SHAW Hours Adjustment (5/21)
The Student Health and Wellness Center will be closed on Tuesday, May 21 from 8 am - 11:30 am for staff inservice. Operating hours will resume again at 11:30 am.
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Survivor Support & Victim Advocacy Services provides free, confidential advocacy and support to UWM student victim/survivors of sexual assault, sexual harassment, dating violence, domestic violence and/or stalking.

A victim/survivor may benefit from having an advocate support them as they navigate their experience and healing journey. An advocate can provide support, resources, accompaniment, as well as legal, medical, housing, and academic advocacy.  

Sexual Assault

If you have been assaulted by someone – no matter who – it was not your fault.

What can I do if I am sexually assaulted?

There is no universal reaction to being assaulted. How you respond after an assault is a completely personal choice. Here are some options:  

  • Go to a safe place as soon as you are able
  • Seek help for necessary medical needs
  • Connect with a trusted person – family, friend, advocate, counselor
  • Report the assault to UWM Police (414-229-9911) and/or Milwaukee Police (911)
  • Get connected with a UWM confidential victim advocate to help you understand and navigate your options (414-229-4582)

Sexual Violence Information

Medical Information & Services for Sexual Assault Victim/Survivors

What Is a Medical Forensic Exam?

A Medical Forensic Exam is a process in which a trained nurse treats and gathers physical evidence from a victim/survivor following an assault. This can include checking for and documenting injuries, collecting DNA, recording the victim/survivors account of the assault, and providing any needed testing or medications. The victim/survivor chooses which parts of the exam they want to do. They can stop the exam at any time 

  • Evidence can be collected up to 120 hours following an assault  
  • Victim/survivors that choose to receive a medical forensic exam are NOT required to report to police. Evidence can be recorded and stored anonymously. 
  • All medical forensic exams are performed by a trained Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner 

Where can I go for a medical forensic exam?

  • Aurora-Sinai Medical Center 
    945 N 12th St. 
    Milwaukee, WI 53233 
    414-219-5555 
  • Aurora West Allis Medical Center 
    8901 W Lincoln Ave. 
    West Allis, WI 53227 
    414-328-6000 

What should I know before going to the hospital for an exam?

  • If able, bring the clothes (including underwear) that were worn during the assault as well as clean clothes to change into
  • Try not to bathe, brush teeth, or use mouthwash before the exam
  • Wait to urinate until the nurse can collect a sample (especially if it is the first urination after the assault). Or bring a sample to the exam.
  • Bring any feminine products (tampon or maxi pad) worn during the assault
  • The examination can include DNA collection, photos of any bodily injury, STI assessment/prevention, and pregnancy testing
  • Request an advocate to accompany you during the exam process through Aurora’s Sexual Assault Treatment Center: 414-219-5555

What medical resources are available on campus?

  • Student Health and Wellness Center, 2025 E. Newport Ave, 7th Floor, 414-229-7429
    • Testing for STIs
    • Pregnancy testing and information
    • Confidential discussion of other related health concerns
    • The Student Health and Wellness Center does NOT provide Medical Forensic Exams, but they can provide referrals.
Sexual Assault Overview

What is Sexual Assault?

Any type of sexual contact or behavior which is unwanted by the recipient and takes place without explicit and freely given consent and understanding. Sexual assault can include manipulation, physical force, or coercion. Sexual assault is about power, control, and entitlement, it is not about sex, attraction, rejection, jealousy, etc. Some examples of this behavior include: 

  • Penetration or attempted penetration of any orifice  
  • Unwanted sexual touching with hands or other body parts 
  • Unwanted sexual advances or requests for sexual favors that, if rejected, would have direct consequences on your safety, work, school, and/or social status 
  • Forcing someone else to perform sexual acts of any kind

Important Facts About Sexual Assault

  • Sexual violence does not discriminate. It affects people of all genders, ethnicities, ability, economic level, and background. All people can experience sexual violence, however, people who are apart of marginalized identities experience rates of sexual violence at a much higher rate.  
  • Most sexual assaults occur by someone you know.  
  • Sexual assault can be committed by an intimate partner or spouse. Consent is always required regardless of your relationship status.  
  • Reporting an assault to law enforcement is a very personal decision. It is important that you make the decision that is right for you and your healing journey. 
  • Most sexual assaults are not reported to the police and of those, many are not prosecuted.  
  • False rape accusations are very uncommon 
  • Sexual violence is a community issue 
Sexual Assault and Alcohol or Other Drugs

What is Alcohol & Drug-Facilitated Sexual Assault?

Involves using alcohol or other drugs to compromise an individual’s ability to consent to sexual activity. Sometimes these substances are taken willingly, and other times people don’t know they are ingesting them. The use of substances can reduce someone’s ability to react to the situation and affect their memory of what happened.  

