Sexual Assault

INFORMATION AND RESOURCES FOR SURVIVORS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT AND FOR FRIENDS OF SURVIVORS

If you have experienced a sexual assault, confidential support is available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. We know that deciding to call us might not be an easy thing to do. We want you to know that we are here to support you. We collaborate with the Fairfield University community to advocate for compassionate and just treatment of survivors. Counselors in our Counseling and Psychological Services department are available to offer our supportive therapeutic services to you.

At Fairfield University, we are committed to providing a learning environment free of sexual misconduct. If you or a friend are a victim of sexual misconduct, please know that you are not alone, and it is not your fault. There are many resources available to you, both confidential and non-confidential.

Counseling and Psychological Services can be reached at (203) 254-4000, ext. 2146, or through Residence Life at (203) 254-4215 or through the Department of Public Safety at (203) 254-4090.

If you are in immediate danger, please call Public Safety at (203) 254-4090 or 9-1-1.
Public Safety can connect you with a University counselor 24/7

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What is sexual violence and sexual harassment?

Sexual violence, or sexual assault, is any sexual act that is perpetrated against someone’s will. This includes engaging in any sexual activity without effective consent, ranging from non-consensual sexual contact to non-consensual sexual intercourse. Consent cannot be obtained through the use of force, threat, or coercion, or from someone who is incapacitated—including through consumption of drugs or alcohol.

What constitutes sexual misconduct at Fairfield University encompasses a wide range of behaviors, including, but not limited to, harassment of a sexual nature, stalking, intimate partner violence, intimidation and sexual exploitation. The University prohibits all forms of sexual violence, sexual harassment, and sexual misconduct.

We ensure that:

  • Survivors are provided with clear information and support.
  • The accused are held accountable.
  • Prevention education is provided to all staff and the student body on an ongoing basis.
  • Professional staff treat complainants with dignity and respect, with the intent that re-victimization does not occur during the process.

Anyone can be a perpetrator. Statistics show that most victims are assaulted by someone they know, an acquaintance, a family member, a friend, a dating partner or a spouse. Studies have shown that there are some people who are more likely to be sexually aggressive than others.

There is no way to reduce your risk of sexual assault to zero, and even if you do not recognize warning signs, sexual assault is NOT YOUR FAULT. Perpetrators are responsible for their actions. You are not.

Know the Facts:

  • No one is ever to blame for being the victim of sexual misconduct. There is no mistake in judgment or "poor decision" that can make a person "deserve" to be victimized by another person.
  • Victims can be female or male and can identify as heterosexual, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and/or transgender. Perpetrators can be female or male and can identify as heterosexual, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and/or transgender.
  • Most victims are perpetrated against by someone they know and most sexual assaults are planned in some way by the perpetrator. Most perpetrators establish some level of trust and rapport with a victim before the assault.
  • Individuals who perpetrate sexual violence typically target a victim who they perceive has some vulnerability that they can exploit and that will make the victim less likely to report the assault.
  • Sexual violence is about the perpetrator asserting power and control over the victim, NOT about sexual attraction.

Watch out for people who:

  • Do not listen to you, ignore what you say, talk over you or pretend not to hear you. Such perpetrators generally have little respect for their victims and would be more likely to hear "no" as meaning "convince me."
  • Ignore your personal space boundaries, stand or walk too close, or touch you without permission.
  • Push you to drink beyond your tolerance level, or wait to make a sexual advance until you are extremely intoxicated. Alcohol is the #1 date rape drug.
  • Express anger or aggression frequently.
  • Use hostile or possessive language about their victims.
  • Do what they want regardless of what you want. A person may do this in little ways; for example, by making all the decisions about what you will both do.
  • Try to make you feel guilty, or accuse you of being "uptight" if you resist their sexual overtures.
  • Act excessively jealous or possessive.
  • Prevent you from seeing or talking to friends or family members. Keep you isolated and separated from your support network.
  • Drink heavily. A "mean drunk" can often get sexually aggressive, angry, or violent if s/he is rejected.

