Sexual Assault Response Services
The Counseling & Student Development Center offers free, confidential, and long-term individual, group, and emergency sexual assault counseling services for JMU students; advocacy services for survivors including assistance with medical, judicial, and legal referrals; and, finally, consultation services for faculty, staff, family members, and friends of sexual assault survivors. During your initial appointment, a counselor can help you decide which service(s) would be the most beneficial to you.
How to make an appointment at the Counseling & Student Development Center
- What is Sexual Assault?
- What to do if you or someone you know is sexually assaulted
- CSDC Sexual Assault Response Services
- FAQs and Myths
- Multicultural Survivors of Sexual Assault
- Stalking FAQs
- The Survivor's Report (CSDC's Sexual Assault Response Newsletter) and other CSDC Sexual Assault Services Brochures
- Other Resources
How to get assistance with a crisis or emergency
Individual counseling provides students with a safe and confidential environment to explore an issue or problem. Counseling at the CSDC is a collaborative endeavor in which the counselor and client work together to identify goals and directions for treatment.
During the Fall and Spring Semesters of each academic year the Counseling Center offers sexual assault support groups and a women's process group. The groups are available to current undergraduate and graduate students and there is no session limit on group participation.
Additional services offered by CSDC in conjunction with individual and group counseling are related to advocacy and assistance with medical, judicial, and legal referrals. This service includes help in deciding what, if any, levels of advocacy might be desired and assistance in moving throughout the various systems. At the request of the student, the counselor or advocate would be available to accompany the student to the relevant agencies and advocate on his or her behalf.
If you know a student who has been assaulted and you have questions or concerns about how to help him or her most effectively, the counseling center offers consultation services about this issue. Consultation services are available to students, faculty, staff, and family members. To access these services, please contact CSDC and request a consultation, by phone or in person, about someone you know who has been assaulted.
According to JMU Judicial Affairs, sexual assault is defined as sexual contact without consent and includes intentional touching, either of the victim or when the victim is forced to touch, directly or through clothing, another person's genitals, breasts, thighs or buttocks; rape (sexual intercourse without consent whether by an acquaintance or a stranger); attempted rape; sodomy (oral sex or anal intercourse) without consent; or sexual penetration with an object without consent.Virginia Statute for Rape
Virginia Statute for Attempted Rape
Judicial Affairs' Definition of Sexual Assault (from the JMU Student Handbook)
Some guidelines if you have recently experienced a sexual assault:
- Go to a safe place.
- Call the department of public safety (540-568-6912) if the incident occurred on campus; call the Harrisonburg police (540-434-4436) if it occurred off campus.
- Contact a friend or family member.
- Do not shower, bathe, or douche. Try not to urinate if possible.
- Do not eat, drink liquids, smoke or brush teeth if oral contact took place.
- Keep the clothes worn during the offense. If clothes are changed, place clothes in a paper bag (evidence deteriorates in plastic).
- Get prompt medical attention.
- Do not destroy the physical evidence that may be found in the vicinity of the crime. If the crime occurred in the victim's home, the victim should not clean or straighten until the police have had an opportunity to collect evidence.
- Tell someone all details remembered about the assault.
- Write down all details remembered as soon as possible.
- Remember, this was not your fault!
Some of your options include:
- Go to Rockingham Memorial Hospital for injuries and/or data collection.
- Individual and/or group counseling through the Counseling & Student Development Center.
- Advocacy services through the Counseling & Student Development Center, through which you can receive assistance in:
- Listen and believe the survivor, affirming that he/she has your support.
- Often, survivors blame themselves for their experience. Assure them that it was not their fault, even if they were intoxicated. The only person who should take responsibility for what happened is the assailant.
- Do not be offended if the person does not tell you everything immediately. The survivor may be afraid of others' reactions and feel shameful about what happened. Waiting to share can be very common.
- Give control to the survivor. Allow him/her to speak for him/herself. Sexual assault is a crime that takes away individual power. Survivors need to make their own decisions so they can regain power over their own lives.
