FAQs

Please see the information provided by the R.I. State-Wide Task Force on Adult Sexual Assault which covers a comprehensive list of FAQ’s as well as the information listed below.

What should I do if an assault has happened?

Call 911 or Public Safety at 401 454-6666. You are not alone. Public Safety will connect you with a support network and guide you through your options.

What are the options for ensuring the immediate physical safety of a victim of sexual assault and treat minor and serious injuries? 

Here’s the short answer (you’ll find more options and info under Resources). Most of our resources are available 24/7 as indicated below.

CONFIDENTIAL OFF CAMPUS OPTIONS AVAILABLE 24/7

  • Women + Infants Hospital | 401 421-4100 | Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) on-call
  • Miriam Hospital | 401 793-2500
  • Rhode Island Hospital | 401 444-4300
  • Day One Sexual Assault Resource Center | 800 494-8100

PRIVATE OPTIONS ON CAMPUS

  • RISD Public Safety | 401 454-6666 | Staff members in Public Safety and the Dean of Student Affairs Office, maintain professional discretion in dealing with any information related to a sexual assault. They can contact counselors who are available 24/7.
  • You can talk to your RA will contact an Area Coordinator, who is trained to respond to situations like this. The information will be kept as private as possible, but your RA is expected to bring in professionals to help.

LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT

  • Providence Police | emergency line | 401 272-1111

If I do make a complaint, will I have to face the person I’m reporting during the process?

We handle this on a case by case basis. If your case progresses to a Sexual Misconduct proceeding, provisions can be made to separate the complainant and respondent during the hearing. Processes outside the school, such as those in the criminal justice system, may require this. RISD will support and accompany you as these details are explained by outside authorities.

If I file a complaint, will I be required to participate in mediation with this person?

No. RISD’s process for investigating sexual assault, sexual violence, stalking and/or domestic or dating violence does not require mediation. RISD handles the investigation with each party separately.

What if I don’t want to make a report or trigger any action?

Reporting is your decision and we want you to do what is best. We encourage you to contact a Title IX Coordinator to file a report or pursue informal guidance. We want you to hear all of your support options available to you. Please keep in mind that although it can be emotionally difficult, filing a complaint with a Title IX Coordinator, Public Safety or the Providence Police can help prevent sexual misconduct from happening in the future. Filing a report can help with piece of mind, and also help the authorities to be prepared for or aware of repeat offenders. Deciding not to file a complaint might hinder RISD from taking appropriate action.

Please keep in mind that our faculty and staff are expected to refer sexual misconduct matters to a Title IX Coordinator or the Dean of Student Affairs so that students are aware of our many support options and RISD can assess any potential safety risk. This could result in an investigation because RISD has an obligation under law to make sure any such incident is addressed, and do our best to prevent it from happening again. With that said, you will be contacted before any official inquiry begins.

In the event that you do not file a report, please see the “Resources + Support” page for a listing of resources.

Why would you investigate if I don’t want you to?

Since sexual misconduct is a form of prohibited behavior, RISD has an obligation under law and policy to address it when it happens to a member of our community. We do allow students to offer input as to how they would like the situation handled. There are times when we need additional information and it prompts an investigation. We hope you understand that our ability to address such conduct helps to improve our campus climate overall and prevent future incidents of sexual misconduct.

How do I know if something should be reported? What if the situation is more ambiguous?

If you’re not sure, that’s OK; life is often not black and white. Even if you just want to talk, our Title IX Coordinators and staff in RISD Counseling + Psychological Services are available for you, and they can help you figure out what you should do.

If I know about an incident the victim doesn’t want reported, what should I do?

Ask us. An inquiry can be completely anonymously, by phone or in person. It will be a private conversation, and we will not pressure you to do any more than you are comfortable with.

Will my parents find out?

Not from us. We follow your lead when it comes to letting parents know, unless there is an imminent threat to your health or safety, in which case we would discuss all the options with you first. Of course, if you want us to, we are available to talk to your parents about anything that might be going on – but that is totally up to you.

What if I have class with the person who assaulted me?

While every case is different, we will work to help you eliminate or minimize contact with the respondant. When a situation is reported or being investigated, all parties are cautioned to avoid direct contact or risk adjudication.

