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Sexual Assault

Sexual Assault | Title IX | Prevention | If You've Been Assaulted | Resources |
University Sanctions | Reporting to the Police



Sexual Assault is the commission of an unwanted sexual act, whether by an acquaintance or by a stranger, that occurs without indication of consent of both individuals, or that occurs under threat or coercion. Sexual assault can occur either forcibly and / or against a person's will, or when a person is incapable of giving consent. A person is legally incapable of giving consent if under 18 years of age; if intoxicated by drugs and/or alcohol; if developmentally disabled; or if temporarily or permanently mentally or physically unable to do so.

Anyone can be the target of sexual assault, regardless of age, gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, sexual history, or social class. There is no stereotypical victim or rapist. Acquaintances (people who know each other in some way) are involved in 67% rapes in America.1 A Department of Justice study indicates that a woman has between a 20 and 25% chance of being sexually assaulted during her years at college.2

To find out more information on domestic violence and local resources, please click here.
Domestic violence is a crime.

* To visit the Stanford University website on Sexual Violence & Relationship Abuse Prevention & Support, please click on the image below. *

Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex (gender) in educational programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance. For a copy of the Title IX policy, click here: Title IX.
You may also refer to the Title IX FAQ's.
Stanford University is committed to providing an environment free from discrimination on the basis of gender.


Prevention - Evaluate and Communicate Your Intentions

It is important that you decide for yourself what you want to happen in intimate situations. Both women and men should consider the following:
  • Pay close attention to what is happening around you. Clearly communicate your desires, limits, and intentions to your date, partner, or friend.
  • Intercourse constitutes rape when a person is under the influence of any intoxicating or controlled substance and is thereby prevented from giving informed consent. Be aware that alcohol and other drugs can impair your judgment, and make you slow or unable to react to unwanted sexual contact or escape from a dangerous situation.
  • California law defines consent as "positive cooperation in an act or attitude pursuant to an exercise of free will."
  • Previous sexual contact, regardless of frequency, does not constitute consent for sexual activity in the present or future. A current or previous dating relationship does not constitute the basis for implied consent either.
  • Do not assume that sexual intercourse is permissible if a person is dressed in a certain way.
  • Being turned down for sexual activity is not necessarily a personal rejection.
  • "No" means "No."

Prevention - Education

  • Sexual Assault and Relationship Abuse (SARA) office (650-725-1056) works to prevent sexual violence and harassment through education, awareness, and skill building. Programs include educational seminars, resource information and referral, and the new student orientation theatrical production, Real World: Stanford.
  • The Health Library at the Vaden Health Center (650-725-3190) is a comprehensive resource center that contains journals, books, and videos on a wide range of contemporary college health issues including sexual assault. The library is located on the 2nd floor of Vaden at the Health Promotion Services reception area. Thee library is open Monday to Friday 8:30 am to 5 pm.
  • Self-Defense Workshops - Highly trained Stanford students teach self-defense classes to members of the Stanford community through the Stanford Martial Arts Program (SMAP). Students learn basic selfdefense techniques, strategies and tips for sexual assault prevention at SMAP workshops. Schedule a workshop for your dorm or student group. Call (650) 725-3190 or send an email message to smap@stanford.edu.
  • Stanford Health Improvement Program (HIP) (650-723-9649) - At various times throughout the calendar year, HIP offers classes and seminars for university employees in personal safety and self-defense.
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If You Have Been Sexually Assaulted

The first priority is your immediate safety. Don't be afraid to seek medical attention or ask for help. You have options. You are strongly encouraged to seek professional assistance and guidance.

If You Need Medical Attention
  • For life threatening conditions,
    • call 911 (or from a campus phone, call 9-911) - or -
    • Go to the Stanford Medical Center Emergency Department, - or -
    • Go to the nearest hospital Emergency Department.
  • Students and their spouses/domestic partners may receive treatment for less serious injuries at:
    • Vaden Health Center (650-723-4841), - or -
    • Stanford Medical Center Emergency Department (650-723-5111).
      - Both locations provide pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases testing. Planned Parenthood in Mountain View (650-948-0807) also provides STD and pregnancy testing.
  • Faculty and staff should consult their primary care physicians or go to the nearest hospital Emergency Department.