- Seek support for yourself, call a hotline such as CARE (Campus Assault ResponseE) or consider contacting the Counseling & Student Development Center to utilize consultation services.
Who will I talk to if I come into the counseling center?
You will be scheduled for an appointment with a qualified staff counselor to help you make the decisions you feel necessary regarding the assault and to explore the issue or problem. Counseling at the CSDC is a collaborative endeavor in which the counselor and client work together to identify goals and directions for treatment.
Will I be forced to give details about the assault?
No. You are only required to share what you are comfortable sharing. Our immediate concern for you is your safety. After safety has been established, you have control over what you choose to share.
Will I have to give the name of my assailant?
Only if you choose to share during a session. All information is kept with strict confidentiality.
If I choose to go to the hospital, what will happen there?
You may choose to go to the hospital for any injuries that may have occurred, to have evidence collected, questions regarding the possibility of pregnancy, or questions concerning STI transference.
If you choose to have evidence of the assault collected within 72 hours of the assault, and are considering pressing charges, you will be seen by a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE), who will prepare a kit of the evidence. This kit will be sent away for forensic analysis, kept confidential, and if you choose, anonymous. You will not see the results of this kit. It is best to have these kits completed within 72 hours of the assault. You have approximately 90 days after evidence collection to determine if you wish to press charges.
Do I have to press charges?
No. If you do not wish to press charges against the assailant, you do not have to.
Do I have to tell my parents?
No. If you do not want your parents to know about the assault, you do not have to tell them. However, they may be able to assist you with any resources you may need or additional support.
Will the counselor talk about my business to other people?
No. Counselors are sworn by a code of ethics and Virginia law not to breach client-counselor confidentiality. There are a few exceptions: if the client is expressing harm to him/herself or others, if there is a current case of child or elder abuse, or in the event of a court order.
I was drinking when it happened. Doesn't that make it my fault?
No. Just because you drink, does not mean you are asking to be sexually assaulted or raped. You do not lose any rights as a person if you choose to consume alcohol.
Myth: Only women are victims of sexual assault or rape, and only men commit these acts.
Reality: Both men and women can be sexually assaulted or raped, and assailants can be male or female with any sexual orientation.
Myth: If a person has been drinking alcohol
when he or she is sexually assaulted, that person should take part in
some of the responsibility.
Reality: Sexual assault survivors are never responsible for the attack, no matter what, no matter how much alcohol was consumed. You do not lose your rights as a person because you chose to consume alcohol. The assailant should take responsibility for his/her own actions.
Myth: You can't be raped or sexually assaulted by your significant other.
Reality: Any form of unwanted sexual activity in any relationship constitutes as sexual assault.
Myth: A person is most likely to be assaulted by a stranger, in unfamiliar places or at night.
Reality: Approximately 80-85% of assailants are some form of an acquaintance to their victim.
Myth: Women often falsely accuse men of
sexual assault or rape (for example, to get back at them, or because
they regret or feel guilty about having sex).
Reality: Nearly all rapes are truthfully reported, and, in fact, rapes are vastly underreported.
Myth: Rapists have psychological problems; that is why they sexually assault people.
Reality: Most assailants are males with no history of mental disorder. Reasoning for their actions can be quite complicated and unique for each individual.
Myth: There are certain cultural backgrounds or races that tend to produce most perpetrators of sexual assault.
Reality: Perpetrators include men and women of all races, ethnicities, ages, sexual orientations, as well as economic and social classes.
Myth: You have to be young and a woman to be at risk for sexual assault.
Reality: Women of all ages are at risk; in fact 25% of women will be assaulted in the course of her lifetime.
Myth: If the victim did not resist the assailant, or there were no weapons or injuries, then it can't be considered rape.
Reality: Threats of violence are weapons, and victims may not resist because they fear further injury or death
Myth: Only white females can be sexually assaulted.
Fact: Anyone can be sexually assaulted and anyone can be a sexual assailant. There is no typical profile of a victim or a perpetrator. Survivors or assailants of sexual assault can cross all lines of ethnicity, sexuality, gender and religion.
- Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, and intersex individuals may experience additional difficulties and fear in the event of sexual assault than do heterosexual individuals.
