Just a little more information
You have been through a traumatic experience. It took a great deal of strength and courage to come forward and share this information. This is the first significant step toward healing and exercising control in your own life. It is especially important for you to know and to believe that what happened to you was NOT your fault. You are in no way responsible.
It is also important for you to know that you have choices. These choices should be listened to, accepted and respected. This is your right. It is your right to be treated with dignity by each and every person you may deal with in this process. It is your right to choose with whom you speak and what you wish to share. If, at any point, you feel uncomfortable or pressured, in any way, you have the right to discontinue the conversation and to seek other support.
There are many individuals available who are trained to help victims of sexual assault and are sensitive to the issue. These include counselors, health service professionals, residential services staff and University Police, as well as community professionals.
During our meeting, you were provided with a great deal of information about services available for your emotional and physical well-being, as well as information about legal options. You may wish to take some time to review the following summary.
If you have questions, please feel free to call or stop by:
You are strongly encouraged to seek medical attention. You may go to the Student Health Service on campus, a private physician, the Jacobus Center for Reproductive Health, Cortland Regional Medical Center, or another health care facility of your choice. Reasons for receiving medical attention as quickly as possible include:
- The availability of medicines to reduce the risk of pregnancy. To be effective, these medicines must be given within 72 hours of intercourse. The sooner they are taken, the more effective they will be.
- The ability of your health care provider to prevent the transmission of some sexually transmitted infections by prescribing antibiotics.
- The need to discuss issues related to sexually transmitted infection, including HIV. Your health care provider can arrange for immediate STI/HIV testing and for future follow-up testing.
- The ability of your health care provider to document, diagnose and treat any injuries you may have received.
Of the health care facilities listed previously, only the Cortland Regional Medical Center is equipped to do a rape kit. This kit insures evidence is collected and processed in a way that best preserves your legal rights, should you decide to press charges. Evidence collection should be done as soon as possible after an assault. If you have not already done so, do not shower, douche, bathe or change your clothes. Even if you have, evidence may still be collected. Once the evidence is collected, the rape kit will be held by a law enforcement agency until you make a decision about filing charges. Remember, the rape kit is used for legal purposes. Any of the health care providers listed previously can take care of your medical needs.
Choosing to seek medical care is a voluntary decision. You have choices at every step and the process will be explained to you by a medical professional. You have the right to be informed, to ask questions and to make your own choices regardless of what anyone may suggest or recommend.
Support services are available on a confidential and voluntary basis. You may wish to meet with a counselor on a regular basis or as-needed. You may discontinue at any point without concern regarding your right to privacy. Confidentiality will be respected. Private therapists or local agencies are viable choices as well.
If you do not feel a need for counseling services at this time, your wishes will be respected. Be aware that it is not unusual for victims of sexual assault to experience delayed reactions. These may include:
- "flashbacks" or intrusive thoughts about the incident
- disturbing dreams and/or disrupted sleep patterns
- difficulty forming close, intimate relationships or changes in feelings towards long-term partners, especially related to sexual intimacy
- difficulty concentrating
- increased anxiety or panic attacks; fear about personal safety
- concerns about possible health problems, particularly related to HIV
- increased stress with associated physical symptoms
- feelings of depression, anger, and/or guilt
It is possible that you will work through your experience on your own or with the help of close, supportive friends and family members. Even though you may have a strong personal support system, it may be helpful to meet with a trained professional in a confidential setting to explore your feelings and concerns and to discuss healthy ways of coping.
If you are experiencing difficulty at any time, please do not hesitate to ask for help. It is never too late to address the issue of sexual assault. Again, it is not unusual to experience delayed reactions anywhere from days to years after a sexual assault has occurred.
Counselors may be helpful in negotiating with faculty/staff if your academic program is being affected. This will happen only if you request this assistance. Other options, such as a leave of absence, may be facilitated if this is your decision.
Your residence hall director (RHD) may be useful in helping you through the campus judicial system. In addition, if desired, the RHD can move you to another room on campus, either temporarily or permanently, to limit contact with the accused. Assistance is also available to make alternate arrangements, such as reassignment to another classroom, if needed.
Rape and sexual assault constitute crimes and are prohibited by Federal and New York State Law and University Policy. You are encouraged to report all incidents to the University Police Office. If the assault occurred on campus, you have three options:
- ARREST/CRIMINAL PROSECUTION: The suspect will be arrested and the case will be prosecuted in criminal court by the District Attorney's Office. You may be required to testify at trial time. Once charges are initiated and the suspect has been arrested, charges cannot be dropped without the consent of the District Attorney's Office. The suspect may be fined or jailed as a result of this action.
- CAMPUS JUDICIARY: The suspect is not arrested, but will be referred to the Student Conduct Office which will investigate the case for possible action by the College. You may be called to provide information to an administrator or to the Judicial Review Board. This option is not available if the suspect is not a student at SUNY Cortland.
- NO ACTION DESIRED: If you do not file a legal complaint, University Police will not take action. Your report will be kept on file, as it may be helpful in other investigations.
If the assault occurred off campus, the incident should be reported to the local or State Police or the Sheriff's Office. Efforts will be made to ensure the confidentiality of all reports, except as necessary and required to investigate the offense.
CAMPUS JUDICIAL PROCESS
You have the choice to file a complaint through the Student Conduct Office. On campus, this can be done regardless of whether you filed a criminal charge with the City Police Department or any other law enforcement agency. If you wish to proceed judicially, you would first fill out an incident report outlining what happened. The student being charged in the situation would be brought into the office, questioned, and asked to write a report about what happened. At that point, a decision would be made to determine if the student would be suspended on an interim basis from the College pending the outcome of the hearing, suspended from all residence halls and only allowed in buildings on campus for the purpose of taking classes pending the outcome of the hearing, or be allowed to remain on campus pending the outcome of a hearing. If it is clear that this individual poses a threat to you or anyone on campus, the latter would not apply.
A judicial hearing will take place on campus within a reasonable amount of time. Because the College values the dignity of each member of its community, the College wants to ensure the individual rights of anyone from this community who reports sexual assault or rape. Therefore, the College endorses and upholds victims' rights as related to sexual assault and rape.
A complete list of these rights can be found in the Student Code of Conduct.
Most important, above all else, is choosing what is best for you. To make the best and most informed choices, it is important that you have as much information as is available and that you clearly understand your options and what each means to you.
Counseling Center, B-44 Van Hoesen Hall, 753-4728
Emergency Squad, A-23 Van Hoesen Hall, 753-4111
Student Conduct, 409-B Corey Union, 753-4725
University Police, C-17 Van Hoesen Hall, 753-2111
Residential Services, B-33 Van Hoesen Hall, 753-4724
Student Health Services, B-26 Van Hoesen Hall, 753-4811
CAAR (Cortland Against Another Rape), Advisor, B-1 Van Hoesen Hall, 753-2066
Aid to Victims of Violence, 14 Clayton Avenue, 756-6363
Cortland Regional Medical Center, 134 Homer Avenue, 756-3500
Cortland City Police (911), 25 Court Street, 756-2811
Jacobus Center for Reproductive Health, 60 Central Avenue, 753-5027