Support, resources available for victims of sexual assault and misconduct

August 25, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — For new and returning students, the beginning of the academic year is a good time to become familiar with the variety of resources and services available at the University, including tips for staying safe at Penn State, as well as options for seeking care and making a report of sexual assault or misconduct.

On college campuses across the nation, the first few weeks of the semester are known as the “Red Zone,” when there is an increase in sexual assaults. As part of Penn State’s efforts to create an environment focused on safety, reporting and accountability, the University has implemented a variety of efforts aimed at combating sexual assault, including for example the Stand for State bystander intervention program, among others.

Penn State encourages individuals who have been victims of sexual or gender-based harassment or misconduct to make a report by contacting the Office of Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response or the University’s Title IX coordinator.

“No matter the circumstances, sexual assault is never your fault,” said Chris Harris, Title IX coordinator at Penn State. “We are committed to providing victims with the information, care and support they deserve. If you’ve been the victim of sexual assault or harassment, we encourage you to make a report to the University or law enforcement.”

The steps you take after a sexual assault are very personal and do not have to mirror those of others; support is available when you are ready. For confidential counseling and advocacy services, as well as to discuss your options, students can consider reaching out to the Gender Equity Center. In addition, Counseling and Psychological Services also provides confidential counseling and support services. Employees and resources that are designated as “confidential” do not disclose the information you share to the police or University without permission or unless there are extenuating circumstances, such as imminent threat of harm.

For students and employees who have been impacted by sexual or gender-based harassment or misconduct, there are multiple resources available to meet your needs, including:

  • Confidential survivor advocacy and support services.
  • Free psychological counseling and psychological support.
  • Free or low-cost health care options for students.
  • Academic accommodations.
  • Housing and/or employment modifications.
  • Referrals to local community agencies for additional services.

If you have been sexually assaulted, consider the following:

  • Know it was not your fault. No matter what a person was doing, what they were wearing or if they were drinking, a person is never at fault for being sexually assaulted.
  • Go to a safe place as soon as you can; in an emergency, call 911.
  • Try to preserve all physical evidence; do not bathe or use the bathroom.
  • Contact a close friend to be with you until you feel safe again.
  • Get medical attention as soon as possible; have a friend accompany you.
  • Consider whether you would like to make a report to the University and/or the police.
  • See a counselor or advocate to help you understand your feelings and access resources and support services.

The following medical, counseling, advocacy, and police and safety services are available to Penn State students and employees. If at any time you don't know where to turn for support, staff in the Office of Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response can assist you.

UNIVERSITY PARK CAMPUS

Medical services:

It is important to seek medical care after any physical or sexual assault to make sure you're physically OK and to collect and preserve evidence. In the event of an emergency, seek immediate assistance by calling 911. For students, University Health Services can provide an initial non-evidence collection medical evaluation and one follow-up visit at no charge. At Mount Nittany Medical Center, individuals may choose to have either an evidence collection exam or a non-evidence collection exam. Staff are specifically trained and sensitive to your concerns.

Reporting resources:

You have options if you choose to report an incident of sexual assault or misconduct. Reports can be made any time to the University and law enforcement; however, individuals are encouraged to make reports as soon as possible after an incident.

Due to the COVID-19 precautions in place, students and employees are encouraged to file a report online and/or book a virtual drop-in appointment. For immediate assistance, call the Office of Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response at 814-867-0099. In an emergency, call 911 or campus police at 814-863-1111.

Emotional support, advocacy and counseling services:

There are a variety of University resources available to support those who have been impacted by sexual or gender-based harassment or misconduct. Advocates also can provide information about reporting options.

Safety and educational services:

ALL PENN STATE CAMPUSES

Below is a list of contact information for designated support resources at each Penn State campus. These individuals and offices can connect you with available medical assistance, emotional support and advocacy resources.

DATING AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CONCERNS DURING COVID-19

Movement restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic have increased domestic abuse concerns worldwide. Penn State students who are concerned about their safety or the safety of someone else, no matter where they are, can visit Victim and Survivor Support and Advocacy for more information on how to recognize abuse, find a safe space, and for resources related to victim and survivor protection and support. 

OFF-CAMPUS RESOURCES

For more information regarding available Penn State resources, support services and procedural options, visit TitleIX.psu.edu.

Last Updated September 22, 2020