- Reporting an incident may involve disclosing one's sexual orientation, and thereby create fear of alienation, misunderstanding, or exposure to assumptions and judgments.
- Additionally, since numerous LGBTQI communities can be very close, survivors may fear losing friends or facing avoidance from other community members.
- Transgender individuals may experience additional discrimination during reporting if anatomy and/or appearance do not match stereotypical gender norms.
- If a male survivor was under the impression that sexual assault only happened to women, he may feel isolated and alone.
- Due to societal standards in western cultures, male survivors may feel emasculated.
- If the assault was perpetrated by another man, the survivor may struggle with confusion relating to sexual orientation.
- Men may avoid disclosing their assault, seeking services, or choosing legal prosecution because of assumptions that may be made about them that may be made about them, their gender role, or their sexuality
- Male survivors may also assume that there are no resources available for men who have suffered from sexual assault. Fortunately, this is not the case.
Racial and Ethnic Minority Survivors:
- As seen with other types of diverse populations, racial and ethnic minority sexual assault survivors face unique barriers and difficulties.
- Sometimes, the issue of racism becomes evident in assaults and survivors may need additional resources to cope with this additional trauma.
- In some cultures, seeking help is not easy or even acceptable. These cultures often place value on relying upon family members, community, church, or God(s) rather than upon support outside of the community.
- With the notion that they may be frowned upon for seeking additional help, or contacting legal assistance, some survivors may not disclose the assault and attempt to deal with the trauma on their own.
- An additional struggle is fear of scrutiny and misunderstanding from potential service providers due to anticipated racism.
Survivors with Religious Affiliations
- Individuals from religious backgrounds may also face unique struggles after a sexual assault.
- In some religious affiliations, sexual assault survivors seek support within their organization and look to their faith in order to help them cope with the trauma. Alternatively, some religious cultures place high value in chastity and wholeness. To have engaged in sexual activity may be considered sinful or shameful.
- Survivors who are members of these religious organizations may experience fear in disclosing the assault as well as shame and a perception of responsibility for the events.
Survivors with Low Socioeconomic Status:
- A common barrier and concern for sexual assault survivors who live in a low socioeconomic status is a means to locate and pay for resources that may benefit them.
- Some survivors may experience a sense of hopelessness and avoid looking for available services because they may feel that they are nonexistent.
- There are services available for survivors who meet this description, such as counseling agencies that provide counseling services with a sliding scale payment option.
College Student Survivors:
- Although college students may identify with one or more of the categories described here, they also have distinctive struggles related to their life stage and development.
- Unfortunately, many colleges and universities have alcohol driven cultures in which sexual assault is all too common, making this population at especially high risk for unwanted sexual contact.
- In fact, at least fifty percent of college students' sexual assaults are associated with alcohol use and ninety percent of campus assaults are committed by an acquaintance of the victim.
- Since many college students move away from home, sexual assault survivors may feel isolated and alone in their pain. This reaction may be even more acute if the survivor is in a new location and he or she may is unaware or unfamiliar of the support services available in the area.
- A fear of academic failure may also consume survivors who are in college.
- Depressed feelings, isolation, and feelings of helplessness may prevent the survivor from engaging in school work.
- Time away from school for legal purposes connected with the assault may create additional stress. Completing assignments late, taking time off, or delaying graduation may become considerations.
- Survivors have a need to take control of their lives and college students may disregard emotional feelings to complete school work.
How Can I Help?
- Believe the person who tells you that he or she has been assaulted and remember that it is NEVER the survivor's fault.
- Realize that people of all shapes, sizes, races, ethnicities, religions, genders, sexual orientations, and socioeconomic statuses can be affected by sexual assault.
- Educate yourself on different stereotypes and myths surrounding sexual assault.
- Recognize that degrading sex-role stereotypes and misconceptions about sexual orientation may make it difficult for individuals of diverse populations to disclose their experiences.
- Encourage the individual to seek additional services such as counseling, legal help, familial support, etc.
