens to you or to a friend. We appreciate that these are difficult subjects, and hope that this resource will serve as a sensitive and compassionate information guide to anyone who needs it.
Sexual Harassment: Gender-based verbal or physical conduct that unreasonably interferes with or deprives someone of education access, benefits or opportunities.
- Hostile Environment harassment includes any situation in which there is harassing conduct that is sufficiently severe, pervasive or persistent, and patently offensive, such that it alters the conditions of education or employment, from both a subjective (the alleged victim’s) and an objective (a reasonable person’s) viewpoint.
- Quid pro quo sexual harassment occurs when:
1. Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical
conduct of a sexual nature are committed and
2. Submission to and/or rejection of such conduct results or may result in adverse
educational or employment action.
- Retaliatory harassment is any adverse action taken against a person because of the person’s participation in a complaint or investigation of discrimination or sexual misconduct.
Non-Consensual Sexual Intercourse: Any sexual penetration (anal, oral or vaginal, however slight with any object) by man or woman upon a man or a woman without consent. *
Non-Consensual Sexual Contact: Any intentional sexual touching, however slight, with any object, by a man or woman, without consent.*
Sexual Exploitation: Taking non-consensual or abusive sexual advantage of another for one’s own advantage or benefit, or taking the same to benefit or to the advantage of anyone other than the person being exploited.
What is Consent?
In order for individuals to engage in sexual activity of any type with one another, there must be clear consent. Consent is sexual permission. Consent can be given by word or action, but non-verbal consent is less clear than talking about what you want and what you don’t want. Consent to some form of sexual activity cannot be automatically interpreted as consent to any other sexual activity. Silence without actions demonstrating permission cannot be assumed to indicate consent; the absence of a “no” does not mean “yes.”
There is a difference between seduction and coercion. coercing someone into sexual activity violates this sexual conduct policy just as much as physically forcing someone into sex. Coercion happens when someone unreasonably pressures someone else for sex. When alcohol or other drugs are being used, someone will be considered unable to give valid consent if they cannot appreciate the who, what, when, where, why, or how of a sexual interaction. Individuals who consent to sex must be able to understand what they are doing. Under this policy, “no” always means “no,” and “yes” may not always mean “yes.”
What if an incident of sexual misconduct may have happed to me?
What should I do?
Please consider telling someone. By telling someone, you are helping yourself to ge the support you need. You also may be helping others. In addition to the Title IX Coordinator, Dr. Leah Cox located in George Washington Hall 113 or telephone number: (540) 654-2119, other people yo may tell are:
- University or local police
- A Residence Life staff member
- The Dean of Student Life
- The Office of Judicial Affairs
- Talley Center for Counseling Services
- Health Center
- Any staff and/or faculty member you feel safe with
Sexual Assault – The basics
- Sexual Assault: What is It?
Sexual assault is any kind of sexual contact that occurs without consent OR through coercion or manipulation. In many instances the victim knows the assailant; this is acquaintance sexual assault.
- Sexual Assault Can Happen to Anyone
Contrary to popular myth, sexual assailants and their victims come from all walks of life. Sexual assailants and their victims may be of any age, gender, race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic group. Sexual assault can occur in heterosexual and same-sex relationships.
- How Victims Often Feel
There are as many reactions to sexual assault as there are victims. Some common feelings are numbness, intense fear, anger, depression, feelings of betrayal, and while undeserved, shame and guilt. Victims also often experience sleep and appetite changes, physical aches and pain, increased use of alcohol, and avoidance of usual friends, places and activities. Sexual assault can lead to serious disruptions in relationships, work, education and daily life.
If You Are Assaulted, Some Steps To Consider:
• Get to a place where you feel safe.
• Consider getting a physical and forensic exam. The perpetrator may have had an STD that requires treatment. An AIDS/HIV test is also recommendable although six months must elapse before HIV can accurately be detected. A qualified physician or nurse will examine you for injuries and collect physical evidence that could be used in criminal proceedings, if you decide to prosecute. Mary Washington Hospital nurses have been trained and certified by the Virginia Division of Forensic Science with administering the Sexual Assault Nurse Examination (SANE) Program that aids the victim with this process.
If the assault occurred within the past 24 hours, don’t bathe, don’t change clothes or linens, and don’t douche as this can destroy physical evidence of the assault.
• Tell someone you trust.
