Survivors of Sexual Assault

It is important that you understand that you are not at fault for the assault in any way. No one ever deserves to be assaulted, and persons who commit sexual assault do so out of a need to control, dominate, abuse, and humiliate.

Immediate Needs – Safety
For survivors who have just experienced a sexual assault, it can be important to find a place where you feel comfortable and safe from harm. This location could be your home, a friend's room, local hospital. public safety office, or police station. If you are on-campus and need immediate assistance, you can call Public Safety at 718-990-5252. If you are off-campus, you can call 911.

Any of the following resources could be called upon for assistance: St. John's University Public Safety, the Health Center. Center for Counseling and Consultation, Campus Ministry, a resident director or resident assistant. A comprehensive list of on- and off-campus resources is available at the end of this guide.

It is also important that you know that you have a number of resources and options available to you following an assault. Some of these  options include:

Medical Care

Student Health Services
Student Health Services also has staff available to provide medical assistance or support. Student Health Services has locations on the Queens Campus (DaSilva, First Floor) as well as the Staten Island campus (Campus Center, Room B-17).

It is strongly recommended that you seek medical aid promptly, especially if you have been physically injured. Even if you do not have any visible physical injuries from the assault, there may be physical injuries that you cannot see. Medical and health centers can also provide additional services such as testing for sexually transmitted diseases and emergency care. A complete medical evaluation will include a physical examination, treatment, evidence collection, and/or counseling. You will not be made to do anything you do not want to do and may decline any of the elements of this evaluation.

If you have been sexually assaulted in the past 96 hours:
Evidence collection may be possible through a "rape kit" if you have been sexually assaulted in the past 96 hours. During this process, physical evidence is gathered for potential use in a criminal investigation and prosecution. A trained doctor or nurse will collect the evidence necessary to establish that a crime occurred and, if possible, establish who committed the crime. To do so, the doctor or nurse will perform an internal examination (either vaginally, anally, or both) taking swabs of any secretions left by the perpetrator, and will do the same to your mouth if any oral contact was made during the assault. The clothes you were wearing may be held as evidence also, so it is a good idea for you to bring along a change of clothes to the hospital. If you choose to undergo a rape evidence kit, it is important that you do not bathe, douche, brush teeth, or comb your hair. A series of photographs may also be taken of you, including anywhere there are bruises, scrapes, or cuts. You may stop the procedure at any time.

It is also important to note that you do not have to press charges if you complete a rape evidence kit. If you are unsure about participating in criminal prosecution, having the rape evidence kit done will help keep your opt1ons open. Typically, evidence will be kept for a period of time to enable you to consider your options.

If you would like to receive medical care, you may call 911, call Public Safety at 718-990-5252, or visit the hospital on your own. If you call 911 or Public Safety, first explain what happened and request transportation to an emergency department that has a certified Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner (SAFE) program. SAFE programs have specially trained heath professionals who provide medical care to patients who report sexual assault, including evaluation, treatment, referral, and follow-up. Trained advocates at the hospital may also be available to provide you with additional support and to guide you through the experience at the hospital. If you go to the nearest emergency department that that does not have a designated SAFE program, you have the right to be transferred to the nearest hospital that does.

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Mental health and counseling services

Experiencing any form of sexual assault or attempt may bring up many different types of feelings that can be painful, confusing, and overwhelming. Obtaining support from family and friends is very important. In addition, enlisting support from a professional who is specially trained in working with survivors of sexual assault can also be helpful for recovery.

After the actual incident, you may experience acute stress that may include a range of d1fficult1es such as nightmares, flashbacks, numbness, and withdrawal from family and friends. In addition, survivors may sometimes blame themselves, feel upset about the reactions of their friends and/or family, feel ashamed and/or angry about what happened, or even question their core beliefs and morals involving sexuality, relationships, and religion. These responses are normal and understandable. However, the responses can make it difficult for some surv1vors to manage these feelings alone. Many survivors find comfort in sharing their story in a supportive and confidential context. It is also possible to learn new coping skills to help manage the emotions and facilitate return to activities that the person finds meaningful and important.

Campus and Community Resources
You have a number of options if you would like to receive counseling. Both on- and off-campus resources are available to all survivors. On-campus resources include the Center for Counseling and Consultation (CCC). The CCC has mental health professionals available to provide support and assistance to sexual assault survivors. Counseling services by the CCC are private and confidential. The CCC has locations on the Queens campus (Marillac Hall, Room 130) and the Staten Island campus (Flynn Hall, Room 115).

Campus Ministry
In addition, campus ministers are available for support and follow-up referrals. The Office of Campus Ministry has locations on the Queens (Marillac Hall, Room 239) and Staten Island (Notre Dame House) campuses.

Community Resources
You also have off-campus resources available to you. Programs such as Mount Sinai's Sexual Assault and Violence Intervention (SAVI) program offer survivors free support and counseling, assistance in reporting the assault to NYPD if you choose to do so, and assistance in filing compensation claims with the New York State Office of Victim Services. This program is located at Elmhurst Hospital Center, 79-01 Broadway, Queens, NY. Other area clinics and programs provide survivors with additional support and assistance. Also available are several 24-hour free and confidential hotlines that can be helpful to some survivors who may not feel comfortable talking to someone in person.

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Housing Options

It is important that you feel safe and comfortable on our campuses in the place that you live and reside. Alternative housing options are available to you. The dean of students will provide the options for alternative housing for yourself or the accused assailant, who may be asked to leave the residence halls or moved to another location.

 If you live off-campus and feel unsafe in your current housing, the dean of students may help you obtain temporary housing until more appropriate housing is obtained.

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Academic Assistance and Accommodations

Because experiencing a sexual assault can often be traumatic, overwhelming, and confusing, survivors may find it hard to concentrate and focus on academics during this time. After a sexual assault, it may be helpful to take time away from school and be with family and friends. If you need time away from school, you can request that the dean of students contact the academic dean so that you can be excused for a specific, allotted time. You may also contact the academic dean or professor on your own to make the request. The dean of students will not divulge any information regarding the assault to the academic dean or faculty without your consent. If you would like to take a leave for a longer period of time, you may apply for a Voluntary Health-Related Leave of Absence.

In addition, it may also be possible to request time-limited academic accommodations through the dean of students. Academic accommodations such as taking an exam at a later time are under the discretion of each individual professor. If you experience consistent academic difficulties as a result of the assault, including mental or physical illnesses such as anxiety, depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or any other mental or physical illnesses, you may request ongoing academic accommodations through the Office of Disabilities. You will be asked to provide written documentation from your treating provider. The Office of Disabilities is located on the Queens campus (Marillac Hall, Room 132) and the Staten Island campus (Flynn Hall, Room 11 5).

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Voluntary Health-Related Leave of Absence

You may apply for a Voluntary Health-Related Leave of Absence (HRLOA). An HRLOA is an agreement regarding a separation between the student and the University for a period of time. HRLOAs are coordinated through the Department of Student Wellness, Division of Student Affairs. HRLOAs are recommended in those instances when a student's medical and/or mental health condition is judged to significantly impair his or her ability to function successfully or safely as a student. It is expected that a student who is granted an HRLOA will use the time away from the University for treatment and recovery. It should be understood that most students require a reasonable period of time away from St. John's University, and, in the case of mental health services, a course of clinically recognized and accepted treatment interventions to recover their health sufficiently in order to obtain clearance from the Health Related Leave Review Committee to pursue re-enrollment.

Current policy requires that specific steps be followed in order for a student to both obtain an HRLOA and to return from one. More information can be found online in the Student Handbook.

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