Students


You have the right to an education free from sexual assault.

If you haven't already, add your name to the movement supporting survivors and inviting shared r....
If you haven't already, add your name to the movement supporting survivors and inviting shared responsibility to ensure every student receives an education free from sexual assault. #IHaveTheRightTo
...
Earlier this week, we shared our new site. Today, we're sharing what it's all for - creating an ....
Earlier this week, we shared our new site. Today, we're sharing what it's all for - creating an ecosystem of respect and support for students and survivors of sexual assault.
We're committed to this ...
Thanks to all who signed the pledge to help us create a future where every student receives an e....
Thanks to all who signed the pledge to help us create a future where every student receives an education free from sexual assault.
The next step? Share with ten of your friends! 😃🙌
Link to pledge i ...
Yes! Two big surprises for you in one day! When you go to our new website, please sign the pledg....
Yes! Two big surprises for you in one day! When you go to our new website, please sign the pledge and join I Have The Right To in leading a nationwide commitment to ensure all students receive an educ ...
It's the day we've all been waiting for! Check out the new space we have built for students, par....
It's the day we've all been waiting for! Check out the new space we have built for students, parents, and educators: the new I Have The Right To website. While you're there, sign the I Have The Right ...

Quick Facts About Sexual Assault That Every Student Should Know

The number of students affected by sexual violence is staggering.

If You Are A Survivor,

Know You Are Not Alone

To teen survivors of sexual violence: you are not alone. Your sexual assault was not your fault. You deserve love, compassion, and support. Read on for a few actions to consider post-assault. Whatever you do, remember that the decision of what to do after a sexual assault is yours to make. You do not need to explain or justify your decision to anyone.
Here are additional FAQs that may be on your mind, too.
WAS I RAPED?

First, know that this question is normal. Despite popular belief, most sexual assaults occur between people who know of each other.

Second, while state laws vary, the short answer is that rape occurs if you do not consent to ANY part of a sexual act. You cannot consent to sexual activity if you are intoxicated or under the influence of drugs, or if you are under the age of consent in your state. (However, a perpetrator can still perpetrate if they are under the influence.) Your consent can be withdrawn at any time, meaning that you can consent to certain sex acts (like kissing, undressing, or touching) but not consent to others (fondling, penetration).

WHAT IS CONSENT AND HOW DO I KNOW IF SOMEONE HAS VIOLATED IT?

Consent is an agreement between participants to engage in any form of sexual activity. It goes further. According to the Consent Awareness Network, consent must be a freely given, knowledgeable, and informed agreement without force, fear, or fraud. Consent can be withdrawn at any time. Individuals who are under the age of consent, under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or unconscious cannot legally give consent. Further, the absence of a “no” does not equal a “yes,” and consent by someone’s body language or their dress or state of dress cannot be taken as consent.

Consent should be a continuous dialogue between participants to ensure their experience is positive and safe.

WHAT IS COERCION? HOW COULD THIS PLAY A ROLE IN MY ASSAULT?

Sexual coercion is unwanted sexual activity that happens when someone is pressured, tricked, threatened, or forced in a nonphysical way. A partner using coercion can make you think you owe sex to them. Common scenarios include someone who wears their partner down by repeatedly asking for sex, who lies to their partner to trick them into having sex, or who threatens to end a relationship or spread rumors if their partner doesn’t have sex with them. Another common scenario of coercion is when an authority figure (like an older student, relative, friend, teacher, coach, counselor, boss, or professor) takes advantage of a power imbalance or uses their authority to pressure someone into having sex.

Because there is so little public knowledge about sexual coercion, many women who have been sexually coerced are not aware that what happened to them qualifies as sexual assault and may instead blame themselves for their trauma. If you have said “yes” when you didn’t want to, know that you may have been sexually coerced and that what happened is considered an assault. You are not at fault.

I AM CONFUSED ABOUT HOW I ACTED WHEN I WAS ASSAULTED. WHAT SHOULD I KNOW?

There is no correct response to being sexually assaulted. In fact, our bodies are wired to respond to trauma in ways we may not expect. Learning more about the body’s response to stress may help you process what happened

SHOULD I TELL SOMEONE WHAT HAPPENED TO ME?

You should absolutely seek support from someone you can count on, those closest to you, and at least one adult that you trust. You should understand that some people (like teachers, school administrators, doctors, and nurses) may be required to report what you tell them to the police. If you don’t know if the person you want to talk to is a “mandatory reporter,” ask them. You can also contact RAINN or your local rape crisis center and talk through your options with a victim advocate, who will not report to law enforcement unless you identify yourself and ask them to help you.

WHAT IF I’M NOT SURE IF I WANT TO REPORT?

