What Should I Do If I Have Been Assaulted?
Ensure Your Physical Safety
If you have experienced a sexual assault or violence in a dating or intimate relationship, the most important thing you can do is get to a safe place. If you believe you or anyone else is in immediate danger, call 911 as soon as possible. You may seek help from local law enforcement agencies or from the Furman University Police Department. The Furman University Police Department can also assist you with contacting local law enforcement and can help you obtain transportation to the local law enforcement office. Officers are on duty at the Furman University Police Department 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Once you are safe, contact someone you trust to be with you for support. This could be a friend, family member, or someone on campus. The Julie Valentine Center has confidential advocates available through a 24-hour crisis line at 864.467.3633.
Obtain Medical Assistance and Treatment
No matter what happened, you should seek medical attention as soon as you can—even if you’re not sure whether you want to report the incident. It is crucial that you obtain medical attention as soon as possible after a sexual assault to determine the extent of physical injury and to prevent or treat sexually transmitted diseases (such as HIV). Medical facilities can also screen for the presence of sedative drugs such as Rohypnol or GHB (date‐rape drugs). Local options for medical care include the Earle Student Health Center, North Greenville Hospital, Greer Memorial Hospital, St. Francis Hospital, and Greenville Memorial Hospital. Medical professionals at the Earle Student Health Center can help you obtain transportation to North Greenville Hospital or Greenville Memorial Hospital and can help you contact a support person, such as a family member, a friend, or a roommate.
Preserve the Evidence
While you might be tempted to try to erase all signs of what happened to you, it’s important to preserve the evidence. If you plan to have a sexual assault forensic exam (also “rape kit”) done, it is advisable not to do any of the following things until you have gotten medical attention and/or contacted the police:
- Bathe or shower
- Use the restroom
- Eat or drink
- Change clothes
- Comb hair
- Clean up the crime scene
- Move anything the offender may have touched
If you choose to have a sexual assault forensic exam completed, it is important to do so within 72 hours if possible, though evidence collection along with medical care is available for up to 120 hours after the incident. Even if you have not decided whether to file charges, it is advisable to have the sexual assault forensic exam completed so that you can better preserve the options of obtaining a protective order and/or filing criminal charges at a later date. St. Francis Hospital, Greenville Memorial Hospital, and Greer Memorial Hospital administer these forensic exams. If you do not wish to file a report with law enforcement at this time, you may request an “anonymous kit” with no law enforcement involvement. The cost of these kits will be paid for from a crime victim fund, and you will not be billed for the kits. You should also wear (or take with you in a paper – not plastic – bag) to the hospital the same clothing that you were wearing during the assault. A sexual assault forensic exam can still be completed even if you have showered or bathed.
Obtain Emotional Support
Coping with the aftermath of a sexual assault or dating or domestic violence can be very difficult—but remember, you’re not alone. The Counseling Center can help student victims sort through their feelings and begin the recovery process. The professionals at the Counseling Center are trained to provide crisis intervention on short‐term and emergency issues. The Counseling Center can also provide referral services for outside providers and law enforcement. Counseling is free of charge to all students. Employees may contact the Employee Assistance Program to obtain emotional support (available at: 877.595.5281). Both students and employees can obtain free and confidential support, advocacy services and counseling through the Julie Valentine Center at 864.467.3633 (24-hour hotline) or from Safe Habor (for intimate partner violence) at 800.291.2139.
You are encouraged to report incidents of Sexual Assault to the University’s Title IX Coordinator (even if you have filed a report directly with law enforcement). Deciding whether or not to report an incident isn’t easy. Feel free to take your time with the decision (but make sure to get medical attention to collect evidence). If you decide to report the event, you have several options. You can:
- Report it to campus police or local law enforcement
- File a complaint with the Title IX Coordinator
- Report to both law enforcement and the Title IX Coordinator
If you do report the event to the Title IX Coordinator, you can ask the Title IX Coordinator to help you notify law enforcement. The Title IX Coordinator can also help you access resources (including options for legal counsel, if requested) and can provide you with support and information, including information on the University’s procedures for investigating and addressing instances of Sexual Assault. You can also decline to involve the police.