What is Sexual Assault?
Sexual assault is an umbrella term used to describe a wide range of forced and unwanted sexual activity including kissing, exhibitionism, groping, and rape. Victims might be coerced into sexual acts through verbal or non-verbal threats or through the use of substances, such as alcohol or drugs. Sexual assault doesn’t always involve physical contact – acts such as voyeurism and exhibitionism can still count as unwanted sexual attention.
Delta State University expects that all members of the University community – students, faculty, and staff – should be able to pursue their work and education in a safe environment, free from sex/gender-based misconduct. To this end, the University is committed to maintaining a learning and working environment free of sexual misconduct. The term sexual misconduct includes, but is not limited to, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, sexual intimidation, sexual harassment, stalking, dating violence, and domestic violence. The University aims to prevent sexual misconduct through education, training, clear policies, and serious consequences for violators.
The University believes in zero tolerance for sex/gender-based misconduct. Zero tolerance means that when an allegation of misconduct is brought to an appropriate administrator’s attention, protective and other remedial measures will be used to ensure, within reason, that such conduct ends, is not repeated, and the effects on the victim and community are remedied. Both women and men should know that the University is committed to providing a consistent, timely and caring response to anyone who is the victim of sexual misconduct within the campus community.
Consent is defined as a clear and unmistakable agreement expressed in mutually understandable words or actions to engage in a particular activity. Consent can be withdrawn by either party at any point. Consent must be voluntarily given and may not be valid if a person is being subjected to actions or behaviors that elicit emotional or psychological pressure, intimidation, or fear. Consent to engage in one sexual activity or past agreement to engage in a particular sexual activity cannot be presumed to constitute consent to engage in a different sexual activity or to engage again in a sexual activity. Consent cannot be validly given by a person who is under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
Reporting Assault and Getting Help
First, are you physically safe and OK? If not, call 911 for an ambulance or notify someone you truest to come to your location. If you live on campus, you can call the DSU Campus Police at (662) 846-4155; Ms. Deidra Byas, the Title IX Coordinator at (662) 846-4690; or Ms. Rochelle Owsley, the Director for Student Development at (662) 846-4667. They can notify the counselors at Delta State’s Counseling Center of your needs, as well as contact any emergency services for you.
If you are safe, talking with the counselor is confidential should you wish to discuss your options. The Campus Counseling Center is located in the O. W. Reily Student Health Center form 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Their phone number is (662) 846-4690. If you live in the city, the Cleveland Police Department can be contacted at (662) 843-3611 or the Bolivar County Sheriff’s Office at (662) 843-5378. The National Abuse Hotline is a 24-hour support system. Their contact is 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).
College provides an environment for many students to explore intimate relationships with casual partners or serious relationships. In the confines of these relationships, however, inexperienced partners may not have the tools and experience needed to identify troubling behaviors. The earliest expressions of abuse aren’t always physical. Controlling habits can begin with manipulative comments or angry outbursts either in-person or over phone, text or social media.
It is extremely important for young adults to be able to recognize warning signs of a problematic relationship, before an abusive situation escalates. The most common indicators of high-risk emotional or physical abuse are below:
- Tone: Seemingly harmless statements can transform into threats or insults if your partner uses a disparaging or aggressive tone.
- Language choice: A partner blames you for things or uses coarse language, such as swear words, while speaking to you.
- Jealousy: Your partner seems suspicious of your interactions with other people. Your partner attempts to control your interactions, isolate you, or monitor your communications with others.
- Controlling statements: Your partner issues commands or often says you “must” or “have to” do something.
- Pejorative language: Your partner addresses or describes you with insulting names or adjectives, such as “stupid” or “idiotic.”
- Threats: Your partner attempts to control you with “or else” statements or negative consequences if you don’t comply with their wishes. Your partner might threaten you with physical, emotional, or verbal abuse.
- Violence: Your partner uses unwanted and forceful contact. This can include anything from wrist grabs to strikes against your body.
- Threatening body language: Your partner uses forceful movements, such as lunging toward you, glaring at you, or aggressively invading your personal space.
- Damaging property: Your partner has lost their temper and damaged items around the house, such as smashing dishes.
- Violence during sex: Your partner is extremely forceful or even violent during sex.
