Santa Clara University

Wellness Center

Steps to Take Should Sexual Assault or Rape Occur

What to do immediately 

  •  Go to a safe place.
  • Tell someone what has occurred. This is NOT a time to be alone.
  • Call the YWCA Rape Crisis Hotline at 408-287-3000. Counselors on the hot line are specifically trained to help rape victims and to offer support and information about legal, medical, and mental health resources.
  • Do what you can to preserve any evidence. Do not wash your face or hands, bathe, brush your teeth, drink, or eat, douche, or change clothes, if you can avoid it. If you must change your clothes, place each garment in a separate paper (not plastic) bag. You may not feel ready or able to make a decision about whether to report your rape, but if you preserve evidence now, you will have that option later.

  • It is best for any physical evidence to be collected immediately, ideally within the first 24 hours.

  • Get medical attention. You are the victim of an assault and should be examined by a doctor as soon as possible. You can call the police, and as a part of their investigation you will be examined by a physician. Or, call the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center at 408-885-5000 and ask to speak to the On-Call Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) Nurse Examiner for appropriate medical care.

  • If you don't want to call the police, call a friend to take you to a hospital or health center for referral. Campus Safety Services at 408-554-4441 can arrange for transportation at no cost; however, it is recommended that you consult with a Rape Crisis Counselor before seeking private medical treatment. If it is an emergency, dial 911 for the Santa Clara Police Department.

  • If you choose to contact Campus Safety Services or the Office of Student Life, you may request that a trained Campus Advocate be available to support you throughout the next few days. A number of faculty and staff members have volunteered to be available 24 hours a day. The Office of Student Life will get in touch with an available volunteer and ask that they make contact with the survivor.

What to do over the next few days

  • Take care of yourself. Seek out the support of family and friends whom you feel safe with. Don’t be afraid to ask them for things you need (i.e., someone to sleep in the room with you, someone to walk with at night, someone to call and talk with, etc).

  • Talk to a counselor who understands the physical and emotional reactions that can follow a trauma such as rape/sexual assault. Trying to deal with trauma on your own can be very difficult and often prolongs the healing process. The Cowell Center's Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) is located by the tennis courts, near the Malley Center and Leavey Center. Their phone number is 408-554-4501. Extra support at this time is very important.

  • Make decisions on whether to pursue the incident through the Santa Clara Police Department and/or the University judicial system. The University encourages survivors to report incidents of sexual misconduct. There are several reasons for this, including recovery, community safety, and accurate reporting of crime statistics.


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