What is Sexual Assault?
Sexual assault refers to physical sexual acts perpetrated against a person’s will or where a person is incapable of giving consent due to the victim’s use of drugs or alcohol or other incapacity, such as being a minor or having an intellectual or other disability. Students must have affirmative consent before engaging in any sexual activity.
Affirmative consent is a knowing, voluntary, and mutual decision among all participants to engage in sexual activity. Consent can be given by words or actions, as long as those words or actions create clear permission regarding willingness to engage in the sexual activity. Silence or lack of resistance, in and of itself, does not demonstrate consent. The definition of consent does not vary based upon a participant’s sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. While not required by state or federal law, Canisius strongly recommends that students ask for and receive verbal consent before engaging in sexual activity. In addition,
- Consent to any sexual act or prior consensual sexual activity between or with any party does not necessarily constitute consent to any other sexual act.
- Consent is required regardless of whether the person initiating the act is under the influence of drugs
- Consent may be initially given but withdrawn at any time.
- Consent cannot be given when a person is incapacitated, which occurs when an individual lacks the ability to knowingly choose to participate in sexual activity.
*Incapacitation may be caused by the lack of consciousness or being asleep, being involuntarily restrained, or if an individual otherwise cannot consent. Depending on the degree of intoxication, someone who is under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or other intoxicants may be incapacitated and therefore unable to consent.
5. Consent cannot be given when it is the result of any coercion, intimidation, force, or threat of harm. 6. When consent is withdrawn or can no longer be given, sexual activity must stop.
Sexual assault can happen to anyone regardless of their gender, race, class, age, appearance, or sexual orientation. Approximately 10% of all sexual assault victims are male.
Some examples of Sexual Assault
- A date insists that you engage in sexual activity, even though you have said you do not want to.
- Your significant other forces you to have sex; a current or previous dating or marital relationship does not constitute consent.
- Someone gets you drunk or drugs you in order to engage in sexual activity with you.
What do I do if I am Sexually Assaulted?
- Get to a safe place and call someone you trust, such as a friend, relative, or Public Safety (716) 888-2330 or Local Law Enforcement (911).
- Get medical attention immediately. In addition to treating injuries, a prompt medical examination will test for pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. You do not have to press charges if you seek medical attention, however, should you decide to proceed with legal matters a medical examination can secure valuable evidence that can be used later should you wish to have the perpetrator prosecuted. If requested, someone will accompany you to the hospital.
- Preserve evidence. You should not drink, bathe, douche, brush teeth, change clothing or comb hair. It is only natural to want to do those things, but doing so may destroy evidence. You do not have to decide if you want to prosecute right away, but preserving the evidence helps if you decide to prosecute at a later date.
- Document the incident. As soon as possible you should write down every detail of the incident, as time passes you may recall additional details, be sure to document them as well.
- Get professional help and support. Regardless of whether the assault is reported, it is often helpful to seek support for a traumatic experience:
- Counseling Center 716-888-2620
- Campus Ministry 716-888-2420
- Crisis Services of Erie County 716-834-3131
What are my options when reporting a Sexual Assault?
There are options for reporting a sexual assault, and your right to make choices will be respected. College staff will neither coerce you to report a sexual assault, nor prevent or discourage you from reporting a sexual assault. You have the opportunity to pursue all legal and/or disciplinary remedies without academic penalty by the College.
- Judicial Process – External
You may file a report with the local police. The police and the District Attorney’s Office will handle the legal proceedings. You may reach the local police at 911 or Buffalo Police Sex Offence Unit at 716-851-4494.
- Judicial Process – Internal
If the perpetrator is a member of the Canisius College Community, you also have the option to file a report through the College disciplinary system. Any campus proceeding will be handled with sensitivity and with respect for privacy. Your report may be filed with Public Safety or the Title IX Coordinator. All reports will be investigated and individuals found to be in violation of the college policy will face a variety of sanctions. For more information or clarification about this process please contact the Counseling Center or the Title IX Coordinator nbsp; Please note that the Title IX Coordinator will respect privacy but cannot guarantee confidentiality.
What on-campus resources are available to help me?
Sexual Assault Liaison
Eileen Niland, MS, LMHC, NCC
Counseling Center, Bosch 105
Bosch Hall 105
Office of Residence Life
Dugan Hall (tunnel level)
What are some of the community resources available?
(716) 834-3131 (24-Hour Emergency Mental Health Services)
- Crisis Services is staffed 24 hours a day by trained volunteers who are able to connect with professional counselors for emergency outreach. Crisis services will send a counselor to meet you in the emergency room.
Local Hospital Emergency Departments
How do I help a friend who has been Sexually Assaulted?
- Listen and believe them. Make sure they feel supported and in control as much as possible.
- Encourage them to seek medical attention and support, but remember that it is their decision.
- Assure them that it was not their fault.
- Provide comfort and safety. Make sure you are there for them. Ask them what you can do to be helpful.
- Keep all conversations private. Build a trusting relationship.
- Be patient. Remember that healing from any type of trauma takes time.
- Seek help for yourself. It may be overwhelming to deal with your own feelings or response in addition to your friend’s. Talk to someone else about this.
How can I reduce my risk of becoming a victim of date or acquaintance rape?
While you can never completely protect yourself from sexual assault, there are some things you can do to help reduce your risk of being assaulted.
- Be assertive. Communicate your limits clearly. Be direct and firm.
- Attend social gatherings with friends you trust. Watch out for one another. Arrive together, check-in with each other, and leave together.
- Trust your instincts. If you feel unsafe in any situation, go with your gut.
- Don’t leave your drink unattended.
- Don’t accept drinks from people you don’t know.
- If you suspect you or your friend has been drugged, get medical treatment immediately.