An Online Guide to Mental & Behavioral Health

Resources for College Students

What is Sexual Assault?

Sexual assault is a sexual act attempted or committed without consent, including:

  • Inappropriate touching
  • Threats of sexual violence
  • Vaginal, anal, or oral penetration
  • Sexual intercourse that you say "no" to
  • Rape or attempted rape
  • Child molestation

Both men and women can be victims of sexual assault. If you're not sure whether or not you were sexually assaulted, talk to a counselor in a confidential setting.

Consent and Rape

Under California law, consent cannot be given if the person is asleep, intoxicated, unconscious, mentally disordered, or under threat of force. Intercourse under any of these circumstances is rape. Rape is never the victim's fault. No one is ever "asking for it". If you've been a victim of rape or any other form of sexual assault:

  • Go to a safe place, such as the campus police or student health center.
  • Consider reporting the crime to the police authorities and to the campus administration, if the assault took place on campus.
  • Call a trusted person for support.
  • Get medical attention. As soon as possible, go to a hospital or the Student Health Center, where you can be examined and treated for injuries. You may want to take steps to prevent pregnancy, as well as get tested and/or treated for sexually transmitted infections. Treatment for HIV prevention must begin within 72 hours.
  • Consider evidence collection. Evidence collected soon after the assault will be valuable if you decide to report, and even if you don't report, you can still provide medical evidence to a hospital. It is best to not shower or clean yourself before you provide evidence. If you change clothes, place the clothes you were wearing in a paper bag.
  • Consider filing charges. You may decide for yourself based on your own circumstances whether or not to file charges. Before you decide, you can speak with the police about what will happen. Some organizations listed on this web site are available to help you consider the pros and cons.

From: A Guide to Surviving Sexual Assault; City College of San Francisco.Full article

Coping with Feelings Produced by Sexual Assault

Being raped or sexually assaulted is a very distressing experience with effects that can be long lasting. Victims of sexual assault often describe feeling:

  • Frightened
  • Guilty
  • Powerless
  • Angry
  • Ashamed
  • Depressed
  • Numb
  • Lacking self-confidence

Sometimes victims have difficulty with eating or sleeping. They may lack concentration and find this makes academic work difficult. Every person reacts differently and it is not unusual for feelings to change from day to day.

In particular there can be a long gap between the assault and the emotional reaction. It can be difficult to talk about the attack to friends or family yet it is important to have understanding and support. It can be helpful to talk to a trained person in confidence, either a counselor on campus or a local Rape Crisis center.

People will react differently to the trauma of sexual assault or rape. Many will just try to carry on as normal and not tell anyone for a long time. However, frequently the trauma may resurface some time after the event. Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD) is not uncommon in victims of rape and sexual assault.

A victim can still seek counseling and medical attention, no matter how much time has elapsed. Do not feel you have to cope on your own simply because you did not report the incident soon after it happened.

Sexual Assault Resources

General Mental Health Resources

The menu on the right will link you to information on specific mental health topics. -->
Below are additional links to excellent websites for mental health information:

  • Go Ask Alice: Website operated by Columbia University to answer the questions of college students on issues related to physical health, mental health, and sexuality.
  • Half Of Us: This engaging youth-oriented site uses video stories of students and high-profile artists to increase awareness about mental health issues and the importance of getting help.
  • This website of the American Psychiatric Association offers a broad array of information on topics related to mental health.
  • Helpguide: Website operated by a non-profit organization offers information and resources on a broad range of mental health topics.
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): An advocacy group for people living with mental illness and their loved ones. Good source of information and resources on mental health topics.
  • An information and support service using evidence based principles and technology to help teens and young adults facing tough times and struggling with mental health issues.
  • An online resource for college students with information about protecting your emotional health and what to do if you or friends are struggling with mental health issues.
  • Student Health 101