What to Do If You Are Sexually Assaulted
For a person subjected to an act of sexual violence, there can be time-sensitive decisions to make about sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy, and collecting physical evidence in the event of prosecution. Therefore, victims of sexual violence are advised to:
- Protect yourself and get medical attention: Find a safe place as soon as possible and seek medical attention immediately. Injuries and exposure to disease may not be immediately apparent. A medical examination can provide necessary treatment and collect important evidence. It is recommended that a physical exam be conducted within 72 hours of the incident. Submitting to a physical exam does not mean that a victim is required to press charges. This action merely preserves the option to do so. Designated college personnel can assist in providing transportation to the hospital.
- Preserve evidence: It is important to preserve all physical evidence following an act of sexual violence. Physical evidence may be necessary in the event criminal prosecution is pursued. If possible, a victim should not to wash, eat, drink, douche, clean, use the bathroom, or change clothes. If clothes are changed, all clothes that were worn at the time of the incident should not be cleaned and should be placed into a clean paper bag.
- Seek health and support services: A variety of health and support services are available on and off campus for victims of sexual violence. For information about such services, including counseling, please contact Idelia Smith, Affirmative Action/Title IX Coordinator, at 413.552.2228. Call a friend or family member that you trust. You also can call a crisis center or a hotline to talk with a counselor. Feelings of shame, guilt, fear, and shock are normal. It is important to get counseling from a trusted professional. In Western Massachusetts, contact:
Amherst: Center for Women & Community, 413.545.0800 or Hotline, 888.337.0800
Greenfield: NELCWIT Hotline, 413.772.0806
Pittsfield: Elizabeth Freeman Center, 413.443.0089 or Hotline, 413.499.2425
Springfield: YWCA, 800.796.8711
Westfield: YWCA of Western Mass Hotline, 800.479.6245
Spanish language assistance is available at the Llámanos Spanish Language 24-hour Helpline at 800.223.5001.
Current contact information on rape crisis centers in Massachusetts can be found at the Commonwealth's Executive Office of Health and Human Services' website under Consumer Information.
While at the hospital:
- If you decide you want to file a police report, you or the hospital staff can call the police from the emergency room.
- Ask the hospital staff to connect you with the local rape crisis center. The center staff can help you make choices about reporting the attack and getting help through counseling and support groups.
WELL CONNECT: HCC offers free, comprehensive wellness services through the WellConnect Student Assistance Program. Through WellConnect, students, their families and members of their household have access to one-on-one, 24/7 mental health counseling as well as numerous other resources.
Students can access WellConnect at any time by calling 800.326.6142 (voice/TTY) or via the WellConnect website. Students in need of support on campus during normal college business hours (Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.) should come to the Student Affairs office in FR224 or contact us at 413.552.2390 for immediate assistance.
SEXUAL VIOLENCE VICTIM'S RIGHTS & INFORMATION
The Board of Higher Education/Massachusetts Community Colleges' Policy on Affirmative Action, Equal Opportunity & Diversity ("Policy on Affirmative Action") provides information to assist members of the college community with understanding the rights, protections and services available to victims of sexual violence. This information is available in Sexual Violence: Victim's Rights and Information.