H.A.R.T Healthy Advocacy Response Team
Definition: Sexual assault occurs when one person is forced or coerced into participating in a sexual act to which he or she has not freely consented.
Legal Definition: Consent shall be defined to mean positive cooperation in an act, or an attitude pursuant to an exercise of free will. The person must act freely and voluntarily and have knowledge of the nature of the act or transaction involved.
Note: Sexual assault is never your fault. Consent is possible only when there is equal power. Giving in because of fear is not consent. Giving in or going along with someone to gain approval or to avoid being hurt is not consent.
Sexual Violence: What is it?
What is it?
Sexual violence is any kind of sexual contact against person’s will and without consent. Sexual violence can happen to anyone, regardless of their sex, gender, race, class, age, size appearance, and sexual orientation. They are violent crimes used to exert power, humiliate, and control. Some commonly heard terms that fall under the umbrella of sexual violence include:
- Sexual harassment: Sexual harassment is the any unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favor or other unwelcome verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment includes but is not limited to situations where one person has authority over another. Sexual harassment can be verbal, visual, physical or communicated in writing or electronically.
- Sexual Abuse: Any action performed by a person in order to feel sexually stimulated without the other person’s consent, such as watching, touching, or sexually assaulting the victim, or speaking to the victim in a sexual nature.
What to do if you have been sexually assaulted
If you need immediate medical care or are in danger, please call 818 947-2911 if you are on campus or 911 if you are off campus.
- Get to a safe place if possible.
- Call someone who can help: a friend, the police, or campus or community agencies (see resource list).
- Do not shower, drink, eat, brush your teeth, or change your clothes. These activities can destroy physical evidence that could be useful if you decide to prosecute. However, if you have already done so (which is a perfectly normal response), you should still seek medical care. These activities do not necessarily prevent the collection of evidence.
- Get medical attention.
- Write down everything that you remember happening with as much detail as possible. This can help you to cope with the situation, but may also be helpful in any legal action you might decide to take.
Common Reactions to Sexual Assault
- Distrust in self or in others
- Shock, numbness, disbelief, denial
- Depression and/or suicidal feelings
- Intense fear, anxiety, nervousness, panic
- Intimacy or relationship issues
- Self-blame, guilt, shame, embarrassment
It is common for a person who has experienced a traumatic event to have a range of feelings and reactions. The trauma can have a profound impact on a survivor initially following the assault as well as years later.
Support of Friends
Here are some suggestions of ways you can help a friend who has been sexually assaulted
- Listen and be supportive. Let her know you care about her, that you believe her, and that she is not alone.
- Give your friend a chance to talk about the experience and her or his feelings.
- Be interested and empathic without prying or pressing for details.
- Try not to criticize or judge.
- Respect her decisions about what she wants: who to tell, whether or not to report to the police, what makes her feel safe, etc.
- If you are a man, be aware that her reaction to you may be complicated; she may want affection, or she may have generalized fears of all men
- Try not to express your own feelings of anger or helplessness to her, or to project them onto her. Talk about these feelings with another friend or professional counselor.
College Judicial Procedures for Sexual Assault
Sexual assaults allegedly committed by a Los Angeles Valley College student can be reported and adjudicated by the College student judicial system. However, in cases of a concurrent criminal prosecution, the College defers to the criminal case. During a College on-campus disciplinary case, the accuser and the accused are entitled to the same opportunities to have others present during the disciplinary hearing. Both parties are informed of the outcome of any disciplinary proceeding. Sanctions arising out of a campus disciplinary proceeding alleging a rape (including acquaintance rape) or other sex offense (forcible or nonforcible) include but are not limited to suspension or expulsion from the college.
Sexual assaults allegedly committed by a Los Angeles Valley College employee can be reviewed under the College’s Human Resources disciplinary policies. However, in cases of a concurrent criminal prosecution, the college reserves the option to initiate a separate disciplinary investigation. Although the criminal case will lead to a conclusion, disciplinary action may be taken to protect the college community regardless of that outcome. Sanctions arising out of an employee disciplinary proceeding alleging a rape (including acquaintance rape) or other sex offense (forcible or nonforcible) include but are not limited to termination of employment.