• Report the assault to the University Police, and to the Office of Judicial Affairs and Community Responsibility. Consider reporting even if you are uncertain whether you wish to file criminal or on-campus judicial charges. You are in control. Additional information about these options is given in this booklet. If you desire, the Office of Judicial Affairs and Community Responsibility (654-1660) can issue a “no contact” letter to the assailant barring him or her from contacting you in any way – in person; via telephone, e-mail, or instant messaging; through a third party; etc.
• Seek counseling. Early intervention helps survivors recover. The the counseling center staff is available, as are off-campus resources.
What If It’s A Friend Who Has Been Assaulted?
Understand the myths and realities of sexual assault. Remember that sexual assault is an act of violence and aggression, and not about sexual needs or attraction. Victims are never responsible for the assault even if they had been drinking, had been walking alone, had invited the assailant to their room, and so on. Asking questions about these issues, or about whether victims fought back or called for help is not supportive, and might reinforce stereotypes about sexual assault.
Understand your friend’s immediate and long-term needs and concerns.
Every assault victim responds to the trauma in his or her own way. Don’t assume you know what kind of support your friend would like. It’s okay to ask! And don’t worry that asking will remind him or her of the assault. Victims don’t forget the assault, and your concern will mean a lot. Even though circumstances and feelings vary, there are some common issues that victims often confront. These include the need for medical attention, decisions about a forensic exam, concerns about STDs and pregnancy, wondering if or how to tell family and other friends, and decisions about reporting to the authorities. If the assailant was an acquaintance, the victim might worry about encountering him or her in a class or on the job. Ultimately your friend will value your support as he or she returns to everyday activities, regains a sense of control, and integrates the experience into his or her life.
Recognize and accept his/her feelings.
First and foremost, believe your friend! Ask how he or she is feeling and listen to what they tell you. There is no “right” way to respond to an assault, so don’t be surprised and don’t pressure your friend to feel as you think he or she “ought” to. He or she might feel anger, but guilt and shame also are common emotions, even though they are unwarranted. Your friend might worry about what others will think, and if the assault happened in the context of a relationship, he or she might even worry about the assailant’s well being. Don’t make supporting your friend contingent on their feeling a certain way or taking certain actions. Support their autonomy!
Recognize and accept your own feelings
It’s natural to have strong feelings if a friend has been assaulted, but your anger and your reactions shouldn’t interfere with supporting your friend. You might have different feelings, or feel differently about your friend’s choices but this isn’t about you. Do take care of yourself, though, and seek support for yourself if you need to.
Communicate compassion and support
Don’t interrogate your friend about what happened, but do be available to talk if your friend wishes. Your role is not to be a detective or a judge; it is to be a support.
Victims of sexual assault temporarily lose control over their life and body – it is important that their decisions are respected now, even if you disagree with their choices. Your friend may make different decisions than you would make and that is his or her right – don’t use pressure or guilt.
If you are an intimate partner…
Don’t pressure your partner to resume sexual activity before he or she is ready, but don’t withdraw physically either. Understand that their responses and desires may be different (for a while) – this is also not about you! Do be open, receptive, patient and emotionally available.
Learn about supportive resources on campus and in the community.
Share a copy of this booklet with your friend!
You Can Reduce Your Risk of Sexual Assault…
• Examine your feelings about sexual activity and know your own limits.
Think and plan ahead. Know your own values. Be aware of social pressures. Remember, you have the right to stop sexual activity at any time.
• Communicate your sexual desires and limits clearly.
Don’t make assumptions about another’s wishes or limits based on his/her appearance or current or past behavior.ask and talk.
• Be independent.
Go out in groups, bring your own money, tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return, consider meeting a date in a public place, stay alert and aware of your surroundings.
• Avoid excessive use of alcohol and drugs
Alcohol and drugs interfere with thinking, responsible decision-making, and effective communication.
• Trust your feelings.
If a situation feels unsafe or if you feel pushed or coerced, listen to your intuition. Then act to protect yourself.
• Remember, if you say NO, it means NO.
If you say NO or if you are uncertain about continuing, or think your partner hasn’t understood how far you want to go, STOP, then talk.
• Know emergency phone numbers and the locations of emergency phones.
On campus, dial University Police at ‘777’ in the event of an emergency. Off campus, dial ‘911.’ Consider carrying a cell phone.
