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"I was sexually assaulted. What should I do?"


Go to a safe place

Immediately after an assault, one of the first concerns should be to get out of physical danger and away from the perpetrator(s). Go to a safe place, such as a friend's room, the Counseling Center during weekday business hours, or contact JHU Security for onsite assistance and/or an escort to a local hospital.

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Ask for support

Sometimes a victim does not want to report a rape or assault immediately. That is a victim’s choice, but it is important for victims to speak to someone, especially someone who can provide support and help you find resources and options to address what has happened. 

You may choose to tell a friend or family member about the incident or someone who works at the college. If you choose to discuss what happened with a JHU employee, you should know that individuals in certain positions at the college can offer greater confidentiality by virtue of their profession. A RA, staff member, or faculty member is required to share information about the incident and may also be required to provide identifiable information if a member of the college community is at risk. However, JHU’s Chaplain, and Student Health (Homewood and East Baltimore campuses) and Counseling Center counselors (Homewood and East Baltimore campuses) are not obligated to do so. If you are concerned about confidentiality, ask the person what his or her obligations are before you start the discussion.

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Get Medical Attention (whether you report to police or not)

If you choose to report to the police, you may be asked to have a Sexual Assault Forensic Exam (SAFE) performed at Mercy Hospital. Better evidence will be collected if within the first 48 hours after an assault, you do not shower, bathe, go to the bathroom, douche, smoke, eat, drink, brush teeth or hair or change clothes between the time of the incident and the time of the SAFE exam. You should bring a change of clothes including underwear. Campus Security can provide transportation to the hospital for a SAFE exam. If you wish for a JHU counselor to meet you there, advise Campus Security, and a counselor will be contacted.

Even if you are undecided as to whether to report to police, you can have evidence collected in a SAFE exam. The evidence will be held under an assigned name for some period of time, giving you an opportunity to decide whether you wish to press charges against the perpetrator(s).

If you do not choose to report to local law enforcement, it is important for you to have a medical examination to check for physical injuries, the presence of sexually transmitted diseases, and pregnancy as a result of the sexual assault. For this, you can choose to go to JHU’s Health Center weekdays from 9 am until 5 pm. Contact JHU’s Health Center at: 410-516-8270. You will be examined by a physician or nurse practitioner who will assess your injuries if any, provide emergency contraception, and test for STDs. JHU's Health Center is not able to provide forensic exam and evidence collection.

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Take care of your mental health

  • Sexual assault can be an extremely traumatic experience.
  • You may often feel numb, unsafe, regretful, guilty, overwhelmed, fearful, depressed, worthless, panicked, worthy of blame, and even suicidal.
  • You may find that you are indulging in riskier behaviors, and are prone to abuse alcohol and other drugs.
  • Some survivors may suffer Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome, characterized by extreme depression, panic attacks, sleep problems, flashbacks, irritability, mood swings, intrusive thoughts, and nightmares. These symptoms can continue for months. They are normal reactions to a traumatic event, and can be addressed with therapy.
  • Build a strong support network, keep your body healthy, and commit yourself to keeping your life going. Eat regular meals, avoid excessive use of alcohol or other drugs, get daily physical activity and allow regular sleep.
  • Consider calling the Sexual Assault Helpline at 410-516-7333.

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Know your rights

You should also know that JHU is required to collect and report serious crime statistics every year, under a federal law called the Clery Act. Under Clery, college faculty and staff (with the exception of the Chaplain, medical and psychological counseling personnel) are required to report to JHU Security any serious crime on campus of which they have knowledge. The information in a Clery report is of a statistical nature and contains no identifying information at all. The Chaplain, medical and psychological counseling personnel, while not required, may choose to make a Clery statistical report, but again, would not do so in a way that contains identifying information.

The annual statistical report is cumulative, completely anonymous, and doesn't include any details about individual incidents.

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