Help! I've Been Sexually Assaulted.

How to help myself

If you have been sexually assaulted:

  • Are you safe? Your safety and well-being are the highest priority. If you are unsure where to go or can't think of anywhere that is safe for you at this time, please consider calling the YWCA at (269) 385-3587 or the Gryphon Place Helpline at 381-HELP (381-4357), both available 24 hours a day and are located off campus. If you want to speak with someone on campus, you may also ask the the WMU Department of Public Safety at (269) 387-5555 to contact the Dean of Students, who can help you with housing arrangements.
  • Consider calling a trusted friend, relative, or a counselor. These people can provide you with the support and care you may need at this time. Help is available 24 hours at the YWCA and the Gryphon Place, and during business hours at the WMU Counseling Center: (269) 387-1850.
  • Consider seeking medical care. You may need to receive basic medical treatment for injuries. Sindecuse Health Center can treat injuries and provide you with screening and treatment for sexually transmitted infections (STI) and/or pregnancy. They also provide discounted emergency contraception, which can be used within 72 to 96 hours of an assault to avoid unwanted pregnancy. Trained nurses at the YWCA Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner program (SANE) are available 24 hours a day and can provide safe, comfortable examinations, which are useful in securing evidence for possible criminal/legal proceedings. 
  • There are several ways to report sexual misconduct. You can use more than one option for reporting or you can select the one with which you are most comfortable but it's important to report what you've experienced, witnessed, or heard. To contact the WMU Department of Public Safety, call (269) 387-5555. You may also choose to contact the Office of Institutional Equity at (269) 387-6316. The Office of Institutional Equity can support students, provide interim measures for safety, and address sexual misconduct.
  • Do what is best for you. Ultimately, you are encouraged to do what is best for you. If possible, before reporting, do not change your clothes. If you do decide to change your clothes, bring the clothes you were wearing at the time of the assault with you, stored in a paper bag (NOT a plastic bag, as plastic interacts with the chemical composition of the evidence). If you choose to file a report with the police, it will be most helpful if you can preserve evidence; it is suggested that you avoid bathing, showering, brushing your teeth, drinking, or even using the restroom. All these things destroy physical evidence that may be helpful in a criminal investigation. If you do any of these things, there still may be collectible evidence and you can still report. 
  • You may contact FIRE Place. FIRE Place can help you determine the next best steps. FIRE Place works closely with campus resources and may assist you in determining what, if any, steps you wish to take. They may put you in touch with Sindecuse Health Center staff, the WMU Police, Counseling Services, as well as off-campus resources. FIRE Place is private, not confidential and works very hard to help students manage and maintain their privacy. To contact the FIRE Place call (269) 387-2990.

For emotional support:

  • Please seek some form of emotional support. While taking care of your physical needs may be the first step, it is important not to neglect the emotions you may be experiencing as a result of the assault.
  • Know that you are not alone. There are people who can help you process what you are experiencing and explain the options that are available to you at this time.
  • Consider visiting Counseling Services located on the 2nd floor of Sindecuse Health Center. If is a confidential service for students, faculty, and staff. The first visit can be a walk-in but after that it must be done by appointment. Services are free for students. You may also consider visiting FIRE Place Resource and Support Center. The center is a safe place for students, faculty, and staff that supports survivors and friends of survivors of sexual assault and other bias incidents. From here you can easily reach a network of campus programs, offices, and registered student organizations. Caring staff will assist you and provide direct connections to the most beneficial options. The center maintains a collection of resources and educational publications on the topics of sexual assault, bias incidents, and other forms of violence. You may also come to contribute to ongoing healing art and awareness projects.
  • While there are many support services that can help you determine your next steps, ultimately you get to make the decision about what is best for you.
  • Remember a survivor is never responsible for being assaulted.

College of William & Mary Sexual Assault Resources and Education. Web, 2007.

FIRE! Sexual Assault Peer Education, 2017.