    Please Note: Medical Personnel are required by law to make a report to the appropriate law enforcement agency when treating injuries resulting from any violent criminal act. Seeking medical treatment does not obligate the injured person to report sexual assault or file charges.

If You Aren't Sure What to Do - Explore Your Options
A person who has experienced a sexual assault is encouraged to obtain information, support and counseling. Counselors at a variety of agencies, both on and off campus, can help a person decide which steps to take such as: seeking medical attention, preserving evidence, obtaining counseling, or reporting to the police. Remember -- you are not to blame. No one deserves to be assaulted.

The University will make every effort reasonably possible to preserve an individual’s privacy and protect the confidentiality of information. The degree to which confidentiality can be protected depends upon the professional role of the person being consulted. An individual may speak confidentially with certain persons in legally protected roles. These confidential resources include: counselors at the YWCA Sexual Assault Center at Stanford, the Help Center, Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), medical clinicians and clergy. State law permits law enforcement authorities to keep confidential the identity of a person officially reporting a sexual assault. The Stanford Department of Public Safety maintains such confidentiality.

  • Students, faculty and staff may consult the following confidential resources:
    • The YWCA Rape Crisis Hotline (725-9955)
      • When you call the hotline, you will be put in contact with professionally trained and certified advocates from the YWCA Sexual Assault Center. The 24-hour hotline provides access to emergency assistance, confidential counseling, information and referrals.
      • The YWCA helps coordinate access to a wide range of campus services related to the aftermath of an assault, such as medical assistance, law enforcement, legal and judicial services, and emotional/spiritual support.
    • Office of Religious Life (723-1762)
    • University Ombudsperson (723-3682)
      • Stanford's Ombudsperson can assist students, staff, and faculty with information and assessment of options regarding employment, housing, and other University needs following an incident.
  • Students may consult the following confidential resources:
  • Faculty and staff may consult the following confidential resources:
  • Other Campus Resources
    • Office of Community Standards (650-725-2485)
      • This office can help you explore potential university judicial disciplinary actions that could follow a sexual assault incident in compliance with the Stanford Judicial Charter, which governs internal disciplinary sanctions and procedures.
    • Residential Education (650-725-2800)
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University Sanctions Against Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Offenders

  • For students, an incident of sexual assault could be a violation of the Fundamental Standard. The process and procedures governing student disciplinary cases are found in the Student Judicial Charter of 1997. The Office of Community Standards (OCS) will investigate formal complaints of sexual assault and sexual misconduct. The OCS will file disciplinary charges if evidence supports the allegation. For violations that have been proved, possible sanctions range from censure to expulsion from the University. Furthermore, after an alleged sex offense has occurred, Stanford will change a survivor's academic and living situation if he or she requests it and the request can be reasonably accommodated. The accuser and the accused are entitled to reasonable process, including the right to be accompanied by a person of his or her choice at all stages of the disciplinary process and the right to the same information regarding the outcome of the disciplinary proceedings.
  • For Stanford University faculty and staff, possible sanctions for proved violations range from censure to dismissal from the University.
  • In some cases, sexual assault also may constitute sexual harassment. See Administrative Guide Memo 2.2.4 for the procedures to follow to make a complaint of sexual harassment. For more information, please refer to the Stanford University Sexual Harassment Homepage.
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Reporting a Sexual Assault to the Police

The Stanford Department of Public Safety encourages people to report sexual assaults to the police. Reporting a sexual assault to the police may seem intimidating, but you don't need to feel scared or embarrassed. Explore your options with someone from the YWCA before contacting the police. Bring a friend or advocate with you when you speak with the police if that provides comfort. Reporting a crime can help you regain a sense of personal power and control.