Quick Statistics About VirginiaThe following report experiencing rape in their lifetime:
- 3% of men (13% experience sexual assault);
- 18% of Hispanic women;
- 27% of African American women;
- 28% of White women;
- 29% of women identified as Asian, Pacific Islander, Hawaiian, mixed race or other ethnic group.
Barry, D.M., & Cell, P.M. (2009). Campus Response Teams: Program development and operational management. New Jersey: Civic Research Institute.
Leftwich, B., Perry, B., & Odor, R.K. (2007). Virginia Needs and Resources Assessment and State Plan for Sexual Violence Prevention. Virginia Dept. of Health.
Masho, S., & Odor, R. K. (2003). Prevalence of Sexual Assault in Virginia. Virginia Department of Health.
Men Can Stop Rape (2006). Male survivors: What you should know about men who have been sexually assaulted.
University of Michigan. (2010) Sexual Assault Awareness & Prevention Center.
What is stalking?Stalking is a series of behaviors and actions toward a person that makes him/her feel afraid or in danger. Stalking is a serious action that may escalate over time and can become violent.
What does stalking look like?
- Following or spying on a person, including waiting outside one's home, school, or work.
- Attempting unwanted communication, including phone calls, text/picture messages, emails, and social networking sites.
- Monitoring phone or Internet use.
- Leaving unwanted items for one to find.
- Damaging property or items one cares for.
- Using technology as a means of tracking, such as hidden cameras or global positioning systems (GPS).
- Threatening someone and/or his or her family, friends, or pets.
- Using public records or other means of investigation to locate personal information.
- Any other actions that control, track, or frighten the person.
How often does stalking occur?
- 30% of women and 17% of men in the United States report being stalked.
- 25% of college students report having been stalked at some point during their college career.
- Most stalking victims are between the ages of 18 and 29.
- Individuals from all races, ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds are affected by stalking.
3.4 million people are stalked each year in the United States.
How might I act or feel if I am being stalked?
- Possible emotional reactions include fear, vulnerability, anxiety, irritability, sadness, hopelessness, being overwhelmed, confusion, frustration, isolation, and anger.
- Having flashbacks or disturbing thoughts, feelings, or memories regarding the incident(s).
- Possible behavioral reactions include trouble sleeping, focusing, or remembering.
- Problems associated with eating including loss of appetite, forgetting to eat, or overeating.
- Disruptions in social and/or other networks.
What are some characteristics of stalkers?
- Stalkers are more likely to be former intimate partners of their victims than any other form of relationship.
- Men stalk women; men stalk men; women stalk men; and women stalk women.
- A stalker can be from any socioeconomic background, race, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation.
There is no stereotypical stalker or stalking situation!
What about Cyberstalking?
- Cyberstalking is one of the most common methods stalkers use to track their victims, to locate private/personal information of their victim, and to contact their victim.
- Cyberstalking may be more dangerous because the stalker may have higher access to information. It is also easier for the stalker to conceal his/her identity and use methods of deceit.
What does Virginia Law say about stalking?
- Stalking is considered a crime and is prohibited.
- If a perpetrator of stalking is found guilty, a protective order will be made by the court in addition to the perpetrator's sentence.
If I suspect I am being stalked, what can I do?
- You may report the incident(s) to the Campus Police or to the Harrisonburg City Police.
- If you believe you are being stalked by another university student, you may contact Judicial Affairs.
- You may also receive support services from the Counseling & Student Development Center or the Office of Residence Life.
- Refrain from responding directly to all attempts of communication from the stalker. Communication or any attention at all only encourages the stalker.
- Take all threats seriously.
- Trust your instincts.
- Keep all pictures of damages to property, phone logs, emails, and letters-they are evidence.
- Create a safety plan for yourself and consider a court protective order.
- Use long, complicated passwords for Internet web sites, e-mails, online banking, and other portals that may contain personal information.
- Choose security questions and answers that only you would know.
- Use extreme caution when exchanging information via the Internet.
Alexy, E. M., Burgess, A. W., Baker, T., & Smoyak, S. A. (2005). Perceptions of cyberstalking among college students. Brief Treatment and Crisis Intervention, 5(3). 279-289.
