Sexual Assault Response
If you, or someone you know, is a survivor of rape or sexual assault, the following offices can assist in providing a private, safe and supportive space to talk, an opportunity to understand options for on-campus and off-campus reporting procedures, and assist in addressing other campus concerns for the survivor.
The college’s Sexual Assault Response Coordinator will inform complainants, at a minimum, of the options of the internal complaint process, availability of confidential counseling, addressing concerns about physical safety, possibility of alternative housing assignments, and academic alternatives.
Director of Student Development/ Sexual Assault Response Coordinator
Beth Anne Langrell
Local Emergency, Police, Fire and Ambulance
9-911 (From an on campus phone)
911 (From an off campus/cell phone)
The following offices offer confidential counseling services and health care. These offices can also provide a safe and supportive space to talk as well as an opportunity to understand options for on-campus and off-campus reporting procedures.
Dr. Bonnie Fisher
For All Seasons, Inc. Sexual Assault Crisis Center
This is a free 24-hour confidential service that provides crisis and on-going counseling and support to survivors. Advocates are available to meet survivors at the hospital and support them during any time spent at the hospital.
There are two area hospitals that have sexual assault response programs in place. Forensic Nurse Examiners are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to provide confidential medical examination, STI and pregnancy prophylactics. The programs work in conjunction with For All Seasons, Inc. to provide advocacy support to victims. Chester River Hospital Center and the Memorial Hospital at Easton has a Sexual Assault Response Team program that includes Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners, advocates and a Jane Doe reporting option. (Jane Doe reporting allows survivors to have a complete Rape Kit without informing law enforcement.) In addition, they also offer STI and STD testing and prophylactic treatment for all patients. The emergency room staff will work with any survivor to ensure the best possible care during a hospital visit.
- Chester River Hospital Center, 410-778-3300 - located adjacent to Washington College
- Memorial Hospital in Easton, Maryland, 410-822-1000
What are suggested rape prevention strategies*?
One step to creating a safer environment is for both men and women to clearly and openly communicate about what they want and do not want sexually. Clear and open communication is crucial in any sexual situation.
- Examine your needs and desires before you get into a sexual situation.
- Clearly tell your partner what you want. If there are limits that you want to maintain, state what they are and stick to them.
- Clearly ask your partner what he/she wants.
- Listen to each other.
- Be aware of non-verbal cues, but do not rely on them. If you are not sure, ask.
- Challenge the myths and stereotypes. Challenge your friends who minimize rape or don’t understand it, who accept definitions of sex and gender roles that include forcing someone to have sex or getting them too drunk to say “No.” Talk with friends and give one another the opportunity to be assertive, respectful, honest and caring.
- Think about your sexual desires and limits and how you respond to social pressures. How do alcohol and/or drugs affect your sexual-decision making? How do you learn someone else’s desires and limits? How do you express your own? Knowing these things before going on a date can help prevent any misunderstandings later.
- Communicate clearly and be assertive. Saying “yes” or “no” may be difficult, but it is important. Passive or polite approaches can be misunderstood or ignored. Be direct and firm with someone who is pressuring you. Tell your partner what you want or don’t want.
- If you feel uncomfortable during a conversation, perhaps as a result of hearing dirty jokes or derogatory remarks, stop the conversation. If you feel uncomfortable because of unwanted physical contact, such as rubbing your back or stroking your hair without your permission, ask or tell the person to stop.
- If you are uncertain about what you want, stop and talk about it. It is okay to be unsure, and perhaps it means you want to wait. Remember that saying “no” now does not mean that you will never want to have sex with this person and saying “yes” doesn’t mean you can’t change your mind.
- Trust your instincts. Even if you can’t explain why you feel a certain way, you have the right to trust your feelings and have them respected.
- Listen carefully to what the other person is saying and pay attention to what is happening around you. Are you getting mixed messages? If so, stop. Explain why you are confused. Do you understand the other person? If not, ask rather than assume. Talk together about what would be most enjoyable for each of you. Always watch for nonverbal clues.
- Remember that effective and assertive communication may not always work. Sometimes people just don’t listen. However, no one ever deserves to be raped!
General Strategies for Safety
- Avoid secluded places.
- Tell someone where you are going and have a way to get home.
- Know your limits and observe them. Alcohol and drugs impair everyone’s perception and judgement.
- Watch your drink carefully; do not leave your drink unattended or accept one from someone you do not know well or trust.
- Trust your instincts. If you feel something is wrong, do not ignore your feelings.
- Assert yourself. If you do not like something that your partner is doing, tell them clearly and firmly to stop.
- Use a buddy system when you go to parties. Before you go to the party, agree with your friends when you are going to leave, or under what circumstances you will leave each other.
- Agree upon signals to give your friends that will indicate needing an “escape” or a way out if a situation becomes uncomfortable. Don’t be afraid to intervene if you think your friend is in a bad situation.
Developing Safe Habits
- Learn the locations of the blue-light phones and access phones on campus (there is a map in the general safety booklet). Blue-light phones connect directly to the emergency line at Public Safety.
- Walk with others after dark. Avoid shortcuts and wooded areas; stay on lighted walkways.
- Call Public Safety for an escort if you will be walking alone at night.
- Let your friends know the route you are taking and when to expect you. Call ahead.
- Notice cars that pull up beside you or pass you more than once.
- Pay attention to footsteps and voices.
- If you are followed, stay in a lighted area and seek safety in a public building where there are other people. If you are on campus, find a phone.
At Home or in Residential Houses
- Have your keys in your hand well before you get to your destination. If you feel you are being watched, get help. Go to a neighbor’s door, an access phone, or the Public Safety office.
