First Get Help
If you are a victim of sexual misconduct, please consider the following:
- Calling the police. You can call the police in the jurisdiction where the violence occurred or you can contact your campus police department. By calling the police you may receive information regarding your rights as well as information regarding the preservation of evidence necessary to the proof of sexual violence.
- Getting medical attention. Even if you don't want to file a police report, consider receiving medical attention at a doctor’s office, urgent care clinic or a hospital as soon as possible. Even though you may not feel any pain, you may be injured. Also, if you are a victim of sexual assault, a sexual assault forensic exam may be performed by a medical professional certified in this area at no cost to you. A person who has been the victim of rape or other sexual assault is encouraged to request collection of medical-legal evidence through what is called a Sexual Assault Forensic Exam (SAFE) performed within 4 days of the incident. Collection of evidence entails interaction with police and a police report. Prompt collection of physical evidence is essential should a person later decide to pursue criminal prosecution and/or a civil action. If the sexual assault occurred outside of 72 hours, a free and confidential exam still can be administered at local hospitals; however, the sooner a rape or sexual assault is reported, the more likely evidence will remain. To help preserve evidence, the victim is encouraged to avoid:
- bathing or douching;
- washing hands or face;
- drinking any liquids;
- smoking, eating, or brushing their teeth;
- if clothes are changed, soiled clothes should be placed in a paper bag (plastic can destroy crucial evidence). For more information about the sexual assault forensic exam see http://hopelaws.org/ or https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/victims/sapcs.shtml#survivors.
- Consulting a confidential resource such as a licensed professional counselor, medical professional or a member of the clergy. These trained professionals can provide counseling, information, and support under legally protected confidentiality. Because these relationships involve privileged conversations, these confidential resources will not share information with the Title IX Coordinator or any other employee of the University without the individual’s express permission. They may, however, submit non-identifying information about the incident for purposes of making a statistical report under federal law.
- Contacting your campus Title IX Coordinator. That person will be able to provide you with the various options available to you and can help you secure any accommodations you might need like an adjustment to your housing or your class schedule.
- To find more information on getting help, please click the Care tab of this website. To locate resources, please click the Resources tab.
Reporting by the Victim
If you chose to report these issues, here is some information that might be helpful to you.
- You have the right to decide if and when they report the incident(s) to the University, law enforcement, or to any other member of the University community.
- The University strongly encourages individuals to access services, such as counseling and medical help, that can respond to the immediate mental and physical impact of an act of Sexual Misconduct. Individuals can access these services regardless of whether they report what happened.
- The University strongly encourages reporting as soon as possible. Prompt reporting may preserve options that delayed reporting does not, including immediate police response and the preservation of physical evidence that may be necessary to prove an alleged criminal offense or to obtain a protective order.
- Once an individual alerts the University of a violation of the Sexual Misconduct Policy, they will be provided with information including the Sexual Misconduct Policy, their rights, reporting options, and support resources.
UHS encourages victims of sexual misconduct to report it to the university. For victims who do not wish to be identified, UHS allows anonymous reports to be made by victims and others not required to report. Those individuals may submit a report through a web-based reporting system called MySafeCampus, which allows the option of anonymity. The web address for MySafeCampus is http://www.mysafecampus.com. Reports received through this site will be reviewed and may be investigated. UHS will work with anyone who is identified via a My Safe Campus report or subsequent investigation to provide confidentiality to the full extent possible under this policy.
At UHS some resources are confidential meaning these persons will respect your privacy by not disclosing anything revealed to them by you except under agreed upon conditions. Confidential resources include university staff of campus counseling or health centers, individuals operating in the role of a pastoral counselor, a confidential advisor, and other University employees whose job is to provide medical and mental health care. These resources do not report any information about an incident to the Title IX Coordinator without a victim’s permission.
Community-based programs not affiliated with the University may also be confidential resources and would follow their own policies and procedures regarding reporting duties.
However, these resources may have reporting obligations under state or federal law. For example, healthcare providers and certain other individuals are required to notify law enforcement when a victim seeks treatment for injuries related to a violent crime, including sexual assault. Similarly, all persons are required to notify law enforcement when they receive a report of sexual abuse of a minor.
All employees, students, and third parties are strongly encouraged to immediately report any incidents alleged sexual misconduct to the Title IX Coordinator and/or a Deputy Coordinator.
All Responsible Employees who receive a report of Sexual Misconduct must share that information with the Title IX Coordinator and/or a Deputy Coordinator and cannot maintain confidentiality with the exception of:
- The staff of a counseling or health center
- Individuals who are associated with the University in the role of a pastoral counselor or confidential advisor
In addition, some individuals who are not Responsible Employees who must share reports of Sexual Misconduct with the Title IX Coordinator and/or a Deputy Coordinator, including, but not limited to:
- Academic Advisors
- Resident Advisors
- Members of Student Government Associations
- Individuals, including students, serving as responsible persons, even if they are volunteers, at a University-affiliated activity. These individuals could be teaching, graduate, and research assistants, chaperones, peer mentors and retreat counselors.
These individuals are required to report because they are either in a position to do something about the alleged actions, may be perceived to be able to do something about the alleged action, or would otherwise have to report known or suspected incidents of Sexual Misconduct.
However, employees are not required to report incidents or sexual misconduct disclosed at a public awareness event. A public awareness events such as “Take Back the Night”, candlelight vigils, protests, “survivor speak outs” or other forums in which members of the community disclose incidents of violations of this Policy are not considered notice to the University for the purpose of triggering its obligation to investigate. However, information regarding rights under this Policy will be available to anyone who discloses Sexual Misconduct at one of these types of events.