Medical Attention

The decision to go to the hospital is entirely yours. If you have been assaulted, either by force, coercion, or by a non-violent offense, seeking medical attention is recommended. You will be evaluated for risk of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infection. Prophylactic medication may be prescribed. An evidence collection kit examination is offered as part of the medical assessment in cases of sexual assault. Try not to bathe, shower, change or wash your clothes, eat, drink, smoke, gargle or urinate prior to the exam. However, some evidence collection may still proceed if you have done these things.

Even if you think there is no evidence from the assault, an evidence collection kit may discover something and can be administered up to 120 hours (five days) after the assault. A Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner will perform the procedure, and the exam will collect any evidence such as hair, skin cells, blood, or fluid that may remain on the body or clothing and assist in the identification or conviction of an offender.

A crisis counselor will meet you at the local hospital to support you throughout the process. The examination will not cost anything. Any expenses incurred are paid for by the State of Conn. through the Office of Victim Service Crime Victim Compensation.

If I suspect a “date rape” drug was used:
At the hospital there are tests that can detect the presence of a date rape drug in your blood and urine. Although these drugs leave your body quickly, tests can detect the drugs as much as 72 hours after they are ingested.

Rights as the complainant:

If you have filed a sexual misconduct compliant under Title IX, you have rights. The following rights are part of the University's policy and procedures.

As a complainant, you have a right to:

  • Free and confidential services through Counseling & Psychological Services
  • Respect and dignity throughout the process.
  • Reasonable measures of confidentiality and privacy.
  • Reasonable interim (pre-disciplinary hearing) corrective actions, which include but are not limited to: no-contact orders; on-campus housing changes; escorts; ensuring the complainant and accused do not attend the same classes or extra-curricular activities; counseling services; medical services; academic support services; academic accommodations, and/or changes in a victim’s transportation or working situation, etc.
  • Not be subjected to retaliation from others.
  • Be informed about University policies and the hearing process.
  • Be provided a written statement regarding the incident.
  • Request the assistance of an advisor who is a member of the University community, unless otherwise provided for and/or required by federal or state laws.
  • Review all applicable documents prior to the hearing.
  • Participate or decline participation in the hearing. (The disciplinary procedure will continue with or without your participation with the available information.)
  • Refrain from making self-incrimination statements.
  • Be notified in writing of the outcome of the hearing.
  • Request housing accommodations.
  • Appeal the hearings, decisions, and/or sanctions imposed.

Rights as the respondent:

If you have been accused of a violation of our sexual misconduct policy under Title IX, you have rights.

As a respondent you have the right to:

  • Free and confidential services through Counseling & Psychological Services.
  • Respect and dignity throughout the process.
  • Reasonable measures of confidentiality and privacy.
  • Reasonable interim (pre-disciplinary hearing) corrective actions, which include but are not limited to: no-contact orders; on-campus housing changes; escorts; ensuring the complainant and accused do not attend the same classes or extra-curricular activities; counseling services; medical services and academic support services; academic accommodations, and/or changes in a victim’s transportation or working situation, etc.
  • Not be subjected to retaliation from others.
  • Be informed about University policies and the hearing process.
  • Be provided a written statement regarding the incident.
  • Request the assistance of an advisor who is a member of the University community, unless otherwise provided for and/or required by federal or state laws.
  • Review all applicable documents prior to the hearing.
  • Participate or decline participation in the hearing. (The disciplinary procedure will continue with or without your participation with the available information.)
  • Refrain from making self-incrimination statements.
  • Be notified in writing of the outcome of the hearing.
  • Request housing accommodations.
  • Appeal the hearings, decisions, and/or sanctions imposed.

File a Report

If you are in immediate danger, please call Public Safety at (203) 254-4090 or 911 to seek safety or medical services. You will receive amnesty if you had been drinking underage.

Seeking help from Public Safety does not mean you are filing a report, although Public Safety is mandated through the Clery Act to file an anonymous report and notify the Title IX Compliance Coordinator.

Self-Report:

Interpersonal violence or sexual assault is more likely to occur by someone known to the student. If a student thinks he/she has experienced non-consensual sexual misconduct by force, coercion or inability to give consent, they should know that it is not their fault and there are many resources available, including filing a complaint. Students may feel pressure from mutual friends to not report or may have a fear of getting in trouble, but the University process is student-centered, offering many remedies (no-contact orders, safe housing, class changes) to prevent retaliation and recurrence.