There are many support measures that might be offered depending on the situation, which might include other housing or academic remedies. The Title IX Coordinators work with you to identify the best course of action.

In some cases, the respondant will be moved to a different residence hall or removed from a residence or campus pending the outcome of the case. Unless you’re notified that the respondant has been removed, you should be prepared for the possibility that you’ll see them on campus. Inform the Title IX Coordinator and/or the Dean of Student Affairs as soon as possible if the student has classes with you or lives in the same residence hall. In any situation, it is important for you to avoid direct contact with that person, and important for them to avoid contact with you.

Can I make a report about someone with whom I have been in a relationship?

Yes, you can make a report about anyone you believe has violated RISD’s policy on sexual misconduct, stalking or domestic/dating violence. Being in a relationship doesn’t change what’s considered a sexual offense. Even in a pre-existing relationship, consent is required for every action, every time. It’s important to report all incidents or egregious types of behavior, even if you’re unsure of whether or not a violation has been committed. Please contact a Title IX Coordinator to discuss it if you’re in this situation.

Medical Questions:

Does a victim have to go to the hospital? What are the options?

You may choose to go to the hospital or not. It’s totally your decision. The hospital is able to perform a forensic exam, offer STD/STI medication and pregnancy testing and/or give you options if you are at risk for pregnancy. We encourage you seek medical care within 72 hours, as many of the remedies are time sensitive. Please see “Resources + Support” for a list of local hospitals.

What does a forensic exam entail? And what is a rape kit?

At Women + Infants Hospital and Rhode Island Hospital, after a brief exam by the ER physician, a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) will document your account of the assault, perform necessary medical exams, tests or treatments and collect crucial, time-sensitive evidence (within 72 hours of the assault) using the Rhode Island Sexual Assault Evidence Collection Kit (known as the Rape Kit).

The SANE exam specifically documents and collects forensic evidence (photos, written documentation, specimen collection and evaluation for drug-facilitated sexual assault) and provides preventative treatment for STDs and HIV as well as emergency contraception. The SANE may also treat minor injuries.

The forensic exam usually takes 4–6 hours. You can have a friend stay with you throughout the exam, and you have the option of declining any portion of the exam or treatment. Nothing will be done without your consent.

At Women + Infants hospital, any sexual assault victim will also be offered support from a trained advocate at a local rape crisis center (Day One). The advocate and the SANE provide emotional support, crisis intervention and referrals for follow-up support, counseling and/or treatment.

Do the police need to be there when a forensic exam (Rape Kit) is performed?

No. The police are notified but you have the right to refuse to speak with detectives or report the crime. You are also not obligated to report the incident to the police in order to have evidence collected. If you decide to press charges, you still have the option of speaking with the police at a later date.

What is the timeline for evidence collection by a SANE or an emergency room physician?

Physical evidence collection (Rape Kit) by the SANE or ER physician should take place within 96 hours of the time of the sexual assault. In order to preserve evidence at the scene of the assault, leave any sheets, towels, etc. for collection by the police. The sooner this evidence is collected, the better.

How can a victim of a sexual assault get to the hospital?

How should a recent victim who has not yet gone to the hospital preserve evidence?

Don’t shower. It’s the first thing most victims want to do, and that’s understandable. But if you do, it will remove important evidence.

By going to a SANE emergency room, you can preserve evidence of the assault – even if you’re unsure whether you plan to press criminal charges.

If you decide to go to the ER, try to preserve any physical evidence. If possible, do not shower, bathe, go to the bathroom, remove any barrier contraceptive devices, douche, change clothing, eat, brush your teeth or use mouthwash.

If you are wearing the same clothes to the hospital that you were wearing during the sexual assault, you should bring a change of clothing. If you already changed clothing, you should place the clothing you were wearing at the time of the assault in a clean paper bag (grocery bag) or clean sheet (plastic bags render forensic evidence useless) and bring it to the hospital with you.

 

Have a question we didn’t cover? Please share any suggestions or additional questions you may have so that we can continue to help members of the RISD community access the most helpful information possible in the future.

 

Note: In these FAQs, we chose use the word “victim” rather than “survivor” because many victims, immediately following a sexual assault, may recognize that they were victimized, may feel like a victim, and may not yet have moved to survivor status.