Survivors of Sexual Assault

What is Sexual Assault?

Sexual assault is any unwanted, non-consensual sexual act in which a person is threatened, coerced or forced to comply against their will, or when a person is unable to give consent because they are a minor, unconscious, asleep or incapacitated due to drugs or alcohol.

A perpetrator of sexual assault may be known or unknown to the survivor; he or she could be a date, partner, spouse, acquaintance, family member or stranger.

What is Affirmative Consent?

In California, "Affirmative Consent" or Yes Means Yes law, (Senate Bill 967), is defined as positive cooperation. Consent must be freely and voluntarily given, and participants must have knowledge and understanding of the act. Here are links to videos that will help frame the context to his law about affirmative consent:

Cup of Tea Consent Video
It's On Us: One Thing Video

Consent cannot be given when force, threat of force, coercion or fraud is used to gain compliance.

Consent cannot be given when someone

  • is incapacitated due to alcohol or other drug use
  • is asleep or unconscious
  • is under the legal age of consent (18 years old in California)
  • has limited mental capacity due to a disability or mental illness

Consent can also be revoked, even in the middle of a sex act. If someone physically or verbally communicates to the other person that s/he does not wish to continue with the sexual act or encounter, the other person must immediately stop. If s/he does not stop when asked, any sex act after consent has been revoked is considered assault.

What Should I Do if I’m a Survivor of Sexual Assault?

The first thing you should know is that sexual assault is NEVER the survivor’s fault.

Your safety is most important. Please make sure you are in a safe place.

If you have any injuries that need medical attention, you may choose to go to the hospital.

Options for Evidentiary Exam within 72 Hours

If the sexual assault happened within 72 hours, you may choose to have an evidentiary exam in order to collect evidence of the assault.

Usually, law enforcement approves the exam for evidentiary purposes; however, if you are not sure you want to report the assault to the police, you may be eligible for an exam as specified by the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (VAWA).

A VAWA exam may allow you to obtain evidence while it’s still possible to do so, and give you some time to think about reporting the crime.

Survivor’s Choices after Sexual Assault

If you have been sexually assaulted:

  1. Prioritize your physical and emotional health. Get to a safe place. Call a friend or someone you trust to be with you.
  2. It is your right to choose whether to call law enforcement. If you so choose you may call 911, the Santa Barbara Police Department 805.897.2300 or the Santa Barbara Sheriff's Office 805.681.4100.
  3. Call the Standing Together to End Sexual Assault (STESA) 24-hour hotline ((805) 564-3696). STESA provides free, confidential support and counseling. They can offer valuable information and answers to your questions.
  4. On campus, call Campus Safety @ x 4200 or come to the Student Health Center in SS-170 during office hours.
  5. Contact the Title IX Coordinator, (805) 730-4303 or the Deputy Title IX Coordinator, (805) 730-4266

Seek medical help. Taking care of your body may be the first step to recovering control of your life. A medical exam can ascertain whether infection, sexual transmitted infection, pregnancy, internal injuries or shock are warranting further treatment. If you choose to report the rape, you may receive medical care through SART (Sexual Assault Response Team). Community clinics, Planned Parenthood and private doctors also provide medical care. You are not required to report to law enforcement when you go to a clinic or doctor. However, if you talk with a doctor or nurse about the assault, they are obligated to report this information to law enforcement regardless of your age.

Reporting Options:
  • Standing Together to End Sexual Assault (STESA) has trained advocates to talk with you about your rights and options in relation to medical and legal concerns. (564-3696) The advocate’s primary role is to support you. She will give you as much information as you need and will support your decisions. If you decide to get medical care and/or report to the police, she can be with you through the entire procedure.
  • If you choose to report, you can call law enforcement directly at 911 or ask an advocate to assist you in making the call. If you are considering making a report to law enforcement, do not douche, shower, bathe, change or destroy your clothes immediately following the assault. Although it is normal to want to clean up immediately after an assault, doing so removes vital evidence. Once the call is made, a police officer will meet with you and take a report. You have the right to have someone with you during the interview procedure. The medical exam should be done as soon as possible after the assault.
  • If you wish to report anonymously, you may do so. Some people want law enforcement to be aware of an assault and assailant but wish to remain anonymous. Standing Together to End Sexual Assault (STESA) will help you complete an anonymous survivor report and will send copies to the appropriate agencies. Law enforcement will not make any arrests based on an anonymous report, however, the information may be helpful in investigating similar cases.
Survivors of Sexual Assault may:
  1. Report the incident to and request support from the Title IX Coordinator regardless of whether a formal complaint is filed.
  2. File an anonymous report for the purpose of documentation only. For the reporting form click here.
  3. Contact Campus Safety: They will escort to your classes or car as needed, or support you with enforcing restraining orders while on campus.
  4. File a civil suit against the accused.
  5. Seek to obtain a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) - If you know your assailant and fear further contact, a TRO may provide you with added protection. TRO states that the assailant cannot call you, come near you, or in any other way harass you for the duration of the order. A TRO can be obtained through a private attorney or the Legal Aid Foundation (805-410-4882). Once the assailant has been given notice of the restraining order, he can be arrested for violating any of its terms.
  6. Request academic assistance for missed classes or exams, or help with rearranging your coursework. The Title IX Coordinator can assist you with academic accommodation requests to instructors.