If You Are Sexually Assaulted
After a sexual assault, it’s not uncommon to feel fearful, confused, guilty, ashamed, or isolated. Many people find it helpful to talk with someone about their feelings and their options. There are many concerned and professionally trained people at Emerson College and in the community who are prepared to help you. Options to consider:
- Find a safe place.
- Call the police. If you are in fear of your safety, call the police (911) immediately, especially if the assailant is still nearby. The police will help you whether or not you choose to prosecute the assailant. For an assault on campus, call the Emerson College Police Department (ECPD) at 617-824-8888. For an off-campus assault, you may call the ECPD or the local police department.
- Call someone you trust. Don’t try to deal with this situation alone. Call a friend, family member, or someone whom you feel you can talk to (e.g., Residence Life staff member, Counseling and Psychological Services, Center for Health and Wellness, ECPD, or other individuals on the Emerson staff).
- Get medical attention. Beth Israel-Deaconess Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and the Boston Medical Center are experienced and prepared to help sexual assault victims. These hospitals have specially trained nurses: sexual assault nurse examiners (SANE). See our Resources page for websites and phone numbers, and below for details about students in Emerson's external programs seeking medical attention, later medical evaluation, and preserving physical evidence.
- Seek emotional care. Regardless of whether you report the assault, it is often helpful to seek counseling or another form of emotional support. The crisis intervention and counseling services provided by Emerson College are available to you regardless of where the assault happened. Special rape crisis counseling resources are also available through community resources and the hospitals listed in the directory on the Campus Resources page.
medical attention and physical evidence
- Medical attention for students attending one of Emerson’s external programs: Refer to the Resources page to find emergency phone numbers and hospitals with SANE nurses near your location. It is extremely important that you seek medical attention immediately to assess and treat physical injuries you may have sustained and to collect evidence of the assault. Medical evaluation will determine risk of any sexually transmitted diseases, HIV/Hepatitis exposure, and pregnancy. Some treatments must be initiated within 24 to 72 hours following the assault to be effective.
- Later Medical Evaluation: Although seeking immediate medical attention is preferred for the reasons noted above, some survivors will delay in doing so. Regardless of the time that may have passed since the assault, a medical exam is still strongly recommended.
- Try to preserve all physical evidence of the assault: You do not have to decide immediately whether or not you want to pursue a criminal complaint. However, collecting evidence immediately following an assault will be helpful if you decide to press charges later. Evidence for a sexual assault can be collected up to 120 hours (5 days) following the assault. Before seeking medical attention, do not drink, bathe, douche, brush your teeth, change your clothes, or comb your hair. It’s only natural to want to do these things, but you may be destroying evidence that could be helpful in prosecution of the assailant. During your medical examination, this evidence will be collected by a specially trained nurse. Bring new clothes to the hospital, or, if you have changed your clothes, clothing worn during the assault should be placed in a paper bag and taken with you to the hospital.
crisis intervention and counseling services
Emerson Counseling and Psychological Services is a place where sexual assault survivors and concerned friends can safely and confidentially discuss their feelings associated with the assault. The office is staffed with therapists who are experienced in helping victims of crime and other traumatic incidents. Sessions are designed to explore the impact of an assault on everyday functioning and to develop skills to regain control over one’s life. Counseling and Psychological Services also provides referrals to other agencies in the greater Boston area. To make an appointment, call 617-824-8595.
The Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (BARCC) operates a 24–hour confidential hotline that provides survivors of sexual assault with telephone counseling and personal support. Specially trained rape crisis counselors may also be available to provide support and advocacy in dealing with police, hospital, and judicial proceedings. BARCC has many other services, including support groups and referrals to help sexual assault survivors. The hotline telephone number is 617-492-7273 (617-492-RAPE).
For students attending an external program, the following local centers operate 24–hour confidential hotlines that provide survivors of sexual assault with telephone counseling and personal support.
- LA Program: Los Angeles Peace over Violence hotline telephone number is 626-793-3385.
- Kasteel Well Program: Slachtoffer Wijzen Sexual Violence Center hotline telephone number is +31(0) 887 55 55 88.
- Washington, D.C., Program: D.C. Rape Crisis Center hotline telephone number is 202-333-7273.
- Prague Program: Elektra Sexual Abuse hotline telephone number is +42(0) 603 81 23 61.
reporting the assault
Reporting a sexual assault to the police does not commit you to further legal action.
The earlier you report an assault, the easier it will be for police to investigate the crime and to prosecute the case successfully if that is your choice. Reporting helps to preserve your options for the future.
Many police departments, including Boston, Cambridge, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles, have officers who have undergone special training and are certified by the state in rape investigation. In the initial meeting with the police, you will be asked to tell the police what happened, where it happened, and whatever identifying information about your assailant you can remember.
Regardless of the police department to which you report the crime, you can be assured that your name will not be made public.
- External: If you wish to have the assailant prosecuted, the police and district attorney’s office will handle the legal proceedings without expense to you. You do not need to hire an attorney.
- Internal: If the assailant is a member of the College community, you also have the option to file a complaint through the College’s disciplinary system (see Student Handbook) or Title IX coordinator.
In either instance, a College representative will be available to assist you through the process.
Students attending the Los Angeles, Castle, or Prague programs may file a complaint with the executive director at the respective site. Students in the Washington, D.C. Program may contact The Washington Center director of student services.
title ix responsibilities
Federal law under Title IX requires colleges and universities to investigate any incident that comes to their attention to take steps to address any potential effects and prevent future harm to the community. Any member of the Emerson community who observes an incident that may constitute a sexual assault or who otherwise becomes aware of such an incident must immediately notify the Title IX coordinator, dean of students, or ECPD. If the student asks that her or his name not be revealed, Emerson will take all reasonable steps to investigate and respond to the complaint consistent with the student’s request as long as doing so does not prevent the College from responding effectively to the sexual assault complaint and taking measures to protect other students.
emerson's sexual assault response team
A student victim of sexual assault may disclose information regarding the assault to any member of the College community. Any Emerson community member who is not a member of the Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) who receives first-hand information that a sexual assault has occurred from the student victim should strongly urge him or her to report the event to one of the departments that comprise the SART. The SART consists of professional staff from the following departments and centers: ECPD (617-824-8555), Office of the General Counsel (617-824-8908), Counseling and Psychological Services (617-824-8595), Health and Wellness (617-824-8666), Dean of Students (617-824-8640), Title IX Coordinator (617-824-8580), and Housing and Residence Life (617-824-8620).
For additional information please see our Sexual Assault Policy.
for immediate help
Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (BARCC): www.barcc.org
24 hour hotline: 800-841-8371
Emerson Counseling and Psychological Services (ECAPS): 216 Tremont Street, 2nd Floor 617-824-8595