Engaging in the use of alcohol or other drugs is not the same as consenting to sexual relations. If you were drinking or doing drugs, and experienced sexual assault, you can still reach out for help. You did not consent to being harmed.  

For more information on commonly used substances, how to know if you have been drugged, and options if you think you were drugged, visit the RAINN Drug-Facilitated Sexual Assault page.

Common Reactions and Responses to Sexual Assault

What are Common Reactions During Sexual Assault?

  • During a sexual assault, the brain automatically and involuntarily triggers a response as part of its defense mechanisms to keep you safe. This response can look different from person to person, but no matter what your response, you did what was best for you in the moment.  
  • Freezing is a response which can be characterized by immobility or inhibition of behavior. This can be full body or can be experienced in specific areas of the body. It can affect physical movement and/or verbalization.  
  • Fawning is a response in which a person may appear to be willing and cooperative before, during or after the event for their safety. 
  • Fleeing is a response in which a person leaves or attempts to leave the situation. 
  • Fighting is a response in which a person tries to escape the situation using some type of physical force. 
  • Your response may vary or may include different variations of freeze, fawn, flee, or fight. Survivors can sometimes experience guilt, shame, or embarrassment because they were not able to get away, say no, or fight. Your body is trained to respond the best way it can to keep you safe and sometimes fighting or trying to flee is not your safest option. You did all you could do! 
  • There is no one way to react to a sexual assault. No matter your response, you did what was best for you in the moment. The following are some of the emotional and physical responses victim/survivors have after being assaulted.

What are Common Reactions After Sexual Assault?

Shock, Disbelief, Numbness, Denial  
  • Feeling numb is often the body’s automatic response to a traumatic experience. It is one way the body tries to protect you from the impact of trauma. You can feel emotionally drained or detached or like your body is shutting down or withdrawing. 
  • You may find yourself trying to rationalize what happened or feeling disbelief. Sexual assault is not a ‘normal’ life experience, and no one ever expects it to happen. You may tell yourself that it was in your head, no big deal, or completely imagined. 
Dissociation
  • You may have the feeling of being completely outside your body. Some survivors describe the sensation as though they are watching themselves from the outside. It is another way the body tries to protect you from the impact of trauma 
Shame, Embarrassment
  • Myths and social norms surrounding sex and sexuality often perpetuate messages that blame survivors and promote the idea that they could have avoided their situation. While this is not true, societal, cultural, and religious norms can leave survivors feeling shame and embarrassment over what happened.  
  • Many survivors know their perpetrator and it can feel easier to blame oneself than to believe that someone you know and trusted was capable of hurting you.  
Anger, Frustration, Lacking Control
  • You may feel anger and frustration at the perpetrator, at the world, or at yourself.  
  • Sexual assault involves someone taking power and control over your body and this can lead to a feeling of loss of control over your body or life.   
Flashbacks
  • You may experience moments where you re-live parts or all of the assault which are referred to as flashbacks. Flashbacks can be triggered by things like sounds, smells, words, colors, images, certain people, gestures, or bodily sensations.  
  • You may feel preoccupied with thoughts about the assault even though you don’t want to think about it.  
Anxious, Jumpy
  • You may experience ‘hyper-arousal’ or feeling constantly on-edge as though something could happen at any moment. 
  • You may have trouble calming down, have a racing heartbeat, difficulty sleeping, or an inability to sit still. 
Isolated, Depressed
Physically Ill
  • You may feel nauseated or experience gastrointestinal problems. 
  • You may get reoccurring colds/flu. 
  • You may experience muscle aches or headaches 
  • You may see a change in your appetite, sleep habits, or ability to concentrate. 

You can experience a combination of these responses, or you can move in and out of them. It can feel very overwhelming and isolating. If you would like to talk to someone about how you are feeling you can reach out to Student Health and Wellness Center Counseling Services, the Survivor Support and Victim Advocate or for 24hr help you can reach out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline Get-Help page. We are here for you!  