- Know your alcohol limits: Over half of sexual assaults committed against college students involve alcohol (https://www.collegedrinkingprevention.gov/supportingresearch/journal/journalstudiesalcohol.aspx), according to researchers at Wayne State University. Intoxication can make you significantly more vulnerable to assaults by impairing your judgment or inhibiting your physical ability to fight off an attacker. Binge drinkers are at a particularly high-risk of suffering incapacitation, blackout or unconsciousness.
- Watch your drinks: Take your drink to the restroom with you. Never drink a beverage that has been given to you by someone else or taken from a communal alcohol source (like a punch bowl).
- Trust your gut: If you get a bad feeling about a location or a person, leave immediately. We often subconsciously process body language and other danger indicators without realizing it. If something feels very wrong or you feel pursued, head in the direction of the nearest crowd, lighted area or building. Start talking loudly on your phone. Many attackers are unwilling to pursue victims who are aggressive or loud, which draws attention to the crime.
- Stick with your friends: Attend social gatherings with a group of friends that you trust. Look out for each other and help each other arrive home safely. If you do go out alone, always tell someone where you are going and avoid walking in unlit or un-trafficked parts of town or campus.
If you’ve identified that your partner exhibits the controlling or aggressive behaviors listed above and you are too afraid to bring these issues up safely within your relationship, it’s time to get help. Victims often realize the dangers of their situation after it’s too late; the dynamic between the abuser and abused is strategically created to discourage the victims to acknowledge or address the problem.
Intimate partner abuse and violence is never okay. It is more common than you may think and it is wholly within your power and your rights to get out safely.
- Contact a campus counselor or a support hotline: If you’re unsure how to get away from an abusive partner, contact the Campus Counseling Center located in the O. W. Reily Student Health Center. Their phone number is (662) 846-4690. You can also contact a support hotline for assistance. Love Is Respect (http://www.loveisrespect.org/for-yourself/contact-us/) and the National Domestic Abuse Hotline (http://www.thehotline.org/) both provide 24/7 phone assistance.
- Try not to blame yourself: Self-blame is extremely common in abusive relationships. It can be easy to feel trapped in your situation. However, your partner’s abusive actions are absolutely not your fault or a sign of weakness on your part. Keep this in mind as you seek help.
- List safe places: Know where you can go in case you need to get away from an abusive partner. This might include the Campus Counseling Center, a trusted friends’ dorm room, a survivors’ shelter, or a residence hall staff office.
- Document hostile communications: It can be emotionally painful to save threatening messages that your partner sends. However, voice messages, emails, IMs, and other hostile communications can be immensely useful to demonstrate a history of assault when you speak with counselors or authorities.
- Get counseling: The Campus Counseling Center is located in the O. W. Reily Student Health Center. Their phone number is (662) 846-4690. On-site counselors are trained to help with relationship assault and domestic violence. Deidra Byas, the Title IX Coordinator (662) 846-4690, or Mr. Michael Lipford, the Director for Student Development at (662) 846-4667 can also assist you with seeking counseling services.
- Call the police: If you are being threatened with assault, attempt to reach a safe place and call the police immediately. The contact for the DSU Police Department is (662) 846-4155. The contact for the Cleveland Police Department is (662) 843-3611.
- Help the victim reach a safe location away from the assailant. Make the victim feel as safe and listened to as possible.
- Many victims blame themselves for an attack. Inform the victim that the sexual assault was not their fault.
- Be a supportive listener. Thank the victim for telling you about this. Avoid phrases that evoke powerlessness at first, including “I’m sorry.”
- If you saw the attacker or witnessed any part of the assault, take detailed notes regarding the incident.
- Encourage the victim to contact the University Police Department, The Title IX Coordinator, the Director of Student Development, or the University Health Center.
- Accompany the victim to the hospital and ensure they meet with medical professionals who specialize in sexual assault trauma.
- Follow up with the victim. Encourage participation in counseling sessions and support groups.
|DSU Campus Police||(662) 846-4155|
|Title IX Coordinator||(662) 846-4690|
|Director of Student Development||(662) 846-4667|
|O.W. Reily Student Health Center||(662) 846-4690|
|Cleveland Police Department||(662) 843-3611|
|Bolivar County Sheriff’s Office||(662) 843-5378|
|National Abuse Hotline||1-800-656-4673|