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Interpersonal Violence

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Viterbo University Statement on Sexual Assault

Respect of others, responsibility for one's behavior and adherence to standard of conduct are essential to building a safe and healthy university community. Sexual assault will not be tolerated at Viterbo University as it is a crime and a serious violation of trust, dignity, and rights. Sexual assault shows disregard for standards outlined in the Viterbo University Code of Student Conduct, state, and federal law.

Sexual assault is defined as sexual contact or sexual intercourse with another person without consent. It includes, but is not limited to, sexual intercourse without consent, whether by an acquaintance or a stranger; kindness oral or anal sex; intentional touching either of the victim or when the victim is forced to touch, directly or through clothing, another person's intimate parts, etc. (See Wisconsin State Statutes 940.225 and 948.012). Consent requires speech indicating a feely given agreement to have sexual intercourse or participate in sexual activities. Silence, previous sexual relationships, or current relationships are not an indication of consent. The use of alcohol or drugs may limit the capacity to give consent. (A college study with 119 schools participating nationwide reported alcohol involved in nearly 72 percent of rapes. Harvard School of Public Health, 2004).

A student or employee charged with sexual assault may be disciplined under the Viterbo University Code of Student Conduct and/or prosecuted under Wisconsin criminal statutes. Viterbo University may pursue disciplinary action independent of the criminal system which may result in removal from the university. Results of campus disciplinary proceedings involving sex offenses are provided to the person filing the report as well as the accused. The Vice President for Student Development will assist persons who have been assaulted in making necessary changes to academic schedules, housing assignments, etc.

Sexual assaults violate the security and well-being of the entire campus community. Those who have been sexually assaulted are encouraged to talk with others in whom they have confidence. These resources are available on the Viterbo campus and in the community.

  • Counseling Services, 608-796-3808, Student Development Center, 936 Franciscan Way
  • Health Services, 608-796-3806, Student Development Center, 936 Franciscan Way
  • Vice President for Student Development, 608-796-3801, Student Development Center, 936 Franciscan Way
  • Franciscan Skemp Safe Path Domestic Abuse and Sexual Assault Services, 608-791-7804 or 1-800-362-5454 ext. 27804
  • Gundersen Lutheran Sexual Assault Services, 608-775-5950 or 1-800-362-9567, ext. 5950
  • New Horizons Shelter and Women's Center, 608-791-2600 or 1-888-231-0066

Reports of sexual assaults to Viterbo University official are held confidential. This means that name of the person who has been assaulted and identifying information will not be shared other than with Viterbo campus officials and the student's emergency contact in the case of an emergency. Medical care is encouraged within 72 hours of the assault. Educational programs designed to prevent and reduce sexual assault are offered annually. For program details, contact the Vice President for Student Development.

What to do if you are sexually assaulted

"Just under three percent of all college women become victims of rape (either completed or attempted) in a given nine month academic year. On first glance, the risk seems low, but the percentage translates into a disturbing figure of 35 such crimes for every 1,000 women students. If the percentage is projected to a full calendar, the proportion rises to nearly five percent of college women. When projected over a now-typical five-year college career, one in five young women experience rape during college." (National Institute of Justice, 2000).

"Counter to widespread stranger-rape myths, in the vast majority of these crimes (sexual assault) between 80 and 90 percent-victim and assailant know each other. In fact, the more intimate the relationship, the more likely it is for a rape to be completed rather than attempted" (National Institute of Justice, 2000).

If you are sexually assaulted, it is important that you care for yourself in the manner that is best for you. For some, this means reporting the crime immediately and working to have the assailant brought to justice. Others prefer to seek medical and emotional care without reporting the assault as a crime. Regardless of your preference for self-care, here are three steps that everyone who has been sexually assaulted should follow:

  • Get medical care.
  • Remember that the person assaulted is not at fault.
  • Obtain emotional support to help with healing and feeling safe.

Get Medical Care

  1. First, find a safe environment away from the assailant. Then go to a medical center or hospital emergency room to get medical attention, and to be checked for sexually transmitted diseases and internal injuries.
  2. Medical attention is confidential.
  3. Most medical centers and hospital emergency rooms have doctors and counselors who have been trained to assist individuals who have been sexually assaulted.  Franciscan Skemp and Gundersen Lutheran provide Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Services (SANE) in their emergency rooms.
  4. It's best to seek medical care immediately after a sexual assault. However, if an examination does not occur right away, it is still possible to visit a medical professional to be examined for STDs, pregnancy or injuries:
  5. Write down as much as you can remember about the assault and the assailant.
  6. Medical attention also helps if one decides to press charges, providing evidence needed to prosecute if a criminal case is pursued.
    1. Student Development Center-don't bathe or brush teeth.
    2. To preserve forensic evidence, ask the hospital to conduct a "rape kit" exam.  Even if the rape was not completed, an exam can still be very helpful in gathering evidence.
    3. Those who think they may have been drugged can ask that a urine sample be collected. The sample will be analyzed by a forensic lab.
  7. It is often helpful to have friends and family members along for support when seeking medical care.
  8. The person who has been assaulted should visit their doctor one or two weeks after the assault to review the results of tests taken in the emergency room.

