Assault Contact Team
“The longer you keep it to yourself, the harder it is to move on.”
If you have been sexually assaulted or think you’ve been assaulted, know that there is help available.
If the assault has just occurred, the first and most important consideration is your safety. Get to a safe place where you can make arrangements for medical services as soon as possible. Do not wash your hands, shower, go to the bathroom, brush your teeth, eat, smoke, or douche. Preserve each item of clothing you were wearing at the time of the assault separately in a paper bag. If you are on campus and have been physically injured, call Public Safety (ext. 7432) and request that they contact a counselor for you and call Mahwah PD to dispatch an ambulance. By contacting Public Safety, you are not obligated to file an incident report. At your request, only an anonymous crime report will be completed for statistical purposes. Only after discussing your situation with a counselor and learning what is entailed in filing a report will you be asked to make decisions regarding legal and judicial options. Even if you do not want to make a formal incident report or file charges, you still have the right to other victims’ services.
Students can also contact the Bergen County Police directly if the assault has taken place within the past five days. Students can call (201) 646-2700 to activate the Bergen County Sexual Assault Response Team. Students will have the option of meeting with a police officer, a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (for evidence collection) at a local hospital, and a member of the healingSPACE: A Sexual Violence Resource Center. Students wishing to use any or all of the County ACT services may also still avail themselves of campus services such Counseling Services.
Counseling Services provides a full range of mental health services, including individual therapy, referrals to treatment providers in the community, and crisis intervention.
There is no one way that victims of sexual assault tend to react – people will react differently to the stress and trauma of such a violation. The emotional and physical reactions listed below are common aspects of what is referred to as Rape Trauma Syndrome. Speaking with a trained counselor and/or medical professional can often help as you deal with your experience and move towards healing.
- Sleep disturbances
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Stomach pain or other gastro-intestinal problems
- Gynecological problems
- Disruptions of normal eating patterns
Depending on how they are addressed, these initial reactions may become more entrenched and chronic, leading to more serious disorders. Please seek help.
And remember, it is not your fault that you were assaulted. Nothing “justifies” rape or abuse:
- an individual always has the right to say no, under any circumstances
- using alcohol or drugs, wearing “sexy” clothing, or even flirting are NOT invitations to be raped. While you should be aware of how some people might interpret your clothing, wearing such clothing doesn’t mean you are to blame for a sexual assault. Clothing never gives anyone the right to sexually violate another person, and only the perpetrator is responsible for the actions committed.
- Lack of a weapon or physical force doesn’t mean it wasn’t rape. If there wasn’t consent, it’s rape.
- If you’ve had sex before, it doesn’t mean you must always have sex thereafter. Everyone has a choice in each individual sexual encounter, and everyone has the responsibility to respect their partner’s wishes.
If you wake up and cannot remember what has happened–if the last thing you remember was being with friends or anywhere other than where you are at the present moment, you may have been the victim of date rape drugs. Even if you know you were drinking a lot, and it therefore may be an alcohol “blackout,” you still need to find out what happened.
If you weren’t drinking much or not drinking alcohol at all, and you have a significant memory loss and unexplained whereabouts, you need to get medical help immediately.
Signs that you may have been drugged:
- If you see indications that you may have had sexual relations but cannot remember anything taking place.
- If you have a bad hangover, but weren’t drinking
- If you have unexplained memory loss
- If you feel any of the following symptoms: headache, muscle aches, hallucinations, dizziness, nausea, anxiety, slowed heart rate.
Date rape drugs often have no smell or taste; they can begin to work as quickly as 10-30 minutes, and after effects can last as long as 4-24 hours. Some drugs, if given in high enough quantities, can cause coma and death.
Precautions to take:
- Don’t drink beverages that you didn’t open yourself
- Don’t exchange or share drinks with anyone
- Don’t drink from a punch bowl, even if you think you know who prepared the punch and trust them.
- Don’t accept drinks from anyone; or accompany the person making the offer, watch it being poured/opened, and carry it yourself.
- Don’t drink from your drink if it’s been out of your sight.
- If your drink has a salty taste or residue, discard it. If you’ve drunk some of it, let friends know and ask them to watch you.