Responding to Victims

Victims of sexual misconduct often share their situation with a faculty, staff, or other member of the College community who holds a supervisory role. The guidelines below will help you understand how to respond. Your response can be summarized in three words:  Care, Consider, and Contact.

Care: Be compassionate and professional

  • Encourage medical attention if appropriate (see menu link "Support for Victims")
  • Offer counseling services (see menu link "Support for Victims")
  • Inform victim of rights:
    • to file criminal charges (see menu link "Support for Victims")
    • to file a complaint with campus Title IX Coordinator (see menu link "Reporting Sexual Misconduct")
  •  

Consider:
 
Victims of sexual misconduct may

  • minimize the misconduct
  • respond during a traumatic event with fight, flight, or freezing
  • suffer from low self-esteem
  • find it difficult to trust others
  • exhibit a variety of emotions, ranging from anger to suicidal depression
  •  

Don't make negative judgments about a person's reliability based on these kinds of behaviors.

 Perpetrators of sexual harassment have no tell-tale warning signs.

Don't dismiss an accusation against someone based on your previous interactions with the accused.

Thanks to Jennifer Parnell, Northern Illinois University

What is sexual misconduct?

  • actions/words of a sexual nature that are
  • unwelcome  and
  •  hinder, deny or limit the victim's "ability to participate in or to receive benefits, services, or opportunities in the school's program." As a result, sexual misconduct
    •  may stem from an on-campus OR off-campus event
    • may be committed by or against a person of any gender or sexual orientation
    • may be committed by a person who is not a member of the RC community

What does "unwelcome" really mean? 

  • "Unwelcome" means that no consent was given OR that the victim was incapable of giving consent due to intimidation, incapacitation or being a minor.
    • The person who initiates sexual contact is responsible for gaining clear verbal of physical signs of consent.
    • Consent can not be assumed from silence or previous consent to sexual activity.
    • Consent can be withdrawn at any time, at which point sexual contact must cease.
    • Victims are not required to physically resist their assailants.
What if alcohol or drugs were involved?
  • A victim who was drunk or high is still a victim.
  • A perpetrator who was drunk or high is still a perpetrator.
  • A person who is incapacitated due to permanent or temporary (e.g., from alcohol or drug consumption) physical or mental impairment can not give consent to sexual activity. 
    • "Incapacitation" is defined as the physical and/or mental inability to make informed, rational judgments; in this context an incapacitated individual would be unable to understand the nature or consequences of the sexual activity involved.

Don't let the fact that alcohol or drugs were involved dissuade you from urging a victim to report the misconduct.

See menu link "What is Sexual Misconduct" for a more detailed explanation of behaviors that constitute sexual misconduct.

What can I say to a victim about confidentiality?
  • Faculty and staff members of the Roanoke College community are expected to report incidents of sexual misconduct to a Title IX Coordinator.
  • You can assure the victim that you will only share information with administrators who are designated to address sexual harassment incidents so that harassment and harm to the victim will not continue and other members of the community will not be at risk. A victim's name will never be shared with the accused without the victim's consent.
  • A victim can request that you not reveal his or her name or any personally identifiable information when you report the incident to a Title IX Coordinator.
  • Victims can request confidentiality and can choose whether or not to file a formal complaint. Victims should understand that the request for confidentiality can hinder the College's ability to respond to the situation and address its ongoing effects.
  • The College will do everything possible to honor a victim's request for confidentiality.

If a victim wants to talk with someone who can offer the highest level of confidentiality, please refer him or her to a counselor, clergy, or health care professional. 

Contact:

Faculty and staff members of the Roanoke College community are expected to report incidents of sexual misconduct to a Title IX Coordinator. A victim can request that you not reveal his or her name or any personally identifiable information when you report the incident to a Title IX Coordinator. See the menu link "Reporting Sexual Misconduct."