Support and Response
What To Do after a Sexual Assault
- Believe the survivor. The greatest fear of a sexual assault survivor is that they will not be believed; accept what you are hearing. Avoid judgement.
- Validate the significance of the event. Do not minimize the trauma they experienced. Recognizing the impact of the assault on their life may be helpful in the healing process.
- Listen and be patient. Let her/him tell her/his story at their own pace. Demonstrate care.
- Reinforce that the sexual assault was not the student's fault.
- Refer student to confidential resources or one of three options (see below).
Immediate Support and Medical Attention
Option 1 (Confidential): Chattanooga Rape Crisis Center also offers Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) exams and services. They can be contacted at 423.755.2700; similarly the survivor can choose whether or not they would like to notify law enforcement. This IS a confidential resource until the student chooses to send the information to TBI.
Option 2 (Partially Confidential): Southern Tennessee Regional Hospital—Sewanee offers a sexual assault kit collection; there is a SANE trained nurse on staff. Upon completion of a sexual assault kit, they are obligated to notify law enforcement to come and transport it to the TBI (Tennessee Bureau of Investigation) for analysis. They can be contacted at 931.598.5691. This resource is partially confidential but involved parties should know that the local hospital’s protocol is to contact the Sewanee Police Department for an evidence kit. Police will likely want to gather additional information.
Option 3 (Non-confidential): Call the Sewanee Police Department (931.598.1111) for support, emergency protection, and investigation. This is not confidential. Investigations can require interviewing relevant witnesses. Police can also provide a safe ride home or to the hospital. While officers are trained to ask questions, a student is not required to report information in exchange for transportation.
Option 4 (Non-confidential): Call the Dean of Students On-Call Staff (931.598.1111) for support, student protection, and University investigation. This is not confidential.
The University Wellness Center (UWC) offers SANE exams to collect forensic evidence. This is a confidential and free service. UWC will not compromise their confidentiality by billing insurance. If requested and/or necessary, the UWC will send rape kits to the Sewanee Police Department and to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) for initial evidence testing. These kits can be sent confidentially and without a name attached as “Jane Doe” or “John Doe” numbered kits. You are not required to have a SANE exam. You may have a medical exam instead to make sure you are taken care of physically. This too is confidential. The UWC has counseling and medical services available for survivors. You may initiate help at the UWC by contacting 931.598.1270.
The importance of immediate medical attention. There are several important reasons to go to a hospital or an appropriate medical facility (e.g. Southern Tennessee Regional Hospital, University Wellness Center, Chattanooga Rape Crisis Center) following a sexual assault, namely:
- to identify and treat any physical injuries (some internal injuries may not be immediately apparent to you);
- to take sexually transmitted disease prevention measures, and to learn about pregnancy prevention options; and
- to collect and preserve 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.
Important Contact Information
Campus Confidential Support
Wellness Center 931.598.1270
Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS) 931.598.1325
Health Services 931.598.1270
Confidential Medical Treatment/Support
Student Health Center 931.598.1270
Sewanee Hospital 931.598.5691
Winchester Hospital 931.967.8200
Chattanooga Rape Crisis Center 423.755.2700
Haven of Hope 931.728.1133
Off-Campus Confidential Support
Chattanooga Rape Crisis Center 423.755.2700
Haven of Hope 931.728.1133
Note on confidentiality: The University has designated its Wellness Center professionals to serve as confidential employees. Disclosures to these individuals are protected as “privileged communications” by federal and state health care privacy laws. That privilege is subject to certain limited legal exceptions, however. Examples include: legal reporting requirements (e.g., abuse of a minor); communications when a patient likely will cause serious physical harm to self or others as a result of mental illness; and sharing information for purposes of treatment and related health care operations (but only with the patient’s permission and a release.)
Chattanooga Rape Crisis Center (confidential)
Haven of Hope in Manchester, Tenn. (confidential)
RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) (confidential)
Tennessee Coalition to End Domestic & Sexual Violence
Follow-up on medical support and counseling services. The University Wellness Center includes three important services: free testing for sexually transmitted diseases; assistance with ongoing care for physical injuries sustained in an assault; and on going free counseling services to University students.
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. RAINN is a free and confidential resource.
Assistance from the Deans of Students
After an assault, students may need the support of the dean of students’ staff to address safety needs. Changing residence halls or phone numbers or other academic interventions can be arranged through the deans of students.
Students may initiate contact with a dean of students at any time to request information, assistance, and a broad range of support and accommodations, including interim measures (see below). Students are often initially referred to a dean of students by a confidential resource or a friend or another third party. Upon referral, a dean will discuss a student’s current circumstances with him or her to determine whether certain forms of support, assistance, or accommodations may be beneficial and appropriate at that time.
To contact a dean during regular business hours, students may call, email, or visit the office in person, at:
Dean of Students Office
To contact a dean or staff member on call after regular business hours, students may call the Sewanee Police Department 931.598.1111 and ask for the “staff on call.”
It is important for students to remember that staff on call and deans are required to report to the Title IX Coordinator any information students disclose to them about sexual misconduct. However, students are not obligated to disclose detailed information about an incident of sexual misconduct in order to obtain support and interim remedial measures.