Amar, A. F., & Alexy, E. A. (2010). Coping with stalking. Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 13. 8-14.
Phillips, L., Quirk, R., Rosenfeld, B., & O'Connor, M.
(2004). Is it stalking? Perceptions of stalking among undergraduates. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 31(1). 73-96.
Stalking Resource Center. (2010). Are you being stalked? The National Center for Victims of Crime. Retrieved from www.ncvc.org/src.
Stalking Resource Center. (2010). Virginia: Civil stalking law. The National Center for Victims of Crime. Retrieved from www.ncvc.org/src/main.aspx?dbID=DB_Virginia103.
Stalking Resource Center. (2010). Virginia: January-March 2010. The National Center for Victims of Crime. Retrieved from www.ncvc.org/src/main.aspx?dbID=DB_LegislativeUpdates244#m10.
Truman, J. L., & Mustaine, E. E. (2009). Strategies for college student stalking victims: Examining the information and recommendations available. American Journal of Criminal Justice, 34. 69-34.
The Survivor's Report is an effort by the Sexual Assault Response Services Graduate Assistant to update the campus on program news, issues related to sexual assault as they are relevant to the JMU student population, and to debunk myths about sexual assault on college campuses.
- The Survivor's Report, Volume 2, Issue 1
- The Survivor's Report, Volume 2, Issue 2
- The Survivor's Report, Volume 2, Issue 3
- The Survivor's Report, Volume 2, Issue 4
- The Survivor's Report, Volume 1, Issue 1
- The Survivor's Report, Volume 1, Issue 2
As a supplement to the CSDC's Sexual Assault Services web page, several informational brochures have been compiled for your convenience. These documents both summarize and enhance the web material.
- CSDC Sexual Assault Services Brochure
- Stalking Brochure
- Multicultural Survivors of Sexual Assault Brochure
- Healthy Relationships Brochure
- Acquaintance Rape Brochure
- Department of Public Safety - 540-568-6911
Emergency contact, reporting, and reporting inquiries.
- CARE - 540-568-6411
24-hour student run sexual assault help line)
- Office of Judicial Affairs - 540-568-6218
To learn how JMU defines sexual assault; to learn about the judicial process at JMU.
- One in Four - 540-568-2831
All male student group working to spread awareness about sexual assault.
- Student Wellness & Outreach - 540-568-2831
Information about sexual assault education, prevention, and outreach contact
- The Collins Center - 540-434-2272
24-hour sexual assault crisis hotline, counseling services, prevention and outreach
- Commonwealth Attorney's Victim Witness Program - 540-564-3350
Assistance & support through the criminal trial process
- Harrisonburg Police Department - 540-434-4436
State and National Services:
- Domestic Violence Hotline - 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
- It Happened to Alexa Foundation: The Foundation offers assistance to defray costs of transportation and housing, so that the victim's support person can attend and take part in the criminal justice proceedings and be with them at this most difficult time. The trial venue must be over 60 miles from the residence of the support persons in order to qualify.
- FaithTrust Institute (all religions and ethnicities) www.faithtrustinstitute.org/
- Men's Domestic Abuse Helpline - 1-888-HELPLINE (1-888-743-5754)
- National Gay and Lesbian Task Force www.thetaskforce.org
- National Organization on Male Sexual Victimization www.malesurvivor.org
- National Sexual Assault Hotline - 1-800-656-HOPE
- Pandora's Project - http://www.pandys.org/
Online message board for survivors and friends or family of survivors.
- RAINN: 24-hour online chat support (https://ohl.rainn.org/online)
The Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network; information gateway and support forum.
- Stalking Resource Center: The National Center for Victims of Crime1-800-394-2255 (1-800-FYI-CALL)
- Students Active for Ending Rape (SAFER) http://safercampus.org/
- Virginia Family Violence & Sexual Assault Hotline - 1-800-838-8238
Toll-free, confidential, 24-hour service that provides crisis intervention, support, information, and referrals to family violence and sexual assault survivors, their friends and families, professionals, and the general public.