- Close and lock the door immediately when entering a residential building. Always keep room doors locked, especially when you are sleeping, and do not prop open outside doors.
- Be sensible with your keys and FOBS - don’t leave them in an outside hiding place. Report all lost or stolen College keys and FOBS as soon as possible.
- Be careful about letting acquaintances sleep in your room or home.
- Vouch for visitors to a residential building only if you know them. Report unauthorized persons or suspicious behavior to the residence life staff, or the Department of Public Safety immediately.
- Know who is at the door before opening it. Ask for identification from anyone you don’t know or feel uncomfortable about. If a stranger requests to use your telephone to call for help, offer to place the call for him or her rather than to invite the stranger into your home or room. If you live alone off campus, or with other women, use only your first initials on your mailbox and in telephone directories.
- Use caution over the phone. Never reveal your phone number or name to a wrong number caller. Don’t reveal to a caller that you are alone. Be wary of telephone surveys, especially ones that ask for personal information. If you don’t know who the person is, hang up. Warn roommates not to give out personal information over the phone.
- Be alert in laundromats and laundry rooms. Try not to go alone.
- Report burned-out lights and broken locks, doors, and windows to Building and Grounds immediately.
- Know which neighbors you could call in an emergency.
- Take public safety and security regulations seriously.
- Have your keys ready in your hand as you approach the car.
- Have your doors locked at all times, and your windows up whenever possible.
- Check your back seat before you get into your car.
- Park in a well-lit area.
- Don’t go to your car alone at night if you can avoid it.
- Always make sure you have enough gas, and your car is in good repair, before you leave.
- Never pick up hitchhikers.
- Consider carrying a cellular phone.
- If you suspect you are being followed, drive into a busy, well-lit establishment and call a law enforcement agency. If you know the location of the local police department, drive there and ask for help.
- Signal for help by raising the hood of your car if you have car trouble. Remain in your car with the doors locked until help arrives. Make sure the assistance is legitimate. If another motorist offers help, stay in your car and ask the motorist to call the police or auto club.
- Don’t stop if you see a disabled vehicle on the highway, but report it and send help for the driver.
*Adopted in part from “Acquaintance Rape”, a publication of the American College Health Association.
What To Do
If a friend who has been sexually assaulted asks for your help, you can support her/him by providing what comfort you can and encouraging her/him to receive the necessary medical aid. You can also ensure that if she/he chooses, they take the appropriate steps for reporting the incident to public safety or the police. It is helpful for you to accompany your friend to the police, staying with her/him where appropriate until all necessary procedures have been completed.
Here are some suggestions of ways you can help a friend who has been raped:
- Be supportive. Let her/him know that you care about her/him, that you believe her/him, and that she/he is not alone.
- Encourage her/him to express her/his feelings about what has happened to her/him.
- Be interested and empathic without prying or pressing for details.
- Do not to criticize or judge.
- Respect her/his decisions about what she/he wants: who to tell, whether or not to report to the police, what makes her/him feel safe, etc.
- If you are a man helping a woman, be aware that her reaction to you may be complicated; she may want affection, or she may have generalized fears of all men.
- Try not to express your own feelings of anger or helplessness to her/him, or to project them onto her/him. Talk about these feelings with another friend or professional counselor.
For Residence Hall Staff: When a Student Is Assaulted…
If a student comes to you voluntarily, you know that she/he trusts you; it is important to remain a supportive reassurance as she/he makes decisions about what to do. Studies show that a survivor of sexual assault is significantly affected throughout her/his recovery by the actions of and attitudes of the people in her /his support system. Your openness, willingness to listen, and nonjudgmental support may be a key factor in her/his progress from victim to survivor.
Take special care to help the student obtain the assistance of college resources. Follow up with her/him to see how she/he is doing.
You must also be aware that if a student’s life is in danger or if a student poses serious risk of harm to others, you may not be able to maintain confidentiality. As an employee of the College, you have an obligation to report your concern that someone’s life may be threatened to appropriate College officials.
Guidelines for Helping a Friend or Acquaintance who has been a Victim of a Rape
Less than 2% of people lie about rape or sexual assaults.
No one asks to be raped. No matter what your friend was wearing, how they were acting, how much they had to drink, they are not responsible for being sexually assaulted.
Encourage your friend to seek medical attention at Washington College Health Services or a hospital. A medical examination can detect and prevent injuries, STIs, and pregnancy, and may be able to detect memory-altering drugs.
No matter where the survivor lives, there are always services listed in the phone book. The Yellow Pages list local rape crisis centers under “Rape” or “Social/Human Services”.
Allow your friend to tell you as little or as much as she/he wants at her/his own pace.
Although you may not mean to, some questions may put your friend on the defensive. For example:
- “Why didn’t you just leave?”
- “Did you scream?”
- “Why did you go to the room alone?”
Instead try asking:
- “What happened?”
- “How are you feeling?”
- “What do you feel you want to do now?”
Although your natural response may be to give your friend a hug, be aware that after a sexual assault many survivors do not feel comfortable with physical contact.
Speaking to one of the resources listed on this website may be helpful to your friend. Volunteer to accompany her/him. Having someone she/he trusts may make it easier to talk about the attack. A discussion with one of these people could explore counseling, medical, disciplinary, and legal issues, as well as academic concerns and housing alternatives.
The most important part of a survivor’s recovery is regaining the control that the rapist took away. Help your friend find what options she/he has, and be supportive of whatever decisions she/he makes.
Hearing about a sexual assault is an upsetting experience. You may want to talk to a trusted friend or counselor about your own feelings.
*Adapted from the Smith College website