The following are general guidelines on how to respond to students who are victims of a sexual assault while on one of Messiah’s approved off-campus experiences. Leaders will be provided training on this protocol prior to the departure of their experience off-campus.
A variety of offices at Messiah University can provide information on appropriate and compassionate response to a victim of sexual assault, including:
· Human Resources and Compliance (Amanda Coffey) at 717.796.5300 or ACoffey@messiah.edu.
· Department of Safety (Cindy Burger) at 717.691.6005 or CBurger@messiah.edu.
· Division of Student Success and Engagement (Kris Hansen-Kieffer/Doug Wood) at 717.796.5234 or KHansen@messiah.edu or DWood@messiah.edu.
· Or, if the student requires anonymous reporting, The Engle Health & Counseling Center (Eleanor Muir) at 717.766.2511 x6035 or EMuir@messiah.edu.
Any of these offices can assist in responding to an assault, moving the process forward, and overseeing the documentation process.
Victims of sexual assault may be men or women. Ninety-nine percent of perpetrators are male regardless of the victim’s gender. In this document the victim is referred to as “her,” with the acknowledgement that this is for the sake of clarity and continuity.
In the event a sexual assault occurs during your supervision of an off-campus trip, you may be called upon by the victim to provide assistance and referral for medical, emotional, and legal care. Following are some steps that administrators and trip leaders should take pre-assault and post-assault:
o Discuss the issues with students before departing. Make sure at pre-departure orientation the issue of sexual assault is addressed. Emergency contact information and other materials should be given to students and there should be written verification that they received them. This is primarily done through Messiah’s online application system, Terra Dotta, coordinated and administered by the Intercultural Office.
o Keep a current file. All information regarding what to do and who to contact should be kept in an easily accessible file and updated so that it is always current. This information can also be found on the Intercultural Office website at http://www.messiah.edu/info/20913/health_and_safety/1359/incident_reporting
o Discuss the importance of notification. Let students know that reporting any type of gender based harm, including sexual assault, is considered courageous and will be met with empathy. The University will advocate on behalf of the victim as is deemed appropriate.
· After Assault – The first concern is always the immediate physical and emotional well being of the student, but there are many post assault related issues. There is no typical reaction to being sexually assaulted. Victims present with varying affect and concerns. Some victims cry, some appear blunted, and some express rage. Be empathetic and accepting and take the following steps:
o Let the student make decisions. The victim may feel helpless and powerless. Allowing the victim to make decisions regarding her emotional and physical well-being helps to re-establish her feeling of self-determination. Ask her clear and focused questions and accept her choices, “Do you want to go to the police?” “Where would you like to stay tonight?” “Who do you want to stay with?” Honor her decisions even if they conflict with your beliefs.
o Be supportive. Remember your first priority is to be supportive. Do not attempt to persuade the student to follow a certain course of action or try to force her to do something she doesn’t want to do. Maintain your role as advocate for the choices she makes. Provide an empathetic and compassionate listening ear. Be careful to avoid questions that may insinuate blame or guilt such as, “How could you go to a place like that?” or “Why would you go out with a man you barely know?” Remember, sexual assault is a crime of power and she is a victim of the crime. The victim may feel embarrassment, shame, anger, anxiety, fear, and helplessness. Accept her feelings by actively listening to her concerns and validating her decision to seek out help.
o Make sure the student feels safe. Help to restore a sense of security for the student. If she does not feel safe in her room or with her host family, arrange for her to stay in a hotel with a friend. Allow the student to tell you what she thinks would make her feel safe. Explore suggested options with the student.
o Activate your contact list. After you have spoken with the student using the above guidelines, make contact with other entities as appropriate and based on the student’s wishes.
§ Messiah University 24-hour Dispatch Office. Dispatch has a call tree of on-campus administrators who will be notified, including:
· Director of the Intercultural Office
· Vice Provost/Dean of Students
· VP of Operations
· VP of Human Resources and Compliance
· Director of Safety
· Director of the Engle Health & Counseling Center
· Other administrators as appropriate.
§ UnitedHealthcare Global. As soon as possible after a report of a sexual assault, call UnitedHealthcare Global at the phone number listed on your identification card or call collect from anywhere in the world at (401) 453-6330. UnitedHealthcare Global will assist in all cases where a member has been sexually assaulted. All actions taken will be done to maintain the safety, respect, and dignity of the victim, and to guide her/him to medical, legal and counseling resources. UnitedHealthcare Global will assist with the following but are not limited to:
· Helping the member locate the nearest embassy or consulate;
· Contacting emergency services;
· Filing a police report and legal recourse;
· Encouraging the member to seek medical assistance;
· Advising the member to preserve as much evidence as possible by placing clothing in a paper bag, not drinking, eating, showering, brushing teeth or rinsing mouth;
· Assisting the member with seeking medical evaluation and treatment; and
· Offer a referral for post-incident counseling.
§ Closest US Embassy or Consulate. Consular officers are available around the clock to help the students obtain medical care, explain the local criminal justice process, and connect students to local and U.S.-based resources. Embassy or consulate staff can help the student understand whether police agencies may handle an investigation differently–slower (or not at all), less delicately, or otherwise—than police in the United States. Regardless, documentation of as much information as possible, as quickly as possible is very important. Note that consular officers cannot investigate crimes or provide legal advice.
§ Local police. Many foreign law enforcement agencies will not begin to investigate unless a report has been filed. If possible, students should ask for a copy of the police report.
§ Suggest the student call her parents or guardians.
§ Remind the student of resources available upon returning to campus.
o Provide accompaniment. Someone of her choosing should accompany the student on assault related follow-up: to the hospital, to the police station, to her apartment, etc.
o Maintain a level of confidentiality. Let her know you are obligated to contact the University and report the incident. Advise the student who you’re calling and why. Allow her to choose whether or not to contact additional support and resources.
o Document everything. Take copious notes. Create a chronology of events. What you want to capture is the following:
§ A description of the assault: who, where, when, how. Include date and time.
§ Location of medical facility and date/time taken there. Record what was said between the medical staff, the student, and whoever else is present.
§ The time of each of your contacts and what transpired.
§ Document the conversations you have with the student. Identify who is present, what’s discussed, and what decisions the student makes.
§ Date and time the US Embassy/Consulate and local police are notified. Document what transpires between the student and the police.
§ Keep documenting until the designated University contact tells you to stop.
o Support other students on trip. Call the student group together to communicate a difficult situation has taken place that is protected by confidentiality. Students should be encouraged to not speculate on the incident, nor communicate back to family, friends, or the public in general (via Facebook, email or otherwise) about the facts or perceptions of the incident. Designate a secondary on-site leader or in-country partner to provide care and support to the student group while the primary on-site leader continues to support the impacted student(s).
o Work with University administrators to determine next steps. Keep an open line of communication with the University to determine how to appropriate determine next steps as the situation continues to develop and evolve.
This document is a condensed version of the U.S. Peace Corps “Rape Response Handbook” which can be found at the Center for Global Education website: http://globaled.us/Peacecorps/Rape-Response-Handbook.Asp