What should I do if I am sexually assaulted?
Get to a safe place. If you are in an immediate crisis call 911 or Campus Police 609-771-2345.
Call a friend, a family member, or someone you can trust and ask them to stay with you.
Get immediate medical attention for possible injuries, sexually transmitted diseases, and pregnancy. Even if you think that you do not have any physical injuries, you should still have a medical examination and discuss the possibility of sexually transmitted infections with a medical provider.
What is sexual assault?
In New Jersey, sexual assault includes any form of unwanted or involuntary touching or penetration of intimate body parts, by the same or opposite sex. This can include being forced to touch someone else.
“Unwanted or involuntary” means sexual contact without the consent of the victim, including the use of threats, intimidation, coercion, or physical force. It also includes victims who are unable to give consent, because of their age or because they are physically helpless, mentally incapacitated, or intoxicated.
Sexual offenders are often someone known to the victim, such as a friend, acquaintance, date, spouse, or family member. The terms “date rape” or “acquaintance rape” are often used to describe this association, but this does not imply a less serious form of sexual assault.
What is consent?
Consent is an agreement that two people must make if they want to have sex. The issue of consent can be a complicated and ambiguous area that needs to be addressed with clear, open, and honest communication. Keep these points in mind if you are not sure consent has been established:
- Both partners need to be fully conscious and aware.
The use of alcohol or other substances can interfere with someone’s ability to make clear decisions about the level of intimacy they are comfortable with. The more intoxicated a person is, the less they are able to give conscious consent.
- Both partners are equally free to act.
The decision to be sexually intimate must be without coercion. Both partners must have the option to choose to be intimate or not. Both partners should be free to change “yes” to “no” at any time. Factors such as body size, previous victimization, threats to “out” someone, and other fears can prevent an individual from freely consenting.
- Both partners clearly communicate their willingness and permission.
Willingness and permission must be communicated clearly and unambiguously. Just because a person fails to resist sexual advances does not mean that she or he is willing. Consent is not the absence of the word “no.”
- Both partners are positive and sincere in their desires.
It is important to be honest in communicating feelings about consent. If one person states her or his desires, the other person can make informed decisions about the encounter.
What happens during the medical exam?
Please visit our Preserving Evidence Page for a comprehensive overview of what occurs during a medical exam.
Does Title IX protect me if I was harassed or assaulted by a school employee?
Yes. Title IX also protects students from forms of sexual harassment (including sexual violence and sexual abuse), carried out by school employees. Sexual harassment by school employees can include unwelcome sexual advances; requests for sexual favors; and other verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature, including but not limited to sexual activity. In some circumstances, nonsexual conduct may take on sexual connotations and rise to the level of sexual harassment. For example, a teacher repeatedly hugging and putting his or her arms around students under inappropriate circumstances could create a hostile environment.
Does Title IX protect me if I was harassed, bullied, or assaulted off campus?
Often, yes. Title IX requires schools to address a hostile educational environment even when the abuse occurs off campus, such as on the school bus, during a field trip or extracurricular activity, or online. If sexual harassment off campus or online has created a hostile environment for you or a friend, your school should intervene and address the harmful conduct.
What if the assailant doesn’t go to my school?
The appropriate response will differ depending on the level of control the school has over the alleged perpetrator. For example, if an athlete or band member from a visiting school sexually assaults a student at the home school, the home school may not be able to directly discipline or take direct action against the visiting member. However, your school has to conduct an inquiry into what occurred and report the incident to the visiting school and encourage the visiting school to take appropriate action to prevent further sexual violence. Your school should also notify you of the right to file a complaint with the alleged perpetrator’s school or local law enforcement. Your school may also decide not to invite the visiting school back to its campus. Even though a school’s ability to take direct action against a particular perpetrator may be limited, the school must still take steps to provide appropriate remedies for the complainant and, where appropriate, the broader school population. This may include providing support services for the complainant, and issuing new policy statements making it clear that the school does not tolerate sexual violence and will respond to any reports about such incidents. – Adapted from DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION OFFICE FOR CIVIL RIGHTS Title IX FAQ’s
What are “Interim and Remedial Measures” or “Accommodations” under Title IX?