To encourage victims to come forward with reports about sexual misconduct, students will not be sanctioned for revealing a violation in good faith—such as underage drinking—in the process of reporting a sexual violence claim.

Victims of sexual misconduct can file a standard, formal incident report with the Department of Public Safety at any time. An incident report will include, among other things, the name of the complainant and the name of the accused, if known. Upon the filing of an Incident Report, the Department of Public Safety will act as first responder and refer the matter to the Title IX Compliance Coordinator for investigation. Public Safety will also determine whether law enforcement or other authorities should be notified.

Direct reporting can be important for the safety of the entire University community. Individuals have the right to report sexual misconduct to Public Safety without further participation in the investigatory process. An individual can choose to initiate a criminal complaint through law enforcement and/or initiate a Title IX Sexual Misconduct Complaint with a Title IX Compliance Coordinator. Individuals should understand, however, that by choosing to not participate in the University’s disciplinary process, the University’s response to the incident may be limited.

Anonymous Report:

Reports of sexual misconduct can also be made anonymously online with the Department of Public Safety, meaning that the report does not contain the name of the complainant or the accused. An anonymous report will be kept on file and recorded with Public Safety and recorded for purposes of the Jeanne Clery reporting disclosure requirements. Anonymous reports allow the University to track reported incidents of sexual misconduct and to provide the complainant with information about options and resources available to her/him. An anonymous report does not constitute a formal Incident Report, a Police Report, or a Title IX Sexual Misconduct Complaint.

Victims of sexual misconduct are also encouraged to contact the Fairfield Police Department directly by calling 911. Filing a criminal report with the Police Department is different from filing an incident report with the Department of Public Safety. If a student files a criminal report with the Police Department, the police will determine if a criminal investigation will occur and if the case will be referred for prosecution.

Click here to File an anonymous report.

Peer Report:

Peers of victims of sexual misconduct can file an incident report or anonymous report with the Department of Public Safety on someone’s behalf. If a peer has experienced sexual violence, students have many options:

  • provide support by encouraging them to seek help with the available resources on and off campus
  • reinforce that it is not their fault; validate their feelings; do not investigate their story
  • let them know you are there for them and are receptive to what they are saying

As a peer, the student may experience secondary trauma. There are many resources available through Counseling and Psychological Services here on campus (ext. 2146) and the Center for Family Justice (203) 333-2233.

TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS - If something doesn’t feel right, speak up and seek resources. If you feel unsafe in any situation, go with your gut and call DPS at (203) 254-4090.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who can I talk to if I think I have experienced sexual misconduct?
(Such as sexual assault, gender-based harassment, stalking, intimate partner violence, sexual harassment)

Most sexual assaults are committed by someone the survivor knows. Studies show that approximately 80% of women reporting sexual assaults knew their accused. If you think you have experienced non-consensual sexual misconduct, whether by force, coercion, or inability to give consent, please know that it is not your fault and there are resources available.

If you are in immediate danger, call Public Safety at (203) 254-4090 or 911. Public Safety can connect you with a University Counselor 24/7. You can contact Counseling and Psychological Services directly at (203) 254-4000, ext. 2146, during business hours. To learn more about medical, reporting, and safety options, you can also call the confidential hotline at the Center for Family Justice (203) 333-2233.

Note: Students under the age of 21 who have been drinking will receive amnesty when seeking help after an assault. Students who are undocumented may seek services and apply for amnesty through the U-Visa.

What if the offender is a friend or classmate?
Based on statistics, most sexual assaults are committed by someone you met in class, at a party or through a friend. You may feel pressured from mutual friends to not file a report or you might fear getting the accused in trouble. However, sexual assault is not only against University policy but is also a crime.

If I am a survivor of intimate partner violence or sexual assault, can I call the police?
Yes. You can call the local police where your assault occurred. In the town of Fairfield, you can call Fairfield Police (203-254-4800) or State Police. Public Safety can help you contact the appropriate agency. If the police are notified, it is up to you whether to proceed with a complaint or an investigation. Call the Fairfield Police Department Detective Bureau at (203) 254-4840 if you want to talk to someone unofficially.