The person assaulted is not at fault

  1. Sexual assault is a crime of violence in which the assailant is motivated by a desire to humiliate and achieve power over the person who is assaulted. 93 percent of sexual assaults are committed by someone known to the victim. (Safe Path, 2004)
  2. Sexual assault usually occurs as a deliberate action by the perpetrator. It is not the fault of the person who has been assaulted. No one has the right to have sex against someone's will without their consent.
  3. Most people who are sexually assaulted know the perpetrator. Because of this, the person who has been assaulted may not want to reveal the name of the assailant. Some feel comfortable reporting an incident of sexual assault, others do not. The person assaulted should take the steps they feel will best help them feel safe and heal.
  4. Many assailants will attempt to lay blame and fault the person who was assaulted by saying these or other things: "You asked for it" or "You wanted it." In fact, how another person acts, what they say or what they wear is never justification for rape.

Obtain emotional support

  1. Being sexually assaulted may be emotionally traumatic and have a major impact on a person's life. Proper support, emotional care, and attention can assist in the healing process and prevent later concerns.
  2. Those who have been assaulted often feel a combination of disbelief, fear, confusion, anger, numbness, anxiousness, guilt, shame, and embarrassment. It's not uncommon to want to be alone or to withdraw from fiends and family. 
  3. Depression during the first year after a rape is reported by about half of all those assaulted. It is important to keep scheduled visits with doctors and report any physical, emotional, or sexual problems. 
  4. After an assault, it is frequently hard to sleep, eat, concentrate, in school, or participate in everyday activities. It often seems as if one will never get over the distress of rape. While these effects are perfectly normal, seeking professional support can be very helpful. 
  5. Talking with a trained professional in assisting sexual assault victims is the best way to ensure long-lasting healing. Working through the hurt sooner rather than later can help reduce side effects.
  6. Counseling services are free, confidential and available to all enrolled Viterbo students. The counselor is available in the fall and spring semesters. Counseling services is located in the Student Development Center (next to San Damiano Chapel). The phone number is 608-796-3808.
  7. These La Crosse agencies offer 24 hour hotlines and services for those who have been sexually assaulted:
    1. Franciscan Skemp Safe Path Domestic Abuse and Sexual Assault Services offer free counseling and sexual assault advocacy. 608-791-7804 or 1-800-362-5454 ext. 27804
    2. Gundersen Lutheran Sexual Assault Services, 608-775-5950 or 1-800-362-9567, ext. 5950. Offers free counseling and advocacy.
    3. New Horizons Shelter and Women's Center, 608-791-2600 or 1-888-231-0066
    4. The National Sexual Assault Hotline operated for free, 24 hours each day can also provide you with support and guidance. The number is 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

To help a friend who has been sexually assaulted

  1. Be there and listen. Do not be judgmental. 
  2. Be patient. It will take time to heal and cope with the crime.
  3. Assist the friend in obtaining medical care.
  4. Encourage the person to seek professional help.

Ways to reduce your risk of sexual assault

  1. If you feel uncomfortable about a person or situation, remove yourself from it immediately.
  2. Be aware of your surroundings at all times.
  3. Do not permit yourself to be alone with someone that you do not know or trust.
  4. Go to parties and social gatherings with a group of friends. Arrive together and leave together.
  5. Do not leave your beverage unattended. Do not accept a beverage from an open container.
  6. Think about the level of intimacy that you want in a relationship and clearly state your limits.
  7. Clearly say no to unwanted drinks, touch, sex, gifts, or assistance.
  8. Maintain your own values despite what another person wants.
  9. (Information provided by Franciscan Skemp Safe Path, 2006)

Procedures for reporting an assault

In an effort to support individuals who have been assaulted, to comply with statues on collection and reporting of sexual assaults to decrease crime, these procedures are outlined:

  1. Viterbo students are encouraged to report assaults and seek help from the offices below. The names of individuals assaulted are confidential.
    1. Counseling Services, 608-796-3808
    2. Health Services, 608-796-3806
    3. Vice President for Student Development, 608-796-3801
  2. Faculty and staff who come in contact with a student who has been a victim of sexual assault should be gentle and concerned. Assure the student that names of victims are kept confidential.
  3. The individual who is assaulted may request that the vice President for Student Development work with other campus staff members to explore alternatives to adjust academic schedules and living arrangements.
  4. If the student who is assaulted or the accused student requests a disciplinary conference, a campus hearing and/or disciplinary action, due process procedures outlined in the Code of Student Conduct will be followed.
  5. Any campus community member who has received a firsthand account of a sexual assault should complete a report form after talking with the person assaulted (not during the conversation). Once the form is completed, deliver it to the Vice President for Student Development.
  6. The confidential forms are used to compile sexual assault statistics that are reported to the federal government annually. Completing the form assists the university in maintaining a safe environment. Forms are available online in the Student Development Center, 936 Franciscan Way.
  7. The Vice President for Student Development works in cooperation with other university employees to compile security data necessary for federal reporting requirements.
  8. University personnel are available to initiate contact and arrange a meeting between you and police. A representative of the university will accompany you if you prefer.
  9. Viterbo University encourages students, faculty, staff, and guests to report all sexual assaults to the police. You may report the assault to the police without pressing charges. The contact numbers for the La Crosse Police Department are:
    1. La Crosse Police Department Emergency 911
    2. La Crosse Police Department Non-Emergency 785-5962