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Help for Victims: First Steps

The following is directed primarily to individuals who believe they have been the victims of sexual assault or violence. If you believe you have been the victim of other forms of sexual misconduct, many of the steps below may still apply to your situation.

  1. Find a safe location away from the perpetrator. If possible, ask a trusted friend to be with you for moral support.

  2. Remember that what happened was not your fault.

  3. Preserve all evidence of the attack or incident.
    • Do not bathe, wash your hands, brush your teeth, eat, or smoke.
    • If you are still in the location at which the crime occurred, do not clean or straighten up or remove anything.
    • Write down all the details you can recall about the attack and the perpetrator.
  4. Report the attack to law enforcement immediately (Frederick Emergency Communications, dial 911; Department of Campus Safety, dial "0" or ext. 3111, or 301-696-3111 from off-campus).
    • If you want more information, contact the National Sexual Assault Hotlines (800.656.HOPE or A counselor can help you understand the reporting process.
    • While it is preferable that the incident be reported to law enforcement, some victims choose not to share this information, and, by law, you are under no obligation to do so. You should know if you want the situation to remain confidential, it might not be possible if you report the incident to certain officials or file a formal complaint. If you do either of these things, it is possible that confidentiality will have to be breached in order to conduct an investigation and to assure the safety of the community.
    • You may want to report the incident to Hood College authorities (if you didn't call Campus Safety). The Department of Campus Safety can be reached 24 hours a day. You can also call the Executive Director of Human Resources (301-696-3556) or the Title IX Coordinator (also 301-696-3556).
    • If you choose not to report the incident to law enforcement or Hood College authorities, you may still contact the Health Center (301-696-3439) the Counseling Center (301-696-3440), The office of the Dean of the Chapel (301-696-3436), or the Heartly House Crisis Hotline (301-662-8800). All are legally able to maintain confidentiality.
  5. Seek medical care as soon as possible. Even if you do not have any visible physical injuries, you may be at risk of acquiring a sexually transmitted disease (women may also be at risk for pregnancy).
    • Frederick Memorial Hospital is equipped to collect forensic evidence.
    • Ask the health care professional to conduct a Sexual Assault Forensic Exam (SAFE).
    • If you suspect you have been drugged, request that a urine sample be collected to preserve evidence.
  6. Once you have gotten through these steps, you may be able to think more calmly about the incident, and then you should consider whether you wish to file a complaint against the alleged attacker through Hood's Prevention and Resolution of Discrimination, Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct Policy (55). The Title IX Coordinator or the Executive Director for Human Resources (301-696-3556) can help you to navigate that process.

Support/Resource Person

When you make contact with a College official (whether a confidential resource, or a person who is required to report certain information about the incident), you will be offered the opportunity to have a College-appointed resource person assist you in working through the situation.

As a victim, you are entitled to:

  • A resource person who can listen;
  • A resource person who can assist you in understanding and navigating the process;
  • A resource person who can help you understand how this may affect you and your family;
  • A resource person who can connect you with appropriate campus and off-campus resources.

Your support person may help in many ways, including:

  • He or she may attend meetings with you (such as investigative conversations, housing relocation discussions, resolution agreement discussions, grievance hearings, etc.) as a support person.
  • He or she can help you review and understand documents and materials from the investigation, the final report, and any sanctioning agreements, as requested.
  • He or she may provide you with general support. He or she may help you to manage any immediate or ongoing separation needs, as necessary.
  • He or she can provide information and referral to additional College or community resources for additional support.