How to Respond to Someone Who May Have Experienced Sexual Misconduct
Remember, at the University of Houston System, ours is a community that cares. If you see someone in need, you should help them. With that said, because you are a member of this community, you may find yourself in the position of responding to a direct disclosure of sexual misconduct from another member. And if that happens, here is how you can help them.
Step 1: Care for that Person
- Prior to a Disclosure.
If you believe the person (reporter) is about to tell you about and incident of sexual misconduct, explain your reporting duties before they make the disclosure. If the reporter wants to talk to someone WITHOUT any information being reported, refer them to the confidential resources listed in the resources section of this website. Also, here is a sample script you could use:
“I need to tell you that if I become aware that sexual misconduct has occurred, I am required to inform University staff who are specially trained to respond, so that steps can be taken to ensure your safety and the safety of our community. Your privacy will be respected, but if you prefer to talk to someone who does not have an obligation to report, there are other options. On campus, you can talk to someone in our counseling center.”
- During the disclosure: Listen with empathy.
Listening is the single most important thing that you can do. No one deserves to be a victim of violence, regardless of the circumstances. Let the victim know they are not to blame for the assault. Avoid asking questions that imply fault, such as “How much were you drinking?” or “Why didn’t you call the police?” Instead, say something simple and kind, like:
“I’m sorry that this happened to you.” or “Thank you for telling me.”
- During the disclosure: Provide Non-Judgmental Support and Respect Their Decisions.
One of the most important ways to provide support is to listen without judging or blaming. Remember that no matter the circumstances, no one deserves to be subjected to sexual misconduct. Allow the victim to talk about their experience. The person may not know what to call what happened; do not define the experience for them. Follow their lead; do not take control of the situation or try and do something to “fix” it. Having experienced sexual misconduct can cause the person to feel a loss of control; let the victim make their own decisions, and support their decisions. Also understand that everyone responds uniquely to sexual misconduct. Some common reactions may include shock, fear, embarrassment, guilt, anger, depression, and/or feeling overwhelmed. This is okay. Remember, you are not an investigator; you are someone the victim trusts. Avoid telling the victim what they “should” or “must” do. One of the most important things you can do is help the victim take back the power that they have lost. Try phrases like:
“What kind of help do you need?” or “When you are ready, there is help available.”
Step 2: Get the Student Help
- Ensuring the student is safe. If there is immediate danger, contact your campus police or local police department. Remember, it is always the victim’s choice whether or not to report to the police.
- Connecting the Victim with Resources. If the reporter is a victim of sexual misconduct, you should provide the victim with additional information for contacting on-and-off campus resources. You could start by making them aware of this website if they are not aware of it already.
Step 3: Contact Your Title IX Coordinator
Contacting the Title IX Coordinator. At the earliest possible time (no later than 24 hours) after you receive information that a student has experienced sexual misconduct, you must report it to your University’s Title IX Coordinator. You will need to report all relevant details about the incident(s) disclosed by the reporter. This includes the names of the reporter, the accused, and any witnesses, as well as any other relevant facts, including the date, time, and specific location of the incident. Once you have reported to your University’s Title IX Coordinator, you do not need to take further action. Understand, however, that you may be contacted for follow-up information as the University proceeds to respond to the report.
Clery Act Reporting
The Clery Act requires the University to designate University staff members who have significant responsibility for student or campus activities as Campus Security Authorities (CSAs). At the University of Houston System, CSAs include: the Dean of Students; most managerial staff in the Division of Student Affairs; Residence Life staff, including resident assistants; advisors to registered student organizations; the Director and Associate Directors of Athletics and athletic coaches. CSAs are required to provide information regarding any report of a Title IX offense to UHPD to be included in the University’s Annual Report of Crime Statistics and, if appropriate, for the purpose of issuing a safety alert (timely warning) or other emergency notification. A victim’s name and other personally identifying information is NOT included in any safety alert or emergency notification. Click here for more information regarding Clery Act Reporting.
The University takes reports of Sexual Misconduct very seriously and will not tolerate retaliation against those who make such reports or participate in the investigation or adjudication process. Retaliation includes, but is not limited to, any adverse employment or educational action taken for making a report of Sexual Misconduct, or otherwise participating under the Sexual Misconduct Policy.
Any actual or threatened retaliation, or any act of intimidation to prevent or otherwise obstruct the reporting of a violation of the Sexual Misconduct Policy or the participation in proceedings relating to a report of Sexual Misconduct, may be considered a separate violation of the Sexual Misconduct Policy and may result in disciplinary sanctions.
Any person who believes that they have been subjected to retaliation should immediately report this concern to their Title IX Coordinator.
Your campus police department and/or your Title IX Coordinator can assist any member of the campus community in obtaining a court issued protection order or a University no-contact order. If a protection order is issued, the protected party should provide a copy of the order to your campus police department. Your campus police department will coordinate notification to the appropriate University offices. The protected party should report any violation promptly to their campus police department.
Immigration and International Students
It is important to note that the process of responding to reports of sexual misconduct protects all members of the campus community regardless of their citizenship status. Additionally legal protections may be available for immigrants and international students who are the victims of crime or human trafficking. The United States Department of Homeland Security, Citizenship and Immigration Services annually sets aside a limited number of non-immigrant visas for individuals who meet eligibility criteria. More information is available at: www.uscis.gov.
If you ever desire any information regarding the Sexual Misconduct Policy or training opportunities on your campus, the following is a list of UHS Title IX Coordinator (link to the Title IX tab).s. If you have any concerns about sex discrimination, sexual misconduct specifically, please contact one of the following offices.