How can I help as a friend?
If your friend shares with you that he/she has survived a sexual assault, it’s important to keep this information private and refer them to get help immediately. You can ask trained Resident Assistants, Counseling & Psychological Services (confidential), or Residential Assistants or the Office of the Dean of Students to assist you with the referral process. They can help you talk to your friend about all of the options and resources available, both at Fairfield University and in the greater community.

As a friend you may experience secondary trauma. There are resources available for you through Counseling & Psychological Services (ext. 2146) and The Center for Family Justice Hotline (203-333-2233). Know that it is the fault of the offender, not your friend.

If your presence is supportive to the survivor you are welcome to accompany them when seeking counseling services, medical attention or filing a report.

Support your friend by validating his/her feelings about the experience. Do not question if the survivor was actually assaulted. Stay attuned to the survivor’s attitude and don’t assume or dictate how she or he must feel.

What do I do if I think my friend is in an intimate partner relationship and has experienced domestic violence?
Seek advice from Counseling & Psychological Services (ext. 2146) or from The Center for Family Justice Domestic Violence Hotline (203-384-9559). Public Safety can offer help if you or your friend is in immediate danger.

What to look out for:

  • Signs of physical violence such as bruising or bite marks
  • Strong sense of jealousy by the offender
  • Your friend may feel afraid or isolated

Support your friend by encouraging him/her to seek help and to participate in activities outside of the relationship. Let them know that you will be there for them no matter what.

If I make a report or seek help, is it confidential?
A list of confidential and non-confidential resources and services is listed below, and is located on this website under Resources. From counseling to assistance on how to file a report, there are many resources available to our students. Those include:

CONFIDENTIAL RESOURCES: INCIDENT IS REPORTED TO CAMPUS OFFICIAL GOVERNED BY CONFIDENTIALITY

On-Campus

Counseling and Psychological Services, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2146

Student Health Center, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2241

Clergy, (203) 254-4000, ext. 3405

Confidential Advisor Mary Ellen Staudt Spitzfaden, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2146

Off-Campus

The Center for Family Justice,
(203) 333-2233 (sexual assault hotline)
(203) 384-9559 (domestic violence hotline)

Triangle Community Center, (203) 329-2929

Bridgeport Hospital, (203) 384-3566

Connecticut Office of the Complainant Advocate, (860) 550-6632

PRIVATE/NON-CONFIDENTIAL RESOURCES: INCIDENT IS REPORTED TO DPS OR CAMPUS OFFICIAL AND IS NOT GOVERNED BY CONFIDENTIALITY

On-Campus

Public Safety, (203) 254-4090

Title IX Compliance Coordinator Christine Brown, (203) 254-4000, ext. 3329

Title IX Compliance Investigator Will Johnson, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2890

Office of the Dean of Students, (203) 254-4211 Campus Ministry, (203) 254-4000, ext. 3405

Office of Residence Life, (203) 254-4215

Resident Assistant (RA) in residence halls

Off-Campus

Fairfield Police Department, 911 or (203) 254-4800

If you wish to file a report or seek help from Public Safety, the Police, or Resident Assistant, the disclosure will be private and confidential between all necessary professional personnel such as the Title IX Coordinator, Dean of Students, and other necessary participants to the code of conduct process. If at any point you wish to withdraw a complaint and maintain confidentiality, you can. The University has an obligation to continue to investigate to determine patterns and larger risks within the community. If there appears to be a threat to campus, a campus-wide notification will be made regarding an incident of sexual or domestic violence. All measures will be taken to maintain confidentiality. In some cases when incidents of domestic violence, violence, threats of violence, or stalking have been reported to Fairfield Police, they have to act to ensure the safety of the victim.

Federal and state laws protect the identity of survivors of sexual assault. Your name will not be released to the media. Please notify the Title IX Coordinator or any other professional staff if you feel your confidentiality and privacy has been compromised.

What will happen if I go to Public Safety?
Public Safety can help if you are in immediate danger or if you want to file a report. You may request to meet with an individual who shares the same gender identity as you.

If you file a report at Public Safety, you are welcome to have a friend or trained crisis counselor present. Public Safety will notify Fairfield Police if a report is filed. Fairfield Police will contact the survivor to talk about options outside of the University process. You have the authority to withdraw a complaint at any time.