• Learn how to fight back if an assault occurs.
The University Police offer Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) training. Contact their office at 654-1025 for more details.
You Can Reduce Your Risk of Being an Assailant . . .
• Limit your use of alcohol. “But I was drunk.” is never a valid excuse for sexual assault!
• Consider your partner’s use of alcohol (or other drugs) too . Alcohol and other drugs interfere with one’s judgment and ability to communicate clearly. Has s/he had too much to consent to sexual activity? If you’re not sure, stop and wait until you’re both sober. Remember that someone who is drunk, high, asleep or not fully alert for any reason may lack the capacity to consent, even if he or she says “yes”! This might seem like common sense, but forgotten this is the root of many sexual assaults. If you’re not sure about your partner’s sobriety or alertness, the best thing to do is STOP!
• Don’t assume you know what your partner wants. Ask and communicate clearly about your sexual desires and limits. If you feel you are getting unclear messages, stop and talk about it.
• Consent in the past does not mean consent in the present! Just because you and a partner have been sexually active in the past does not mean that s/he is consenting right now. Be sure you’re both in agreement about what’s happening between you.
• Sexual assault is aggression , pure and simple . and that’s not cool . Whether you call it scoring or hooking up or whatever, any type of sexual activity (this includes touching, fondling) without consent is sexual assault. And that’s what the university judicial system and the criminal courts will call it too. Instead of being known as a stud or a player, you could be known as a sex offender – don’t risk it, and don’t put others at risk either.
Responding to Sexual Assault
Sexual assault is a crime punishable by both civil and criminal legal action. The University’s judicial system, administered through the Office of Judicial Affairs and Community Responsibility, adjudicates, at the request of the victim, all cases involving sex offenses in which the alleged assailant is a Mary Washington student. The University also encourages victims to prosecute alleged assailants to the fullest extent of the law. There are several avenues for assistance if a person becomes the victim of a sex offense.
University Police works with the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office Victim/Witness Assistance Director in Fredericksburg to protect the rights of victims and witnesses of crimes. Responsiveness to the needs of crime victims is a priority of the Police Department.
Legal and Judicial Options
Victims are not limited to just one of the following options, but can choose any combination, including filing all three types of charges. Below is a description of each option:
• Criminal Charges : Filing criminal charges means going to the police. If the assault happened on campus it falls under the jurisdiction of the University Police (654-1025). If the assault occurred in another community, then the University Police will assist with contacting the appropriate police agency.
The Commonwealth Attorney, not the individual victim, prosecutes criminal charges. The prosecuting attorney for the Commonwealth will argue the case in the court at no cost to the victim. The victim serves as the primary witness to the crime, and his or her testimony is crucial to the case. Criminal cases may take considerable time to proceed through the criminal justice system. Typically, the press protects the identity of the victim, although the identity of the assailant is not.
• University Judicial Charges : Campus judicial charges can be filed only if the alleged assailant is a University of Mary Washington student. The victim is typically a member of the UMW community as well. The campus judicial system examines whether or not University policy (not the law) has been violated. Campus judicial hearings do not take the place of or preclude criminal prosecutions, and students who choose a campus judicial hearing may additionally seek redress through the criminal justice system and/or the civil court system. The Dean of Student Life or designee (654-1200) will provide information to the victim about options for pursuing a charge against the assailant through the University’s judicial process. In the University’s judicial hearings, the standard of evidence used is “preponderance of evidence,” which means that if the evidence presented suggests that it is more likely than not that the alleged assailant was in violation of a charge, s/he will be found responsible for the charge.
• Civil Court Charges : Sexual assault victims have the right to sue the assailant or other involved parties for monetary damages. This type of legal proceeding, which may be pursued alone or in conjunction with criminal and/or campus judicial charges, does require an attorney. As with campus judicial action, the burden of proof is a preponderance of evidence. Victims considering this type of prosecution are advised to consult a private attorney for information.
Third Party Sexual Assault Reporting
Victims of sexual assaults who are reluctant to contact the police directly may file a “Third Party Sexual Assault” report via a third person to the UMW Police Department. These reports are not counted as actual crime offenses unless they have been fully investigated by the police. These reports are utilized as a method to provide the victim with medical and psychological assistance, and the statistics are used to determine areas in which additional sexual assault awareness programming may be needed.
