What can I do if I am sexually assaulted?
Go to a place where you are safe from further violation.
- Police Station
- Health Center / Counseling Center / Hospital Emergency Room
- Anywhere away from the perpetrator(s)
- Anywhere where other people can assist you
As always, you can contact a professional or someone you know who can help you (e.g. a friend, housemate, family member, or RA who you feel can be supportive). A trusted member of your place of worship, community, or extended family may also be a place for support.
There are also several hotlines and services available to you:
(UW) Milwaukee Police Department
911 off campus, or 9-911 from an on-campus phone – 24 hours/day
The Sexual Assault Treatment Center of Greater Milwaukee
(414) 219-5555 – 24 hours/day
Specializes in and offers safe & caring services to all survivors of sexual assault. They provide crisis help, medical and counseling services, medical and legal evidence collection, liaison services, and more. They are a local service provider.
The National Sexual Assault Hotline
(800) 656-HOPE – 24 hours /day
Offers free, confidential couseling. They are a national (not local) service provider, however, they can help connect you to local providers.
UWM Women’s Resource Center
(414) 229-2852 – Monday – Friday 9a-5p
Professional staff provide crisis counseling, information, referrals and on-going support to UWM students who have been assaulted and their friends and family. For students who want to talk about their experience and learn about their options for support and services at UWM and off campus in a non-judgmental setting, the WRC can be a good place to start. After hours, the WRC Director can be contacted for urgent student situations at (414) 238-4620.
UWM Norris Health Center
(414) 229-4716 – Monday – Thursday 8a-4:45p, Friday 9a-5pm
Norris staff provide medical and counseling services to UWM students during weekday business hours. If you are in crisis or have experienced a recent sexual assault, mention this to staff and they will prioritize you being able to meet with staff that day.
Remember it wasn’t your fault
You can consider taking legal action, if and when you feel up to it. Ensure that you preserve evidence of the attack, just in case you decide to take legal action. Don’t bathe, change clothes, or brush your teeth. Write down (or even better, have a friend write down) all the details you can recall about your experience, and of the perpetrator.
Get Medical Attention
You may have been physically injured. It is not unusual when someone experiences a trauma that they may not be fully aware of the physical injury they have sustained, so it can be important for you to be seen by a doctor or other medical practitioner to evaluate your physical health status.
Even with no physical injuries, it is important to determine the risks of STDs and pregnancy if the nature of your assault suggests it is possible that you were exposed to the possibility of pregnancy or infection. If seen promptly following a sexual assault, doctors can prescribe medications to prevent the development of many sexually transmitted diseases, and pregnancy.
For your health and well-being, prompt medical attention is recommended regardless of a decision to notify authorities of your experience. If you suspect you may have been drugged, ask that a urine sample be collected. If you go to a hospital other than the SATC, ask that they conduct a rape kit exam.
Remember it’s never too late to ask for help. Many victims/survivors call for help soon after an assault while many others seek help days, weeks, months, and even years later.
Healing from rape takes time. Give yourself the time you need in a safe and caring environment to begin the healing and recovery process.
Sexual Assault Treatment Center (SATC)
(414) 219-5555 – 24 hours/day
The Sexual Assault Treatment Center (SATC) of Greater Milwaukee can be called 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can also walk into one of their two locations at any time, 24-hours a day.
The Aurora Sinai Medical Center is located at 945 N. 12th St. in Milwaukee.
The West Allis Memorial Hospital Center is located at 8901 W. Lincoln Ave. in West Allis.
Staff in these facilities are prepared to respond to the physical and mental health needs of recent sexual assault survivors in a caring and respectful manner, and nurse examiners are specially trained to obtain physical evidence from the body of a survivor that could be used to assist with legal proceedings if the police are involved. Unless you are a minor, you can choose to receive services at SATC without the involvement of police.
If you think you’ve been drugged
Signs that you’ve been drugged include:
- You feel drunker than you usually would, given the amount of alcohol you drank.
- You wake up hung over, feeling “fuzzy”, and can’t remember all or part of last night.
- You remember having a drink but you can’t remember what happened after you finished it.
- You feel like someone had sex with you but you can’t remember any or all of the incident.
Sometimes perpetrators of sexual violence will use what are often referred to as “date rape drugs” to incapacitate their intended victim. The exact effects of these drugs on each person are difficult to predict because the effects vary depending upon the drug, the dose ingested, whether the drug is mixed with alcohol and/or other drugs, the weight, gender, and metabolism of the person who ingests it, and other factors, including how soon the victim receives medical assistance. The danger of serious and harmful effects is greatly increased when drugs like Rohypnol and GHB are consumed in combination with alcohol or other drugs.
Most date rape drugs leave the body within 24-72 hours, so it is important to get a drug test as soon as possible after the assault has occurred.
