Sexual Assault……What is it?
Sexual assault is a broad term which refers to any unwanted sexual contact, including, but not limited to, intercourse, perpetrated by the use or threat of force, or when the victim is incapable of giving consent. There are several other terms related to sexual assault: rape, sexual harassment and dating violence.
Rape is sexual intercourse, sexual penetration with genital or foreign objects. Sexual harassment refers to verbal or physical sexual conduct that makes a person feel uncomfortable or pressured into sexual activity and/or dating violence. Dating violence refers to physical, sexual or emotional abuse within a dating relationship. All of these can occur regardless of gender or sexual orientation.
Keep in mind that there are some emotional and physical symptoms common to those who have experienced sexual assault. The effects of these events may show up immediately or they may appear weeks, months, or years later.
Common Emotional Symptoms:
Shock, fatigue, sadness, anger, nightmares, guilt, panic, isolation, self-blame, tearfulness, memory problems, relationship problems, intrusive thoughts, confusion and sense of loss.
Common Physical/Behavioral Symptoms:
Headaches, aches and pains, overeating, loss of appetite, decreased performance levels, social isolation and sleep disorders.
What To Expect
These symptoms do not imply weakness, just that the event was too powerful for the person to handle alone.
Remember, you are having a normal reaction to an abnormal event! So experiencing and accepting the natural responses or the symptoms represent an important part of the healing process. Be patient and kind to yourself. Here are some other ways that you may want to deal with your reactions:
- Talk openly about your feelings and/or symptoms
- Pay attention to your diet
- Engage in exercise or a physical activity
- Meditate or use some form of relaxation
- Be wary of numbing the pain by using alcohol and/or drugs
- Do not make big life changes
- Keep a journal
What should I do if I have been assaulted:
- Go to a safe place and find someone to assist and support you.
- Seek medical attention immediately. It is very important for you to obtain medical attention for any internal or external injuries, STDs, or emergency contraception. In order to gain any physical evidence you should not take a shower, wash hands or feet, comb hair, or get rid of your clothes. Additionally, you should not drink anything, smoke, urinate or defecate, if possible.
- If you can, report the assault to local police (911) or campus police at 443-885-3103. The police can help you understand the legal aspects and proceedings of the assault. The more sexual assaults that are reported, the more perpetrators are arrested and convicted. All forms of sexual assault are viewed as serious University offenses.
- File a report with the EEO/Diversity Office on campus (443-885-3559). If the accused perpetrator is a Morgan State University student, then a victim may initiate judicial action regardless of whether she or he has filed criminal charges. Also, a victim may request a change in on-campus living situation and other accommodations relating to the assault.
- Talk about the incident and express your emotions with a University Counselor. This will aid in your healing.
Helping Family and Friends
Helping a family member or a friend after a traumatic event could be difficult because you may not know what to say or do. It can be stressful for the person helping a friend following the traumatic event. In general, it is important for the victim to know that you support and care for them. Some suggestions for helping:
- Listen carefully
- Give them private time
- Avoid judging statements
- Assist with finding and utilizing outside resources
- Do not minimize their feelings
In our quest to help others, we may forget that we are not taking care of ourselves. You may need the opportunity to express your emotions.
Turn to other friends or family members for support.
Finding support can help you feel like a survivor rather than a victim. The Morgan State University Counseling Center can help you address and understand your feelings, assist you in identifying normal reactions to crisis situations, and aid you by looking at how your life and relationships have been impacted. When you are talking to a counselor you are not making a report or a formal complaint.
The Morgan State University Counseling Center provides free and confidential individual and group counseling services as well as assists you in gaining community resources.
Counseling Center: 443-885-3130
Campus Police: 443-885-3103
Diversity/EEO Office: 443-885-3559
Health Services: 443-885-3236
Office of Residence Life: 443-885-3217
MD Coalition Against Sexual Assault: 1-800-983-7273
Mercy Medical Center: 410-332-9499
TurnAround Inc.: 410-377-8111
RAINN-Rape Assault Incest National Network: 1-800-656-4673