Sexual Misconduct Policy
The University’s Sexual Misconduct Policy is also fully outlined in the Student Handbook. The UMW community will not tolerate sexual misconduct in any form, including acquaintance rape and stalking. Nor will it tolerate aiding another in the commission of any form of sexual misconduct. These are serious violations of the UMW Statement of Community Values and constitute violations of University regulations, which are punishable through the judicial system. This policy may apply off-campus as well. This policy will also apply in any situation where the College has reasonable responsibility to believe that the safety and welfare of the College community require action pursuant to this policy.
Sexual misconduct includes: rape; forcible sodomy; forcible cunnilingus or fellatio; sexual penetration with an inanimate object; fondling or touching an unwilling person’s genitalia, groin, breast or buttocks (covered or uncovered); or forcing an unwilling person to touch another’s intimate parts (genitalia, groin, breast, or buttocks). More specifically, sexual misconduct includes acquaintance rape/sexual misconduct, defined as any of the aforementioned acts undertaken by a friend or acquaintance without consent, or when the victim is incapable of giving consent, such as when the victim is physically or mentally incapacitated by alcohol or other drugs. Sexual misconduct occurs when a person is subjected to any of the above acts against his/her will, either by force, threat, intimidation, or through use of the victim’s mental or physical helplessness of which the accused was aware or should have been aware. Aiding another in the commission of any of the aforementioned acts, whether by physical restraint or otherwise rendering a person incapacitated shall also be a violation of this policy. The recording or broadcasting of sexual activity without the consent or knowledge of parties involved shall be considered a violation of this policy.
Sexual misconduct also involves stalking. Stalking is defined under Section 18.2-60.3 of the Virginia Code and includes any behavior directed at another person, on more than one occasion, that the stalker intends, knows, or reasonably should know, places the other person in reasonable fear of death, criminal sexual assault, or bodily injury to that person. Examples of stalking behaviors include, but are not limited to, the following: non-consensual communication, including face-to-face, telephone calls, voice messages, email, written letters; unwanted gifts; threatening or obscene gestures; pursuing or following; surveillance or other observation; trespassing; vandalism; and non-consensual touching.
A tragic outcome of campus sexual assault is that most students remain silent. In fact, because the act is perpetrated by a trusted acquaintance, many students do not recognize that they have been assaulted. These silent victims can experience profound and long-lasting changes in their lives-psychologically, socially, developmentally, and academically. The University of Mary Washington recognizes the need to be responsive to the problem of sexual assault on campus and is committed to providing programs/services that are both educational/preventative, as well as remedial in nature. The goal is to increase awareness and educate the entire campus community as well as to provide an environment that assists the victim in the recovery process.
- Education and Prevention
The University realizes the importance of professionally trained staff and encourages participation in training in sexual assault issues on an annual basis. Residence Life, the counseling center, Health Center , and University Police staffs, in particular, are prepared to respond appropriately in the event of a student assault. They are trained regarding the prevalence of sexual assault, how and where it happens, its impact on the victim, the role of alcohol and drugs, and appropriate action to be taken when assault occurs.
Education for the student body at large is accomplished through the distribution of educational materials; class, organizational, and residence hall programming, including a mandatory first-year program; and special campus-wide events, such as Sexual Assault Month and Alcohol Awareness Week.
Campus security has been enhanced through installation of security telephones outlying areas of the campus and the provision of evening escort service. University Police provide information to students stressing the importance of residence hall security and encourage reporting of sexual assaults on campus. Police also report incidents of sexual assault according to the Crime Awareness and Campus Security Act of 1990.
- Prosecution Procedures
We strongly encourage students who have been sexually assaulted to report the crime, either for adjudication within the University of Mary Washington system and/or prosecution within the local justice system. Reporting the assault may enhance the victim’s recovery and may make possible the receipt of needed services. Reporting also possibly prevents future assaults on other women/men by the victim’s assailant. A student who has been assaulted has the option of prosecuting his/her assailant within the University’s judicial system. This process is initiated by contacting the Dean of Student Life. The Dean of Student Life or designee will then initiate the Student Conduct Hearing Board process. This procedure is detailed in the Student Handbook. The Student Conduct Hearing Board will be trained annually regarding the appropriate handling of sexual assault cases. Throughout the disciplinary process, the victim is assured the following rights:
- The right to have a person of her/his choice accompany her/him throughout the disciplinary process.