Understanding the Impact of Sexual Assault
Common Reactions to Sexual Assault
The psychological trauma caused by a sexual assault can be severe and long-lasting. The emotional consequences of rape continue well beyond when you are sexually violated. Because people react in very different ways, it is not possible to predict exactly how you will feel. The effects may be influenced by the severity of the assault, your existing coping skills, your past experiences, and the support you have after the assault. There is nothing right or wrong about whatever you are feeling and experiencing. And, it may be helpful for you to know some of the most common responses of sexual assault victims.
Shock and disbelief
“I feel numb.”
“I can’t believe this happened to me.”
Initially, most sexual assault victims react with shock and disbelief. You may feel numb and dazed, withdrawn and distant from other people. You may want to forget about what happened and avoid people or situations that remind you of the assault, or you might go to classes or work as though nothing happened.
Remembering details about what happened and what it felt like
“Sometimes, I can’t stop thinking about it.”
“For weeks, I couldn’t wash away his smell.”
“It comes back out of nowhere. I feel like it’s happening all over again.”
There may be periods when you are preoccupied with thoughts and feelings about the assault. You may have unwanted memories or flashbacks and nightmares. When you think about what happened, you may re-experience some of the sensations and feelings you had during the assault, such as fear and powerlessness.
Intense emotions and severe distress
“I feel very sad, like I lost a part of me.”
“I have this intense anger that I never felt before.”
Many survivors experience intense emotions in the aftermath of a sexual assault. You might feel confused, disoriented, angry, or full of rage. And, you may feel anxious or depressed. It is not unusual for survivors to feel like they are on an exhausting emotional roller coaster. A high percentage of those who have been sexually assaulted feel hopeless at some point during the aftermath of the trauma, and they contemplate or attempt suicide. If your intense feelings lead you to want to hurt yourself or someone else, it is important to tell someone about your experience, and to seek help from others. You did not ask to be hurt, and you deserve to be supported through your distress.
“Every night when I come home, I search my apartment. I look in the closets and under the bed to be sure no one is there.”
“I can’t go out alone at night because I am too scared.”
“I feel like I can’t trust anyone anymore.”
Fears about personal safety are an almost universal response to a sexual assault. Survivors often become fearful in situations and places where they were never frightened before. In many sexual assault situations, the victim feels powerless and/or terrified of being killed or seriously harmed. Afterwards, you may continue to feel frightened and vulnerable for a while. Survivors often find it difficult to trust and to be intimate with others. This is especially true if you are assaulted by someone you know.
Diminished self-esteem, self-blame and shame
“I felt like it was my fault.”
“I was angry at myself and hated my body.”
“I wondered if guys would think I was damaged.”
Feelings of guilt, shame, anger, humiliation, and powerlessness are also frequent reactions. Because of misconceptions about rape, victims may blame themselves, doubt their own judgment, or wonder if they were in some way responsible for the assault. Feelings of guilt and self-blame may be reinforced by the reactions of others, who, because of prevalent myths about rape, may blame the victim or criticize his or her behavior. You may also feel ashamed. Some victims describe feeling dirty, devalued, and humiliated as a result of a sexual assault. A victim’s attitude toward his/her body may be negatively affected. This change may lead to self-abuse (i.e. alcohol abuse, overeating, self-mutilation, etc.) Feelings of shame are sometimes a reaction to being forced by the assailant to participate in the crime.
“I couldn’t sleep through the night. I had trouble falling asleep and then I would wake up every night at the same time that the rape happened.”
Some victims have physical symptoms, such as sleep disturbances, headaches, nausea, and stomach
You may find that it is very difficult to concentrate on routine activities like reading for class or doing your homework. You may also experience changes in your sexuality, such as a loss of interest in sex or avoidance of sexual situations.
Each person is different….it takes time to feel better
“One minute I feel okay and I think I can deal with what happened, and then the next minute I feel overwhelmed and weak. Sometimes it seems like it will never go away.”
“It’s been 8 months since my rape. It’s still always there, but I don’t think about it every day anymore.”
Each person is unique. Although many victims experience similar reactions, there are still individual differences in how they respond to the trauma of rape. You may experience some or all of these symptoms. They may occur immediately, or you may have a delayed reaction weeks or months later. Certain situations, such as seeing the assailant or testifying in court, may intensify the symptoms or cause them to reoccur after a period during which you have been feeling better.
How can I help someone I care about who has been sexually assaulted?
The time immediately following a sexual assault is emotional, confusing, and extremely anxiety-filled for the victim and those who are close to her/him. Sexual assault is a frightening and degrading experience that requires time for victims to recover. In the immediate aftermath of a sexual assault, victims need gentleness and acceptance. Below are some recommendations for how you can positively affect her/his recovery. For more information and/or support, please call or visit the UWM Women’s Resource Center.