Public safety can also connect you with a counselor from Counseling & Psychological Services 24/7.

What if I was assaulted days ago and didn’t tell anyone?
You can report the assault at any time to Public Safety or seek services through confidential sources.

What will happen at court?
Arrests are made when “probable cause” is established to show that the incident happened in the manner you have reported. This is separate from the University process, where it must be shown that it is “more likely than not” the incident occurred.

As a complainant, what else can I expect?
A full description of the University’s policies and processes for dealing with sexual assault and sexual misconduct can be found in the Student Handbook at www.fairfield.edu/studenthandbook.

If reasonably available, complainants will be afforded the opportunity to request immediate on-campus housing relocation, transfer of classes, or other steps to prevent unnecessary or unwanted contact or proximity to an alleged assailant. The provision of such accommodations does not constitute a determination of responsibility, but rather is offered to assist the complainant.

Information for Parents about Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment on Campus

Dear Parents and Guardians:

At Fairfield University, we take the issue of sexual violence and sexual harassment seriously and strive to provide a safe environment where your student can live and work free from exploitation and discrimination based on gender.

We believe it is important for you, as parents and guardians, to better understand what sexual violence is and what the University is doing to prevent and respond to it. Although women are disproportionately affected, both men and women can be victims of this crime. The University offers education, prevention programs, and resources for students.

We encourage you to engage in dialogues about this issue with your son or daughter and familiarize yourself with our comprehensive resources to build awareness and offer support on the issue of sexual violence and harassment.

Please refer to and share the link (fairfield.edu/survivor) with your son or daughter.

If your son or daughter reports that she or he is a victim of sexual violence or harassment:

Safety
Is your son or daughter safe? Call (203) 254-4090 (Dept of Public Safety) for assistance if they are in need of medical care.

Resources
From counseling to assistance on how to file a report, there are many resources available to our students. Those include:

On-Campus

Counseling and Psychological Services, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2146

Student Health Center, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2241

Clergy, (203) 254-4000, ext. 3405

Confidential Advisor Mary Ellen Staudt Spitzfaden, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2146

Off-Campus

The Center for Family Justice,
(203) 333-2233 (sexual assault hotline)
(203) 384-9559 (domestic violence hotline)

Triangle Community Center, (203) 329-2929

Bridgeport Hospital, (203) 384-3566

Connecticut Office of the Complainant Advocate, (860) 550-6632

PRIVATE/NON-CONFIDENTIAL RESOURCES: INCIDENT IS REPORTED TO DPS OR CAMPUS OFFICIAL AND IS NOT GOVERNED BY CONFIDENTIALITY

On-Campus Resources:

Public Safety, (203) 254-4090

Title IX Compliance Coordinator Christine Brown, (203) 254-4000, ext. 3329

Title IX Compliance Investigator Will Johnson, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2890

Office of the Dean of Students, (203) 254-4211 Campus Ministry, (203) 254-4000, ext. 3405

Office of Residence Life, (203) 254-4215

Resident Assistant (RA) in residence halls

Off-Campus Resources:

Fairfield Police Department, 911 or (203) 254-4800

Please see our sexual misconduct policy link for specific details on incident reporting, investigations and disciplinary proceedings.

Sexual Misconduct Policy and Resources

Sexual Assault Brochure

COUNSELING & PSYCHOLOGICAL SERVICES

We are here at Counseling & Psychological Services to support you. We can be reached at (203) 254-4000, ext. 2146, through Residence Life at (203) 254-4215 or through the Department of Public Safety at (203) 254-4090, twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual assault, consider making an appointment to speak with a counselor at CAPS.

Additional Information on Sexual Assault

Center for Women and Families
Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services, Inc.
National Sexual Assault Hotline (RAINN)
Office on Violence Against Women
The National Women's Health Information Center
Men Against Violence Against Women
Men Can Stop Rape
Stalking Resource Center

Information on Sexual Harassment
Call the Office of the Dean of Students (203) 254-4000 ext. 4211 or Christine Brown Title IX Coordinator at (203) 254-4000 ext. 3329 for more information.

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