Even if you are unsure whether you want to report what happened to you to the police, you should consider requesting a sexual assault forensic examination as soon as possible. Every state allows you to get the exam as a “Jane Doe,” meaning that the hospital will preserve any evidence and/or findings from the exam under an anonymous number. If you never decide to report to the police, the evidence will be destroyed. If you decide to report, you will receive a code to access your evidence and provide it to law enforcement.

HOW DO I DECIDE WHERE TO GO FOR A SEXUAL ASSAULT FORENSIC EXAM?

If you decide to receive an examination, it is important to make sure you are going to the right kind of hospital to meet your needs, as only certain hospitals are equipped to care for sexual assault survivors. Be sure to call 911 and tell the operator you were sexually assaulted and that you want to be transported to the nearest emergency room that performs sexual assault or rape exams. Federal law requires emergency personnel to offer to transport a victim of sexual assault to the nearest hospital capable of performing a sexual assault forensic exam regardless of where the sexual assault occurred. So if you were raped in New York and you decide to go home to New Jersey before calling the police, the New Jersey police will take you to a New Jersey hospital. Any hospital you go to will examine and treat you for injuries and give you antibiotics for sexually transmitted infections (STIs). If you are concerned about becoming pregnant, you may be offered emergency contraception depending on the state in which you live. 

WHEN SHOULD I RECEIVE A SEXUAL ASSAULT FORENSIC EXAM?

The sooner you get a forensic exam after the assault, the better, because important evidence (like blood alcohol level, bruising, and swelling) can go away in a matter of minutes. To preserve as much evidence as possible, it is best not to shower, change clothes or even use the bathroom before going for the exam. In most states, you must get a forensic exam within 72 hours of the assault. If you are not eligible for a forensic exam, you can still report the assault to law enforcement.

DO I HAVE TO REPORT THE ASSAULT IF I RECEIVE A SEXUAL ASSAULT FORENSIC EXAM?

Getting a forensic exam DOES NOT mean you have to report the assault to the police. Federal law requires the hospital to offer you the option of a “JANE DOE” exam in which your name or identity is withheld. The hospital will give you an identification number you can use to retrieve the results of your exam and any collected evidence. Most places will hold the exam and evidence for up to 60 days to allow you to consider whether to report to law enforcement. 

WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT FROM A SEXUAL ASSAULT FORENSIC EXAM?

Once you are at the hospital, you will be asked to decide if you want a sexual assault forensic exam. It is your choice whether to get a forensic exam and nothing will be done to you without your permission. You have the right to refuse any aspect of the forensic exam once it starts. The exam is conducted by a trained forensic nurse examiner under the supervision of a doctor. The examiner closely follows an evidence collection checklist that requires the collection of hair samples, bodily fluids and an in-depth internal vaginal and/or anal examination for any evidence of injury. The examiner may also ask to take photographs. If you are uncomfortable with any part of the exam, you can ask the examiner to tell you why that portion of the exam is necessary and you can decide whether you want to allow it. The evidence from the exam may be used later in court but the presence or absence of evidence does not prove whether you were sexually assaulted. What happened to you was real and is not something that needs to be proved, justified, or explained.

WHAT SHOULD I KNOW WHEN DECIDING WHETHER TO REPORT MY ASSAULT TO LAW ENFORCEMENT?

Deciding whether to report an assault is a hard decision each survivor has to face based on their own circumstances. If there is any chance you might want to report, it is best to get a forensic exam as soon as possible. Once you have preserved the evidence, you can talk through whether reporting is a good idea for you with a sexual assault advocate. The advocate can also help make sure you only need to tell your story once: to the right person. You should know that once you make the police report, the decision on whether the perpetrator is prosecuted is out of your hands: police and prosecutors will decide whether criminal charges are brought. 

WHEN SHOULD I REPORT MY ASSAULT TO LAW ENFORCEMENT?

Generally, the sooner you make a police report, the better. Until you decide whether you want to report to law enforcement, you should avoid deleting any texts, voicemails or other evidence that could be used to help support your case. You should preserve (don’t discard, wash, or alter) any clothing, sheets or other items that the perpetrator touched or came into contact with.

WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT FROM THE INTERVIEW WITH LAW ENFORCEMENT?

The exact process for police interviews varies widely from municipality to municipality. In just about every jurisdiction, however, there is a specialized police unit dedicated to handling sexual assaults. When you express you wish to report an assault, you will be assigned to a detective who has some training in interviewing sexual assault survivors. The best jurisdictions have trained forensic interviewers who are instructed on techniques for conducting interviews in a way that does not re-traumatize survivors. Other jurisdictions treat the interview more like an interrogation. Unfortunately, no matter where you go, telling your story to the police will not be easy and you should get as much support as you can if you decide to make a report. Here are other tips to keep in mind.