- Be there. Don’t be judgmental.
- Be patient. Remember, it will take your friend some time to deal with the crime. She/he will tell you what she/he is comfortable saying. Healing from such a horrible experience is often a long and/or sporadic process. The healing process is also different for everyone.
- If you feel you can’t be there for your friend? If you feel you aren’t the best one to help your friend, tell her/him. Turning away in shock, fear, or whatever other emotion without an explanation can leave your friend feeling confused and abandoned.
- Believe her/him. Don’t ask questions about their behavior, appearance, attitude, etc. –Only 2% of reported rape cases were not substantiated by evidence in 2000 in Wisconsin. A survivor usually does not tell many people about his/her assault, so believe and support your friend. Some questions can sound like you don’t believe her/her or like you think she/he deserved what happened (i.e. what were you wearing? Why didn’t you scream? Were you drinking? Why did you open the door? etc.)
- Reassure your friend that it was not their fault. Do not blame the victim.
- Let your friend make her/his own decisions. It is okay to offer suggestions, encourage the survivor to seek help, or provide her/him with information about support services on and off campus – but let the decisions be theirs. Assault leaves victims feeling powerless. It is important to respect what your friend indicates she/he needs to do to manage their stress.
Respect your friend’s privacy. Don’t betray her/his trust in you. If you are feeling overwhelmed, it is
- fine to seek support for yourself. Focus on your needs rather than on specifics of the assault situation, and only disclose the survivor’s experience to a chosen few and trusted mentors if you feel it is absolutely necessary. Remember you do not have to reveal your friend’s identity in order to get support for yourself. When someone is sexually assaulted, their personal and physical boundaries have been violated and they are likely to feel especially sensitive to other violations of their trust.
- Don’t go on a vigilante trust to avenge the assault. It is common to feel intense anger and/or a desire to seek revenge when you learn that someone you care about has been hurt. These feelings are normal and understandable. Yet this is a time when calm and reasoned judgments are most needed. Threatening or trying to contact the assailant is not desirable. It can create legal problems for you and cause the victim to fear for your safety. Your anger and threats of revenge shift attention away from the victim’s needs to your own. Your anger can cut off communication; your friend may feel unable to talk about the incident for fear she/he will upset you.
- Take care of yourself. Sexual assault is not only difficult for the victim, but also for friends, family, and partners who love and care for the person who has been hurt.
Why Men Should Care
“Every time a man’s voice joins those of women in speaking out against rape, the world becomes a safer place.”
- Men can rape.
- Men are raped.
- Men’s loved ones, family members, friends are raped.
- Rape confines men – It is impossible to distinguish men who are safe from the ones who are not. As a result, relationships become guarded and are sometimes approached with fear and mistrust.
- Men know survivors – Ignorance about rape can hinder the healing process while a supportive male presence during a survivor’s recovery can be invaluable.
- Men can stop rape – Rape is a choice some men make to use sex as a weapon of power and control. To stop rape, men who are violent must be empowered to make different choices. All men can play an important role by challenging rape-supporting attitudes and behaviors in the men around them.
MEN CAN STOP RAPE
PO Box 57144
What Men Can Do
Approach sexual assault as a Men’s issue. See yourself not only as a possible offender but also as an empowered bystander who can talk to his peers and change attitudes.
Speak Up! If a brother, friend, classmate or teammate is being disrespectful to a partner / date – using derogatory or degrading names, call him out on his behavior.
Be courageous. Look at your own attitudes. Think about how your actions may inadvertently hurt someone or perpetuate sexism. Work to change those attitudes and actions. Don’t have sex with anyone unless they say yes or give you an overt signal. When in doubt – ask.
Help survivors. If a friend has been the victim of sexual assault, including acquaintance rape, listen without judgment. Gently ask what you can do to help.
Think critically about advertisements, articles, movies etc. Don’t support products and places that perpetuate sexism or the sexual exploitation of children or adults.
Speak out against homophobia and gay bashing.
Understand cultural differences. Don’t stereotype people. Ask what you can do or if there is anyone else that you could help the survivor contact.
Mentor young boys. Most importantly, be a good role model for them, offering them alternatives to violence and controlling behaviors.
Organize or participate in your own group of men who are interested in stopping sexual assault on campus.
How to be a respectful sexual partner
- When someone says no, respect the decision not to move forward.
- Do not proceed with sexual conduct unless your partner says “yes” or indicates by some overt act that she/he is interested in proceeding.
- Understand that you may not know the history of the person with whom you are engaging in sexual behavior. The effect of your ignoring possible subtle or not so subtle signals may be more negative than you can comprehend.
- Know the sexual assault laws.
- Understand that consent means a “yes” or an overt action. Do not make assumptions. If you are unsure – ask. If you are too embarrassed to ask perhaps you are not mature enough to be participating in sexual behavior.
