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How to Report a Sexual Assault

If you would like to report a sexual assault, you have both on-campus and off campus options available to you.

Option 1- Pursue Campus Disciplinary Charges

  • Report to a campus official such as the Dean of Students or Campus Police or Security
  • You have a right to have your report investigated. This may take several days to several weeks.
  • A public warning may be issued to help keep your campus safe. Your name and information will not be used within this warning.
  • Depending on complexity and jurisdiction, local law enforcement may be involved if you report to campus police.
  • If requested, campus personnel can issue a "no contact" order.
  • The report will be forwarded to the office responsible for student or employee discipline.
  • The office responsible for disciplinary action follows up. A conduct hearing may take place, at which:
  • You are entitled to the same opportunity as the accused to have a support person or persons present.
  • If the accused is found responsible, appropriate sanctions will be determined. You and the accused will be notified of the outcome and any sanctions. You have the right to share this information with others if you so choose.

Option 2 – Pursue Criminal Charges

  • If you would like their assistance, campus personnel must assist you in reporting to campus or local law enforcement.
  • If requested, campus personnel can issue a “no contact” order.
  • A public warning may be issued to help keep your campus safe. Your name and information will not be used within this warning.
  • An investigation is conducted by campus or local law enforcement.
  • An investigation report is forwarded to a local prosecutor’s office for possible prosecution, which would occur in criminal court.
  • You are entitled to certain rights and to have an advocate present for all police, prosecutor, and court appointments as provided by state law.

Option 3 – Pursue Both University and Criminal Charges

  • In this instance, options 1 and 2 occur simultaneously. The institutional and criminal processes occur independently of one another and the college or university should not refuse to act while awaiting the outcome of a criminal case.

Option 4 – Report Assault but Choose Not To Pursue Charges

  • If you wish to have a “no contact” order in place, you can request one from the appropriate office. An institutional “no contact” order applies to campus only. In some situations, you may be able to obtain a protective order that extends off-campus through a local court.
  • A public warning may be issued to keep your campus safe. Your name and information will not be used in this warning.
  • Counseling and support services are still available and encouraged.

Whatever decision you make, know that free, confidential support is available. To find resources near you, call the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network’s Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE.

Should I Report?

Choosing whether to report a sexual assault is a personal decision that only you can make. Only about 5% of campus sexual assaults are reported – in fact, it is the most underreported violent crime.

Why? Survivors have concerns about:

  • Lack of evidence that the assault occurred
  • The reaction they will receive from their institution or from law enforcement if they do report
  • Retaliation by the perpetrator or by others within the campus community
  • Whether the incident is serious enough to report
  • How and where to make a report
  • Whether their family or friends will find out about the assault
  • Whether they will get in trouble if alcohol or drugs were involved
  • Maintaining control throughout the process

Whatever you decide, know there are individuals within the local and campus communities that are able to offer you information and support. Regardless of the specifics of your situation, no one has the right to hurt you and there are many different reporting options, should you decide to do so. An advocate, whether on-campus or through a rape crisis center, can help you explore your options, answer any questions you may have, and address some of your concerns. If you do not know who to contact, the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network has a 24-hour hotline (1-800-656-HOPE) that can direct you to local resources.

If you need more information before connecting with an advocate or other support, RAINN’s Reporting Rape page answers common questions a survivor may have when deciding whether or not to report a rape or sexual assault.