WHAT HAPPENS AFTER I MAKE A POLICE REPORT?

Police will conduct an investigation and will present evidence to the prosecutor, a lawyer who works for the state. The prosecutor will decide whether there is enough evidence to issue criminal charges against the perpetrator. While you have the right to be updated on the investigation and to talk to the prosecutor about his or her decision to issue charges or not, the prosecutor makes the final decision about whether charges will be brought. Unfortunately, most sexual assaults are never prosecuted. There are a variety of reasons for this that have nothing to do with you or your case. Know that what happened to you was real and that you are not to blame. 

WHAT ARE MY OPTIONS IF NO CHARGES ARE BROUGHT?

Unfortunately, victims cannot “appeal” a prosecutor’s decision not to prosecute. Many national organizations such as I Have The Right To, RAINN, Human Rights Watch and others are advocating for more aggressive prosecution of sexual assault and we can help advise you on ways to advocate for prosecution in your case.

If a criminal case against your perpetrator does not move forward, you have the right to file a civil suit against the perpetrator and against any person or organization that enabled, facilitated and or failed to protect you from the assault itself. Contact us to learn more; we are happy to serve as an initial resource about this process.

If you were assaulted in a school that receives federal funds (most schools do), you also have the right to file a Title IX complaint with your school. This may result in disciplinary action against the perpetrator and may allow you to get academic and other types of accommodations to help you cope with the assault. We encourage you to ask your school for the accommodations you need to feel safe at school. It is worth noting that a school does not have to wait for a criminal investigation to take action. 

WHAT HAPPENS AFTER CRIMINAL CHARGES ARE FILED?

There are six major steps after criminal charges against the perpetrator are formally filed. Here is what to be aware of during each of them.

If You Witness Sexual Violence or Know Someone Who Has Been Affected, Be Informed and Act

In a world full of bystanders, young people have the opportunity to be upstanders. When you observe sexual violence, however minor it may seem, know that it is harmful and you can play a role in stopping it.
Students like you are pushing for change across the country and the world. Here is a snapshot of sexual assault in elementary, middle, and high schools and what your peers are doing to speak out against it.

Visualize the impact of sexual assault and add your mark.

Know of a case of sexual assault that isn’t reflected on the map? Tell us about it by filling out the reporting form.

Know of a case of sexual assault that isn’t reflected on the map?

Tell us about it by filling out our reporting form.

Do you have a friend who is a survivor of sexual assault? Here is how to show up for them.

If You’re Ready to Make Change Now

Ready to put your voice to stopping sexual misconduct at a national level?

Here’s how.

Sign the I Have The Right To Pledge to raise awareness about and speak out against sexual assault.

Up for a challenge? Take the I Have The Right To Challenge: any school that gets 100% of its students, faculty, and staff to sign the I Have The Right To Pledge will receive I Have The Right To swag, resources, plus special recognition from its leaders.

Bring Us In

Ask your school for I Have The Right To programming to make sure every student has an education free from sexual assault. Here’s how to do so.

Post It

Make your own I Have The Right To declaration on social media, using the hashtag #IHaveTheRightTo

Talk About It

Facilitate a discussion of I Have the Right To, the true story of I Have The Right To’s co-founder, Chessy Prout, and her searing, visceral story of assault, justice, and healing. 

Apply to become a volunteer or intern

Eager to do more? Take action today.

If you haven't already, add your name to the movement supporting survivors and inviting shared r....
If you haven't already, add your name to the movement supporting survivors and inviting shared responsibility to ensure every student receives an education free from sexual assault. #IHaveTheRightTo
...
Earlier this week, we shared our new site. Today, we're sharing what it's all for - creating an ....
Earlier this week, we shared our new site. Today, we're sharing what it's all for - creating an ecosystem of respect and support for students and survivors of sexual assault.
We're committed to this ...
Thanks to all who signed the pledge to help us create a future where every student receives an e....
Thanks to all who signed the pledge to help us create a future where every student receives an education free from sexual assault.
The next step? Share with ten of your friends! 😃🙌
Link to pledge i ...
Yes! Two big surprises for you in one day! When you go to our new website, please sign the pledg....
Yes! Two big surprises for you in one day! When you go to our new website, please sign the pledge and join I Have The Right To in leading a nationwide commitment to ensure all students receive an educ ...
It's the day we've all been waiting for! Check out the new space we have built for students, par....
It's the day we've all been waiting for! Check out the new space we have built for students, parents, and educators: the new I Have The Right To website. While you're there, sign the I Have The Right ...

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