Title IX requires schools to provide student survivors reasonable accommodations (like free counseling services or class changes) needed to stay in school and enjoy equal access to educational opportunities. Schools must provide these reasonable accommodations regardless of a survivor’s decision to undergo a school investigation or the status of that investigation, but the breadth of those accommodations may be limited if a survivor declines to pursue an investigation. See our Interim & Remedial Measures Page for more information.
What is retaliation? Can my school retaliate against me?
Retaliation is punishing, intimidating, threatening, coercing, or in any way discriminating against an individual because of the individual’s complaint or participation in an investigation. Title IX makes it unlawful for your school to retaliate against you. If you report violence to your school, assist in a classmate’s complaint, or make a civil rights complaint to any state or federal agency, it is unlawful for your school to punish you. For example: If you make a report to your school about sexual harassment by a classmate on your soccer team, the coach can’t take you off the starting line-up as punishment. Nor can your school suspend you or punish you in other ways for participating in the conduct you’ve reported as abusive.
A school should also tell complainants and witnesses that Title IX prohibits retaliation by other students, such as bullying, and that school officials will not only take steps to prevent retaliation, but will also take strong responsive action if it occurs. If you are being retaliated against by your school or someone else, you should try to document the retaliation. A school should also tell complainants and witnesses that Title IX prohibits retaliation, and that school officials will not only take steps to prevent retaliation, but will also take strong responsive action if it occurs.
Does Title IX force victims to share their experience with the College or pressure a student to pursue disciplinary action with the Title IX Office?
No. The student always retains control over who to talk to and what level of information to share. The Title IX Office will never force a victim to share the details of their experience, but when a report of sexual misconduct is shared with the Title IX Staff, we have a legal duty to follow up on the report to determine the appropriate response under Title IX. The Title IX Coordinator and/or Investigator(s) will conduct an initial assessment regarding, among other things, the nature of the report, the safety of the individual and of the broader campus community, and the complainant’s expressed preference for resolution. Students are not pressured to pursue a specific action. In planning any response, the wishes of the reporting student are given full consideration. See the
Is the only avenue I have for recourse a disciplinary process?
Not necessarily. Following the Title IX assessment, the College may seek a remedies-based resolution that does not involve disciplinary action against a Respondent (this is traditionally done based on the recommendations of the Reporting Party (victim)). A remedies-based resolution may include interim protective measures, such as a no-contact directive, academic accommodations, or housing modifications. It may also include targeted or broad-based educational training. In some cases, a remedies-based resolution is not appropriate based on the facts and circumstances of the misconduct (for example, conduct that presents an ongoing threat to an individual or to the broader community).
Does Title IX always start a criminal/legal process?
Reporting an incident to the police and/or pursuing criminal charges are always available to a student and we will help in accessing those resources, but it is separate and different from the College’s Title IX process. A community member can pursue both the criminal and the College’s process at the same time.
Is there a time limit for making a report?
No – there is no time limit for making a report. The College encourages reporting an incident as soon as possible in order to maximize our ability to respond promptly and effectively. If the respondent is no longer a student or employee, the College may not be able to take action against the Respondent, but it will still seek to meet its Title IX obligation by taking steps to end the harassment, prevent its recurrence, and address its effects, when appropriate.
Who can a student report to if they want to keep the information confidential?
The College has several confidential resources students can utilize, please visit our Counseling Page.
How can a member of the TCNJ community make a complaint to the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of the Department of Education when a community member believes that TCNJ has not upheld their responsibilities under Title IX?
For more information on your rights to submit a Title IX Discrimination Complaint, please review the information provided by OCR.