GUIDELINES FOR ASSISTING SEXUAL ASSAULT SURVIVORS
If a Texas State employee is asked to help a sexual assault survivor, these guidelines will help assure the survivor has the information necessary to decide whether to:
· seek counseling on campus, with a private provider, or with a community abuse and assault services provider
· undergo a forensic examination for the collection of evidence
· seek medical attention
· file a report with law enforcement
· file a report with Student Justice
I. UNDERSTANDING SEXUAL ASSAULT
A. Sexual assault is an act of violence, power, and control; it is not typically about sexual desire. Sexual assault involves domination or degradation of a person; it is not an expression of sexual passion.
B. Sexual assault is sexual contact (genital, oral, or anal) by one or more persons without consent. Access is gained through force, threats, intimidation, or an inability to consent (ex., as a result of alcohol, other drugs, or mental capacity).
C. Sexual assault is more than an assault on an individual’s body, it is also an attack on the individual’s dignity and sense of self.
II. STEPS TO FOLLOW WHEN RESPONDING TO AND ASSISTING A SEXUAL ASSAULT SURVIVOR
A. Ensure that the survivor is safe. Reassure the survivor that he or she was not at fault and has the right to be respected.
B. Immediately attempt to have the crime scene and any other evidence preserved. Notify law enforcement so that they can secure the scene and preserve the evidence should the survivor later decide to pursue court or disciplinary action. If the survivor changed his or her clothing, preserve the clothing. It is strongly recommended that survivors seek a forensic examination as soon as possible to provide the best opportunity for evidence collection. Advise the survivor to, if possible:
1. Preserve clothes, preferably in a paper bag, not a plastic bag
2. Not shower
3. Not go to the bathroom
4. Not eat or drink anything
5. Bring an extra set of clothes to the hospital
C. Accompany the survivor, if requested, and remain with the survivor for as long as she or he wants support. Survivors have the right to have a victim’s advocate present.
D. Explain options and processes to the survivor and assist through the process:
1. Counseling Services
a. Ask the survivor if she or he would like to talk to a counselor and let them know that assistance is available through the Texas State Counseling Center, Hays-Caldwell Women's Center (HCWC), and other local abuse and assault services providers. All services provided by the Counseling Center are confidential by state law; a counselor will review these confidentiality requirements and exceptions at the initiation of services.
b. To request counseling, assist the survivor in contacting the Texas State Counseling Center at 245-2208, HCWC at 396-4357. If the survivor is in Round Rock, the survivor may arrange counseling services through the San Marcos campus Counseling Center, through Round Rock campus One Stop Center at 512-716-4001 or through Williamson County’s Hope Alliance at 512-255-1212.
2. Forensic Examination.
a. Explain to the survivor the importance of undergoing a forensic examination to collect evidence should she or he later decide to pursue legal action. There is no cost for a forensic examination.
b. A no-cost forensic examination requires the notification of law enforcement. If a survivor requests the examination from a healthcare facility, the facility may contact law enforcement. If the survivor requests the examination through a law enforcement agency, the law enforcement agency will direct the survivor to the appropriate healthcare facility. The University Police Department (UPD) has agreements with facilities in Hays County and Williamson County to serve the San Marcos and Round Rock campuses.
c. Reassure the survivor that he or she may use a pseudonym to maintain anonymity and that consenting to a forensic examination is not committed to legal action.
d. Explain to the survivor that at the Emergency Room a trained Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) will guide him or her through the examination and assess for any medical issues. The Emergency Room staff will call an advocate to support the survivor through the process.
3. Medical Examination and Care
a. Explain to the survivor the importance of undergoing a medical examination to protect their health. Medical expenses are the financial responsibility of the survivor. However, a survivor may be able to recuperate costs from the Crime Victims’ Compensation Program (information available from the victim assistance coordinator or liaison of any law enforcement agency and prosecutor’s office in Texas or by contacting the Crime Victim’s Compensation Program in the Office of the Attorney General by calling 1-800-983-9933). The Student Health Center can provide non-emergency care at little to no cost.
b. Let the survivor know that she or he can contact the Student Health Center at 245-2161 to obtain additional medical assistance and testing for sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy, and HIV.
4. Law Enforcement
a. Let the survivor know that she or he may file a report with UPD (245-2805), or a law enforcement agency where the assault occurred. Inform the survivor that officers are trained to handle this type of situation and that same-gender officers can usually be assigned if requested. Reassure the survivor that contacting law enforcement does not commit her or him to legal action.
b. Law enforcement personnel will secure the crime scene and preserve evidence, should the survivor decide to pursue court or disciplinary action. If law enforcement cannot secure the crime scene and preserve the evidence intact, the victim or a trusted individual should collect and preserve the evidence as recommended in Section II, Subsection B.
c. Explain to the survivor that law enforcement will likely:
i. Contact the local victim’s advocate services provider to request assistance including an advocate who will accompany or meet the survivor and transporting officer at a designated medical facility;
ii. Inform the survivor on how the Criminal Court and Student Justice systems work and, if necessary, contact the appropriate law enforcement agency;
iii. Transport the survivor to a designated medical facility; and
iv. Complete the Criminal Offense report.
v. For those survivors not wishing to file police report, contact UPD at 245-2805 and inform them that an alleged sexual assault has occurred, but the survivor is unwilling to file a report with the police. UPD will inform the dean of Students if deemed appropriate, while respecting any request for anonymity by the survivor.
vi. Any person with knowledge of a sexual assault of a minor (under 18 years of age) is required by state law to report the assault, including the survivor’s name, to law enforcement. As with all sexual assault cases, law enforcement will take steps to protect the identity of a minor from public disclosure.
5. University Disciplinary Process
a. Inform the survivor that she or he may pursue disciplinary action through the Office of Student Justice if the accused is currently a Texas State student. To initiate Code of Student Conduct action, the survivor should contact the coordinator of Student Justice in the Dean of Students Office at 245-2124.
E. For those survivors refusing immediate assistance, let them know of the resources available to them (Texas State Counseling Center, HCWC, Student Health Center, UPD and Student Justice) should they wish to seek help in the future.
III. SUMMARY OF CONTACT INFORMATION
Cedar Park Regional Medical Center 512-528-7000
Counseling Center 512-245-2208
Central Texas Medical Center 512-353-8979
Dean of Students Office 512-245-2124
Dept. of Housing & Residential Life 512-245-3705
Hays-Caldwell Women’s Center 512-396-4357
Hays County Sherriff’s Office 512-943-1300
Johns Community Hospital in Taylor 512-365-2041
One Stop Center (Round Rock) 512-716-4001
Round Rock Police Department 512-218-5500
San Marcos/Hay County EMS 512-353-5115
San Marcos Police Department 512-753-2108
Scott & White University Medical Center 512-509-0100
Student Health Center 512-245-2161
University Police Department 512-245-2805
Williamson County’s Hope Alliance 512-255-1212