- Traditional-aged freshman women during the first few months of school are the most vulnerable population for campus rape.
- 1 out of 6 college women have been sexually assaulted or have been the victim of an attempted rape during the past year (1999)
- 10 – 20 % of all men have been sexually violated in their lives.
- 7 out of 10 rape or sexual assault victims know their attacker.
- Only 12% of undergraduate women whose experience fit the definition of rape, identified themselves as rape victims.
- 84% of men whose actions matched the legal definition of rape, said that they felt their actions were definitely not rape.
- In a study of gay and lesbian relationships, 52% of participants reported at least one incident of sexual assault/coercion.\
Wisconsin Sexual Assault Laws
(1) (intro.) First degree sexual assault. Whoever does any of the following is guilty of a Class B felony:
Has sexual contact or sexual intercourse with another person without consent of that person and causes pregnancy or great bodily harm to that person.
(b) Has sexual contact or sexual intercourse with another person without consent of that person by use or threat of use of a dangerous weapon or any article used or fashioned in a manner to lead the victim reasonably to believe it to be a dangerous weapon.
Is aided or abetted by one or more other persons and has sexual contact or sexual intercourse with another person without consent of that person by use or threat of force or violence.
(2) (intro.) Second degree sexual assault. Whoever does any of the following is guilty of a Class BC felony:
Has sexual contact or sexual intercourse with another person without consent of that person by use or threat of force or violence.
Has sexual contact or sexual intercourse with another person without consent of that person and causes injury, illness, disease or impairment of a sexual or reproductive organ, or mental anguish requiring psychiatric care for the victim.
Has sexual contact or sexual intercourse with a person who suffers from a mental illness or deficiency which renders that person temporarily or permanently incapable of appraising the person’s conduct, and the defendant knows of such condition.
Has sexual contact or sexual intercourse with a person who is under the influence of an intoxicant to a degree which renders that person incapable of appraising the person’s conduct, and the defendant knows of such condition.
Has sexual contact or sexual intercourse with a person who the defendant knows is unconscious.
Is aided or abetted by one or more other persons and has sexual contact or sexual intercourse with another person without the consent of that person.
Is an employee of a facility or program under s. 940.295 (2) (b), (c), (h) or (k) and has sexual contact or sexual intercourse with a person who is a patient or resident of the facility or program.
Third degree sexual assault. Whoever has sexual intercourse with a person without the consent of that person is guilty of a Class D felony. Whoever has sexual contact in the manner described in sub. (5) (b) 2. with a person without the consent of that person is guilty of a Class D felony.
(3m) Fourth degree sexual assault. Except as provided in sub. (3), whoever has sexual contact with a person without the consent of that person is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor?
(4) (intro.) Consent. “Consent”, as used in this section, means words or overt actions by a person who is competent to give informed consent indicating a freely given agreement to have sexual intercourse or sexual contact. Consent is not an issue in alleged violations of sub. (2) (c), (cm), (d) and (g). The following persons are presumed incapable of consent but the presumption may be rebutted by competent evidence, subject to the provisions of s. 972.11 (2)
A person suffering from a mental illness or defect which impairs capacity to appraise personal conduct.
A person who is unconscious or for any other reason is physically unable to communicate unwillingness to an act.
UWM Sexual Conduct Policies
The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee prohibits sexual assault, sexual harassment, and other sex offenses (forcible and non-forcible) on University property or in conjunction with University activities. Wisconsin statutes define these offenses, which are described in this section for informational purposes only. Learn more about the University’s policies.
SEXUAL HARASSMENT, as defined in s. 111.32(13) and by UWM’s sexual harassment policy, includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature where the two parties are of unequal power. Harassment between equals is also possible. Conduct which unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work or educational performance or which creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment for work or learning also constitutes sexual harassment. UWM policy prohibits all sexual harassment including consenting amorous or sexual relationships between an instructor and student or an employee and supervisor. The penalties for sexual harassment by a UWM employee may include any of the following: a fine, job suspension or termination, letters of reprimand or warning, or reassignment. Contact the Office of Equity/Diversity Services at 414-229-5923.
SEXUAL ASSAULT, including acquaintance rape, as described in ss.940.225 and 948.02, is any sexual contact or sexual intercourse with a person without the consent of that person. Consent means words or overt actions by a competent person indicating freely given agreement to the sexual contact or intercourse. Consent is not an issue when the person involved is less than 16 years of age, unconscious or unable to communicate, or is suffering from mental illness or defect. Acquaintance rape is sexual assault committed by someone the victim knows. Date rape is acquaintance rape. At least one-third of all reported rape victims knows their attacker. Sexual Assault is a criminal offense and the police are primarily responsible for enforcement and investigation.