If you, or someone you know, has been affected by sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence or stalking:
Get to a safe place.
Your safety is the HIGHEST priority. Get away from the assailant quickly. Call 9-1-1 or the University’s Department of Public Safety at (251) 510-4273.
Know that what happened was not your fault.
You are not responsible for the actions of others. No one deserves to be sexually assaulted. No one deserves to be stalked. No one has the right to hurt you or touch you against your will or without consent. It is not your fault.
Reach out for support.
Call a friend, family member, or someone else you trust who can be with you and give you support. You can also call the university’s Counseling Services at (251)442-2292 to help you work through this experience and help you begin the healing process.
Seek medical care.
You have the right, and are encouraged, to seek medical care and assistance. After a physical or sexual assault, you may not know whether or not you have sustained any injuries. A healthcare provider can provide overall care; treat any injuries that may have occurred during the assault; provide emergency contraception; and/or offer preventive treatment for sexual transmitted infections (STIs).
Preserve any evidence.
Evidence of sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, or stalking should be preserved as soon as possible, even if you are unsure about reporting to the university or filing criminal charges. Preservation of evidence is essential for both law enforcement and campus disciplinary investigations.
Write down, or have a friend write down, everything you can remember about the incident, including a physical description of the assailant. You should attempt to do this even if you are unsure about reporting the incident in the future.
If you choose to report the assault and pursue legal options, a prompt forensic examination can be crucial.
Steps to Preserve Forensic Evidence
- Avoid drinking, bathing, showering, brushing your teeth, using mouthwash, or combing your hair.
- Do not change clothes. If you have already changed your clothes, place your clothing and other items (sheets, blankets) in a brown paper bag (a plastic bag may destroy evidence).
- Go to a hospital emergency department, Mobile Infirmary or USA Women’s and Children’s Hospital, which has the capability to provide a Sexual Assault Forensic Exam (SAFE or “rape kit”) and medical care for victims of sexual assault and intimate partner violence. A Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE), a healthcare provider trained to provide comprehensive care for a victim, can collect forensic evidence.
- A SAFE can only be completed within 5 days of the assault. You have the right to refuse the entire exam or any part of it at any time. You may also decide to complete a forensic exam anonymously.
- By law, evidence collection expenses are covered at no cost to you, However the hospital has to contact local law enforcement.
- If you suspect that you are the victim of a drug-facilitated sexual assault, ask the hospital or clinic where you receive medical care to take a urine sample. Drugs, such as Rohypnol and GHB, are more likely to be detected in urine than in blood. Rohypnol stays in the body for several hours, and can be detected in the urine up to 72 hours after taking it. GHB leaves the body in 12 hours.
Consider bringing someone to the hospital with you for support.
- The hospital automatically calls a police officer and an advocate to be available any time someone comes in for a SAFE. You can decide whether or not you want to speak with the advocate. The advocate is a confidential resource who is not affiliated with the university. They can provide you with confidential support and talk with you about your options.
Physical evidence should be preserved even if you choose not to go to the hospital for a forensic exam. Save all of the clothing you were wearing at the time of the assault. Put each item in a separate paper bag (do not use plastic bags). Save all bedding (blankets, sheets) and put each in a separate paper bag. Take photographs of any visible physical injuries (bruising, scratches) for use as evidence. If you report to law enforcement, they may want to take their own photos as evidence.
Evidence such as texts, emails, Facebook posts, chats, pictures, videos or other forms of electronic communication can be helpful in a college or criminal investigation. Download, save to a .pdf, take screen shots, or use other methods to preserve electronic evidence.
Report the incident.
You may choose to report the incident to the Prichard Police Department and/or to the university’s Department of Public Safety. Residential Life or Campus Operations can also receive a report.
If you are unsure as to whether or not you want to report the incident, you can talk with a university counselor or the Lieutenant with the Department of Public Safety about ‘hypotheticals’ to find out more information. If you under 21 and were under the influence of alcohol or other drugs at the time of the assault you will NOT be charged for using by Prichard Police Department or the University of Mobile. Sexual assault is a crime in all 50 states. Whether or not you were under the influence of alcohol or other drugs at the time of the incident, does NOT make it your fault. No one has the right to touch you without your consent.
Access support services and resources at any time.
Regardless of when or where the incident occurred, resources on- and off-campus are available to support you at any time, now and in the future.
Healing takes time.
People can and do recover. Give yourself as much time as you need. Talking with supportive people may help you regain a feeling of control and help you feel less alone.
Self-care can be an important component of one’s healing. Adequate sleep, nutrition, and emotional self-care can help ensure your body and mind are able to participate fully in the healing process.