  • For sexual assault that occurs on the Stanford campus, contact the Stanford Police at 723-9633 or 9-911 from an on-campus phone.
  • For an off-campus incident, call 911 or the local police department:
    Palo Alto: (650) 470-1258 East Palo Alto: (650) 321-1112
    Los Altos: (650) 947-2779 Los Altos Hills: (408) 299-3233
    Menlo Park: (650) 325-4424 Millbrae: (650) 697-1212
    Mountain View: (650) 903-6922 Redwood City: (650) 369-3333
    San Carlos: (650) 592-2222 San Francisco: (415) 553-8090
  • If you believe you have been the victim of a sexual assault on campus, the Stanford Department of Public Safety will guarantee the following:
    • We will meet with you privately, at a time and place of your choice, to take your report.
    • We will treat you with courtesy, sensitivity, dignity, understanding, and professionalism.
    • Our Deputies will not prejudge you, and you will not be blamed for what occurred.
    • We will assist you in arranging for any necessary hospital treatment or other medical needs. We will also connect you with the people who can assist you in locating emergency housing if needed.
    • We will offer you the services of a YWCA Advocate trained in sexual assault. You may have your advocate present at any stage during the process.
    • We will fully investigate your case. You will be kept up-to-date on the progress of the investigation and/or prosecution.
    • We will assist you in contacting counseling and other available resources.
    • We will continue to be available to answer your questions, to explain the system and process involved (prosecutor, courts, etc.) and to be a listening ear if you wish.
    • We will consider your case seriously, regardless of your gender or the gender or status of the suspect.
What Happens When You Involve the Police
  • When you report a sexual assault by calling 911 or a non-emergency phone number for the police, a deputy will be dispatched to the location where you want to meet. You may request to speak with a male or female deputy and your request will be accommodated whenever possible.
  • If the assault was recent, do not wash, shower, douche, or change (destroy or clean) the clothes you were wearing at the time of the assault. Not washing or changing clothes is important in order to preserve evidence.
  • The deputy will take a basic statement from you in order to ascertain basic facts of your case.
    • You do not have to reveal the name of your assailant, if known, to the police.
    • If you share the name of the alleged assailant, the police will contact the person for his/her statement and possibly to collect evidence.
    • Some victims of sexual assault are not certain if they want to pursue criminal charges or not. By not revealing the name or identifying information about the alleged perpetrator, the police will not be able to conduct a full criminal investigation, which enables the victim/survivor to manage the timing of the investigation.
    • The tradeoff of not revealing the name of the alleged perpetrator is that the collection of evidence could be compromised. The potential loss of evidence is often less important to the victim of a sexual assault compared to the desire to retain a feeling of control about the course of the police investigation.
  • If your assault occurred within the last 72 hours, the officer will encourage you to have a medicallegal exam performed by a trained nurse at the Santa Clara County Valley Medical Center in San Jose. Staff at the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center are specially trained and prepared to collect such evidence in a sensitive manner. The deputy will accompany you to the hospital. You may bring a friend, family member or other designated person with you as well. The police department pays for the cost of the exam.
  • A detective will be assigned to further investigate the criminal allegations and explain the legal process to you.
  • Questions about evidence collection can be directed to The YWCA Sexual Assault Center at Stanford (725-9955). You can also make direct contact with the SCVMC Sexual Assault Response Team Nurse (408-885-5000) or the Mid-Peninsula Rape Crisis Center (493-7273 or 493-RAPE).

1. 2004 National Crime Victimization Survey
2. BS Fisher et al., 2000, The Sexual Victimization of College Women


This Sexual Assault Section was written in compliance with the 1992 Higher Education Amendments, which has mandated requirements for preventing, reporting, and investigating sex offenses that occur on campus. Portions of this section were taken from Administrative Guide Memo 23.3 Sexual Assault.


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