Counseling and Resource Center

When Someone You Know...

...is Affected By Sexual Assault

Understanding Sexual Assault

Sexual assault is a profound violation of a person's body, sexuality, and sense of self and safety.  The effects of sexual assault can last a lifetime, rippling out to family members, school and work, communities and down through generations.

Sexual assault is an umbrella term that includes a wide range of victimizations.  It occurs when a person is forced, coerced, and/or manipulated into unwanted sexual activity.  It can include completed or attempted attacks, may or may not involve force and threats, and it may or may not be illegal under state or federal law.

Sexual assault is part of a range of behaviors that offenders use to take power from their victims.  It can begin with words, gestures, jokes and intimidation.  It can progress to coercion, threats and actions that involve sexual touching or intercourse, and may involve other forms of violence.  

Survivors of sexual assault can be of any age, any gender and any background.  Sexual assault is also used as a tool of intimidation or war against entire communities.  While we know that offenders may target people from some communities, anyone can be a victim, and everyone is affected – directly or indirectly – by sexual assault.

Survivors of sexual assault may never forget their victimization, but they can heal with support from family, friends and their communities.  Today sexual assault programs across Washington State and the U.S. offer free crisis hotlines, support, advocacy, information and resources to survivors from all walks of life.

To Help Prevent Sexual Assault

While there is no absolute way to prevent an assault from occurring, there are several steps that one can take to reduce the risk of becoming a victim of sexual assault:

  • Evaluate your situation. Stay aware of your environment and the people in it.
  • Don't feel as if you have to go out alone with someone you have just met.
  • Monitor your actions and the actions of potential partners. Stay aware of your desires and expectations, communicate them clearly and monitor the reactions to these desires and expectations.
  • On campus, walk confidently and stay aware of your surroundings.
  • Notice what your gut tells you and listen to it.
  • Don't hesitate to leave a situation if you have concerns; do so loudly and authoritatively.
  • Stay in public areas on campus, away from parked cars, bushes, or doorways. Use the Campus Security escort service.

Information for Victims

If you were just assaulted:

  • Assure your safety--get to a place that is safe. If you are in immediate danger, call 911.
  • Contact someone who can help you. This could be an advocate from a Sexual Assault Center, the police, Campus Security, or a trusted friend or family member.
  • If possible, preserve evidence of the attack; don't bathe, brush your teeth, or change or destroy your clothing — your clothes are also evidence.
  • If the assault took place in your home, do not rearrange and/or clean up anything.
  • As soon as you are safe, go to a hospital Emergency Room. Even if you do not think you have any medical issues as a result of the attack, it is best to have a doctor check that there are no unseen injuries, to discuss emergency contraception, etc. The hospital can sometimes collect evidence up to 72 hours after an attack, although an immediate exam is most likely to gather evidence. Both the police and a sexual assault center advocate can meet you at the hospital.
  • As soon as you can, write down every detail that you can remember.
  • And remember, what happened is not your fault, and you will recover.

What Should I Do If My Friend/Partner/Family Member Has Been Sexually Assaulted?

This significant person in your life needs your support. You can provide that support by:

  • Validating their feelings
  • Refraining from questioning their experience
  • Having patience with their healing and recovery. It will take time.
  • Reminding them that sexual abuse is not their fault
  • Letting them know that you believe them
  • Allowing them to express feelings
  • Reinforcing the importance of getting medical assistance
  • Supporting their decision to report or not report
  • Getting support yourself
  • Encouraging the survivor's creation of a strong network of support

How Can Edmonds Community College Help?

Edmonds Community College is committed to creating a safe campus environment. We provide the following to help attain this goal:

  • Lectures regarding topics such as personal safety, workplace issues, and self-care are offered periodically.
  • Routine reports of incidents affecting the safety of the campus are available at: www.edcc.edu/safety/cleryact/
  • Escort to your car or bus is available from Campus Safety and Security by calling:425.754.0154
  • Counseling services and referral to resources are available through the Counseling and Resource Center.
  • Sexual assault survivors can explore action through the College by contacting the College's Title IX Coordinator, at 425.640.1562.

Resources

Providence Sexual Assault Center 24-hour Crisis Line: 425.252.4800

Local Police: 911

EdCC Campus Safety and Security: 425.754.0154

Snohomish County Care Crisis Line: 425.258.4357

Snohomish County Domestic Violence Services: 425.25ABUSE (425.252.2873)

National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1.800.656.HOPE (4673)

Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs