What to do when a sexual assault happens
We never want it to happen, but when it does here's what we recommend. Survivors identify these actions as important steps in the recovery process.
Get to a safe place. Friends, dorm staff members, university staff members, and/or police officers may be of assistance. It may also be helpful to have someone go with you to seek medical services and emotional support. You may ask a Sewanee Police officer (931.598.1111) for a safe ride home or to the hospital without being obligated to report the assault. The Women's Center resource room is a 24 hour safe space, available to all students.*
Get immediate medical attention. There are several important reasons to go to a hospital or an appropriate medical facility (e.g. Emerald Hodgson Hospital, University Health Services, Chattanooga Rape Crisis Center) following a sexual assault: (1) identify and treat any physical injuries (some internal injuries may not be immediately apparent to you); (2) take sexually transmitted disease prevention measures, and to learn about pregnancy prevention options; and (3) collect forensic evidence. This may include completion of an "Evidence Collection Kit," which documents evidence of foreign hair, body fluids, or injuries to your body. Testing for Rohypnol, GHB, or other "date rape drugs" may also be advisable, under some circumstances. You can take a support person with you to the hospital, and they can accompany you through the exam, if you want. While most medical professionals and emergency room should be capable of supporting you, we recommend you call their hotline at 423.755.2700 and avail yourself of the services of the Chattanooga Rape Crisis Center. Sewanee students can contact the All American Taxi service at 423.867.6190 for a ride to the center. Charges for the taxi service will be directed to the University.
We recommend you call the Chattanooga Rape Crisis Center hotline at 423.755.2700 and avail yourself of the services of the Chattanooga Rape Crisis Center. Sewanee students can contact the All American Taxi service at 1.888.514.TAXI (8294) for a ride to the center, if a friend is not available to offer a ride. Charges for the taxi service will be directed to the University.
Preserve physical evidence of the assault. Resist urges to shower, change clothes, brush teeth, urinate, eat, drink, smoke, or take any medications until after you receive medical attention. The forensic evidence will be much more accurate and helpful if you do so. If you have changed clothing since the assault, bring the clothing you had on at the time of the assault with you to the hospital in a clean, sanitary container such as a clean paper grocery bag or wrapped in a clean sheet (plastic containers do not breathe, and may render evidence useless). If you have not changed clothes, bring a change of clothes with you to the hospital, if possible, as they will likely keep the clothes you are wearing as evidence.
All forensic evidence must be collected within 72 hours of the assault--and the earlier the better. Having forensic evidence collected does not obligate you to pursue legal or disciplinary action--it merely preserves this as an option.*
Get immediate emotional support. Accessing peers, professional counseling services, companionship, advocacy and/or crisis hotlines soon after an assault is important. For help, contact a dorm staff member and/or one of the University resources listed below or an outside organization.
Consider your legal and disciplinary options. Pressing charges and seeking justice can help. Survivors report that doing so rebuilds senses of safety and personal effectiveness. You decide whether or not to file a personal police report of the assault.* Reporting the assault does not obligate you to press charges. Contact one of the Deans of Students at 931.598.1229 (931.598.1111 after hours) to report an incident and to learn more about school disciplinary options. Your privacy and the confidentiality of the situation are of utmost importance and will be preserved, but all incidents must be reviewed. You may contact the Sewanee Police at 931.598.1111 to report an incident or to learn your legal options. The Franklin County Sheriff's Department, at 931.962.0123, or the Sexual Assault and Family Violence Services, at 1.800.346.5032, are other available resources.
Get follow-up medical and counseling services. The University Health Service offers free testing for sexually transmitted diseases. They can also assist with ongoing care for physical injuries sustained in an assault.
Ask for Academic and other help. After an assault, students may need to address new safety needs. Changing residence halls or phone numbers or academic interventions can be arranged through the Deans of Students.
Chattanooga Rape Crisis Center. We recommend you call their hotline at 423.755.2700 and avail yourself of the services of the Chattanooga Rape Crisis Center. Sewanee students can contact the All American Taxi service at 1.888.514.TAXI (8294) for a ride to the center. Charges for the taxi service will be directed to the University.
People Who Can Help:RAINN is the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network. A 24-hour hotline offers crisis counseling and information about support available call (800) 656-4673 or online at www.RAINN.org.
Dean Mary Beth Bankson, 931.598.1988, hm 931-598-3527
Dean Eric Hartman, 931.598.1229, hm 931-598-5998
Marie Elridge, Sewanee Police, 931.598.1111.
People Who Can Help Confidentially:
Karen Tharp, Director University Health Services, 931.598.1270
Natalie Owsley, Nurse Practitioner UHS, 931.598.1270, hm 931-598-9217
Katherine Mulloy, Nurse Practitioner, UHS, 931.598.1270
Dave Spaulding, Director, Counseling Services, 931.598.1325
* Note: In Tennessee, medical providers and law enforcement agents are required to report suspected or reported sexual assault incidents to state authorities. The assault victim is not identified by name, and is not required to press charges, or even participate in the crime investigation, unless he or she wishes to.