Advocacy Services

Advocates

Advocates provide emotional support, as well as legal, medical, and academic advocacy. They help survivors understand and navigate their different options by providing:

Accompaniment to, and explanation of
  • Medical Appointments
  • Law Enforcement Interviews
  • Criminal Court Proceedings
  • Civil Court Proceedings
  • Title IX Proceedings
  • Probation and Parole Proceedings
Assistance with requesting adjustments related to
  • Academics
  • Housing
  • Transportation
  • On Campus Work
  • Financial Aid
Assistance in filling out paperwork related to
  • Restraining Orders
  • Crime Victim Compensation
  • Restitution
  • Victim Impact Statements
Referrals to other resources on campus and in the community
  • Counseling
  • Support Groups
  • Advocacy Services
  • Legal Assistance
Assistance in developing a safety plan for
  • On campus
  • At home
  • At work
  • Travel

Survivor Resources on Campus

Confidential Support

  • UWM Victim/Survivor Advocate: 414-229-4582 or victimadvocacy@uwm.edu
  • UWM Student Health and Wellness Center – 7th & 8th Floor NWQ-D
    • Counseling (8th Floor)
      • Business hours: 414-229-7429
      • After-hours non-emergency: 414-229-4627
    • Medical (7th Floor)
      • Business hours: 414-229-7429
      • Medical services including STI and pregnancy testing
  • UWM Title IX Office: Title IX-Sexual Violence Reporting and Resources

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is an umbrella term which encompasses all forms of abuse that happen between people who are related to one another by blood or adoption, people who currently live together or previously lived together, people who are in or were in a dating or marital relationship, people who have a child in common, or a caregiver who provides in-home or community care to the survivor. Domestic violence refers to a pattern of behaviors which are aimed at maintaining power and control over another person.  

Forms of Domestic Violence

There are many different forms of abuse tactics which are aimed at maintaining power and control over another. Some forms of abuse include: 

  • Physical Abuse- Intentional infliction of physical pain, physical injury, illness, or impairment of the physical condition. Examples include striking, strangling, suffocating, and throwing things to injure another. 
  • Emotional Abuse- Using insults, humiliation, and comments or acts which instill fear in an individual in order to control them. Examples include using intimidation, isolation, threats, insults, minimizing and blaming. 
  • Sexual Abuse- Is sexual contact or sexual intercourse without consent. This includes using behaviors which pressure or coerce someone to do something sexually they do not want to do.  
  • Financial Abuse- Using money to control another person. Examples include withholding money, controlling household money, restricting access to money, forcing someone to work or not allowing someone to work.  
  • Digital Abuse- Using technology to bully, harass, stalk, or intimidate a partner. Examples include sending messages which harass/bully/intimidate, using fake accounts to reach someone who has blocked you, using apps to locate and follow someone, and sending threatening messages.  
  • Stalking- Intentionally keeping tabs on someone by watching them, following them, harassing them, and making them feel afraid or unsafe. This can be physical stalking or stalking using technology.  

If you are concerned that your relationship exhibits some unhealthy signs of power and control or if you are experiencing abuse, reach out to the Survivor Support & Victim Advocate for more information or the National Domestic Violence Hotline Get-Help page. 

Safety Planning

Safety planning is an important tool while you are experiencing abuse, when preparing to leave an abusive situation, and after you leave one. Leaving an abusive situation can be the most dangerous time, having a safety plan can help decrease the likelihood that you will be put in danger. The Survivor Support & Victim Advocate can help you develop a safety plan, or you can visit The National Domestic Violence Hotline Create Your Personal Safety Plan page for more information.  

Invisible Injuries 

Situations which involve physical abuse can put a person at high risk for injury, illness, or death. While there are some injuries we know we must respond to, you do not have to have visible signs of damage to your body for you to have sustained a serious injury.  

Head injuries can occur when you receive jolts, bumps, or blows to your head, or when your brain does not get the oxygen and blood it needs. Getting hit on the head, falling, being shaken severely, being choked or having something done to you which causes lack of consciousness or trouble breathing can all cause an injury to your brain. For more information on how your brain can be affected visit the Ohio Domestic Violence Network Brain Injury For Survivors page.  

Strangulation, more commonly referred to as choking, can result in serious injury in a matter of seconds, death within minutes, and even delayed fatality days or weeks after the attack. Delayed fatality can happen even when there are no signs of physical injury. For more information on strangulation visit the Training Institute on Strangulation Prevention Survivor Resources page.  

Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, and Human Trafficking Resources

Sexual Violence  

Hospitals 

  • Aurora Sinai, 945 N. 12th St., Milwaukee, WI 414-219-5938
  • Aurora West Allis Medical Center, 8901 W. Lincoln Ave., West Allis, WI 414-219-5938
  • Aurora Medical Center 1032 E. Sumner St., Hartford, WI 262-670-7201 

24-Hour Hotlines 

For More Information 

Domestic Violence 

24-Hour Crisis Help Lines 

  • National Domestic Violence Hotline 800-799-7233
  • Milwaukee: Domestic Violence Hotline Sojourner Family Peace Center 414-933-2722
  • Waukesha County: The Women’s Center 262-542-3828
  • Washington County: Friends, INC 262-334-7298  
  • Parent Helpline: 414-671-0566 

For More Information 

Human Trafficking  

For More Information

Culturally-Specific Resources