- The right to have the proceedings remain confidential.
- The right to be present during the entire proceeding except during deliberation and sanctioning.
- The right, as established in state criminal codes, not to have her or his sexual history discussed during the hearing, except as it relates to the specific incident in question.
- The right to relate her/his account of the incident and to make a “victim impact statement.”
- The right to a closed hearing (with the assailant present) during her/his testimony.
Victims who may have been in violation of the University’s alcohol policy leading up to or during the assault – for example, a victim who was intoxicated – will NOT be charged with such violations by the University’s judicial system. It is the University’s intention to assist victims in holding the alleged offenders accountable for their actions, and to remove barriers to reporting and adjudicating sexual misconduct.
The University of Mary Washington does not tolerate sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is a form of sexual discrimination and, as such, is illegal behavior. Moreover, sexual harassment subverts the mission of the University by undermining the positive working and educational environment that the University is committed to provide for all students, personnel, and visitors.
The University’s administrators are responsible for taking reasonable steps to prevent and remedy sexual harassment. Such steps include educating the University community about what sexual harassment is, how it may be reported, and how it is investigated and addressed. Individuals who believe that they may have experienced sexual harassment by a College employee are encouraged to consult the Student Handbook or the University’s AA/EEO Officer (654-1046) for more information. The information presented in this booklet deals with student-to-student sexual harassment specifically.
Definitions of Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment is distinguished from consenting sexual behavior by the introduction of the element of coercion. Harassment on the basis of sex is a violation of Sec. 703 of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when such conduct intentionally or unintentionally interferes with a student’s work, academic performance, or participation in extracurricular activities. The intentional or unintentional creation of an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work or study environment may also constitute sexual harassment. Sexual harassment may involve the behavior of a person of either gender against a person of the same or the opposite gender. Also, sexual harassment may affect not only the person who is its target, but also other individuals in that environment who have witnessed such harassment.
The fact that a student did not intend to sexually harass another student is generally not considered a defense to a complaint of sexual harassment. It is the effect and characteristics of the behavior that determine if the behavior constitutes sexual harassment. The University will consider charges of sexual harassment on a case-by-case basis. In determining whether conduct constitutes sexual harassment, the University will consider the facts of the incident(s) as a whole, including the circumstances or context in which the incident(s) occurred.
Examples of Sexual Harassment
Listed below are some types of behaviors that, according to legal precedents, may constitute sexual harassment. This list is not exclusive.
• Physical molestation;
• Offers of money or rewards for sex;
• Unwelcome patting or pinching, constant brushing against another student’s body; repeated brushes or touches;
• Pressure for sexual activity, including repeated requests for social contacts after a student has indicated no interest;
• Unwelcome and repeated verbal expressions of a sexual nature, including sexual commentaries about a student’s body, dress, appearance, or sexual activities;
• Unwelcome and repeated use of sexually degrading language, jokes, or innuendoes; unwelcome and repeated suggestive or insulting sounds or whistles; sexually suggestive phone calls;
• Sexually suggestive objects, pictures, videotapes, audio recordings, or literature, that might embarrass or offend individuals, placed in a work or study area.
The purpose of the complaint procedure is to address sexual harassment complaints through the University’s judicial system. The judicial body that hears such complaints is the Student Conduct Hearing Board. The Board is comprised of students, teaching faculty members, and staff members appointed by the President of the University, and trained in issues surrounding incidents of sexual misconduct and sexual harassment. The Board is chaired by the Director of Judicial Affairs and Community Responsibility or designee. The Student Conduct Hearing Board and the hearing procedures are explained more fully in the Student Handbook, but are much the same as they are for sexual assault or any other kind of sexual misconduct. To initiate a formal complaint of sexual harassment in which the harasser is another student, contact the Dean of Student Life (654-1200) or the Director of Judicial Affairs and Community Responsibility (654-1660).
• Health Center 654-1040
“No contact” orders
Adjudication through the Student Conduct Hearing Board
Crisis Intervention – staff members are trained to offer paraprofessional support and assistance to recent victims of a sexual assault
Legal assistance and victim advocacy
24 hr Crisis Intervention/ER Response
• City Health Department 899-4142
Emergency Medical Care
Forensic Medical Exams
• Fredericksburg Police 373-3122 (Emergencies: ‘911’) (If a sexual assault occurs off campus)