Victims of sexual assault and abuse

Experiencing sexual or relationship violence is traumatic and can have long term effects. It is important to know that you are not alone in your experience. Whether you have experienced violence in the past, recently or are in a currently violent situation, we are here to support you in whatever way feels most comfortable to you. There are numerous options, including an anonymous phone call or online report; an individual meeting to discuss your experience; or help accessing other services, such as medical, legal, help with a change of living space, etc.

There is never an excuse for using force, intimidation, or drugs/alcohol to force someone to perform sexual acts of any kind. If you (or someone you know) have been the victim of sexual violence, on or off-campus, help is available, immediately and in the long-term. You are not alone – there are many sources of confidential help.

What is sexual violence?

Sexual violence is any kind of sexual contact against a person’s will and without consent. Consent, as defined by Missouri state law, may be expressed or implied, but is not given if the person is legally incompetent to authorize the conduct, and this incompetence is known to the perpetrator; if the perpetrator gets the victim to agree by using fear, force or deception; if the person is unable to make a decision to agree to sexual contact because of youth, intoxication, or mental illness. Sexual violence can happen to anyone, regardless of their sex, gender, race, class, age, size, appearance, sexual orientation or what they look like. They are violent crimes used to exert power, humiliate and control. Some common terms that fall under the umbrella of sexual violence include:

Sexual harassment

Sexual harassment is defined as any unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favor, or other unwelcome verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment includes but is not limited to situations where one person has authority over another. Sexual harassment can be verbal, visual, physical, or communicated electronically or in writing.

Sexual abuse

Any action performed by a person in order to feel sexually stimulated without the other person’s consent, such as watching, touching, sexually assaulting the victim, or speaking to the victim in a sexual nature.

Sexual assault

Any unwanted sexual contact, including intercourse, touching, or oral sexual stimulation that is performed without consent, often through the use or threat of force:

  • Rape. In Missouri, forcible rape is legally defined as “Sexual intercourse with another person without that other person’s consent and by the use of forcible compulsion.” “Forcible compulsion” has several definitions under Missouri state law, which include “physical force that overcomes reasonable resistance” or “a threat that places on in fear of death, serious physical injury, or kidnapping of himself or another, for example, an escort or a relative.”
  • Sodomy. In Missouri, all forced sexual contact involving anything other than penile/vaginal intercourse is considered sodomy. The legal definition is “deviate sexual intercourse with another person by the use of forcible compulsion.”
  • Incest. In Missouri, this is defined as any marriage, sexual intercourse or deviate sexual intercourse with a person who is related by blood or adoption or is a stepchild.
  • Molestation. A person commits the crime of child molestation if he or she subjects another person who is less than fourteen years of age to sexual contact.

Other terms that are commonly used include date rape, intimate partner rape, or acquaintance rape, which simply refer to the crime and the identified perpetrator.

What to do if you have been sexually assaulted

If you need immediate medical care or are in danger, please call (314) 362-HELP ( 4357) if you are on-campus, or 911 if you are off-campus.

  1. If possible, get to a safe place.
  2. Call someone who can help. Contact a friend, the police, or other campus or community agencies (see resource list).
  3. Call WU Security at (314) 362-4357 (on-campus) or 911 (off-campus) if you need assistance. Otherwise, you can contact Student Health Services (314) 362-3523,or Dr. Gladys Smith at or call at 314-273-2111 Monday – Friday 8:00am – 4:00pm
  4. Do not shower, drink, eat, brush your teeth, or change your clothes. These activities can destroy physical evidence that could be useful if you decide to prosecute. However, if you have already done so (which is a perfectly normal response), you should still seek medical care. These activities do not necessarily prevent the collection of evidence.
  5. Get medical attention. Barnes/Jewish Hospital have specially trained professionals who can take the best care of you during this time. Other area hospitals offer this service as well. Even if you feel anxious or uncomfortable, it is very important to receive medical assistance. Members of hospital staff are accustomed to dealing with sexual assault injuries, including injuries to the penis, the vagina, or the anus for all victims. Even if you don’t seem seriously hurt, you may have hidden internal injuries or sexually transmitted infections that need medical attention.
    It is recommended that you seek care at a comprehensive care facility, such as Barnes/ Jewish, that has a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) (a nurse who has been trained to give specialized medical care for a victim of sexual assault and to gather forensic evidence if desired) who can provide the best possible care and options to you. However, The Student Health Service will also offer professional and compassionate care, though they are not currently equipped to offer forensic examinations.
  6. Consider a forensic exam. A forensic exam is done only by an individual who has been specially trained to gather evidence. It involves a collection of important evidence including fluid samples, clothing, nail clippings, hair, pictures of injured areas, etc.
  7. Write down everything that you remember happening, with as much detail as possible. This can help you to cope with the situation, but may also be helpful in any legal action you might decide to take.
  8. Do not blame yourself. Being a victim of sexual assault is never your fault.