What should I do if I'm a victim of any sexual violence?


If you believe you or anyone else is in immediate danger, call 911 as soon as possible.

Once you are safe, contact someone you trust to be with you for support. There are a lot of options for victim/survivors and it is always your choice to decide which options are best for you.


Get Medical Attention

  • Hospital treatment is recommended in situations where there is serious physical harm including loss of consciousness or a blow to the head, continual bleeding following the assault, possible broken bones, a laceration requiring stitches, abdominal or chest pain present, pregnancy, or other serious medical or emergency conditions.
  • After an incident of sexual assault, you should consider seeking medical attention as soon as possible from a specially trained nurse: Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE). SANE exams can be completed within 120 hours of a sexual assault. 
  • A nurse examiner program is different from visiting an emergency room at a hospital. Their job is to make sure you are healthy/safe. They can document any injuries, collect evidence, provide STI medication, provide Plan B (if applicable), and connect you to resources. This service is FREE and CONFIDENTIAL. You do not have to report to the police to access a SANE exam. 
    • Click here for a list of Nurse Examiner programs.

Preserve Evidence

  • If you choose to seek medical attention, and with your consent, evidence can be collected by a specially trained nurse in a supportive environment.
  • In the State of Michigan, evidence may be collected even if you chose not to make a report to law enforcement. 
  • In addition to collecting evidence, a nurse examiner can also provide emergency contraception, high-dose antibiotics to treat gonorrhea and chlamydia and other important resources, such as counseling.
    • Click here for a list of Nurse Examiner programs.
  • Although it is not an absolute deadline, it is strongly encouraged that physical evidence be collected within 120 hours. 
  • It is helpful that as a victim/survivor of sexual assault, you do not shower, bathe, douche, smoke, brush your teeth, change clothing or clean the bed/linen/area where you were assaulted; but doing so does not disqualify you from an examination.
  • Any preserved evidence collected may be used to the proof of criminal activity or in obtaining a protection order. 
  • If possible you should maintain the scene exactly as it was at the time of the assault if you intend to report the incident to the police.
  • The collection of evidence does not presume that charges will be filed against the assailant; the filing of a criminal charge is always the choice of the victim/survivor.
  • As time passes, evidence may dissipate or become lost or unavailable, thereby making the investigation, possibly prosecution, disciplinary proceedings, or obtaining protection orders from abuse related to the incident more difficult.
  • If a victim/survivor chooses not to file a complaint regarding an incident, they nevertheless should consider speaking with a member of the Public Safety Services staff or other law enforcement to preserve evidence in the event that the victim/survivor changes their mind at a later date.

Consider Reporting to Police

  • You are encouraged to report incidences of sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence and stalking to the Grand Valley Department of Public Safety Services
  • Reporting incidents to the Police Department does not commit you to further legal action; the police will help whether or not you choose to prosecute the assailant. 
  • If you choose, the earlier you report these crimes to the police, the easier it will be for police to investigate the crime and to prosecute the case.
  • Earlier reporting helps to preserve your options for the future. 
  • Those not wanting to report incidents directly to the police may wish to speak with a Campus Victim Advocate
  • Public Safety Services officers can assist you in contacting a variety of University services including the Campus Victim Advocate in the Center for Women & Gender Equity, the University Counseling Center, and with transportation to a nurse examiner program

How to Contact the Police

For emergencies, DIAL 911.

For Incidents Occurring on ANY campus, contact: 

Grand Valley State University Public Safety Services
Non-Emergency:  (616) 331-3255
Allendale Service Building
11106 Service Dr.
Allendale, MI  49401

or

609 Watson St SW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504

OR

Police Response Options

  • Law enforcement officers will offer every person reporting assistance in locating sexual assault advocacy services. Written material will be provided.
  • A victim/survivor or other reporting party may provide as much, or as little, information as they choose with no time limitations or restrictions on when the information is given to law enforcement. For example, information obtained on an incident outside the current statute of limitations will be documented and used as the law allows to assist in other investigations.
  • A victim/survivor may be accompanied by the Campus Victim Advocate or other appropriate support person during all phases of the reporting process and criminal investigation.
  • A victim/survivor or other reporting party may remain anonymous and still have the information they provide documented by a law enforcement agency.
  • A victim/survivor or other reporting party may have questions answered regarding their options for reporting and/or a criminal investigation prior to providing any personally identifying or incident information to law enforcement.
  • A clear explanation of the reporting process and/or investigative procedures will be provided by a law enforcement officer if requested by the victim/survivor.
  • When making a report there is no requirement to meet in person with a law enforcement officer. For example, a victim/survivor or other reporting party may report using an online form or a victim/survivor may choose to have a sexual assault advocate report on their behalf.
  • Reasonable efforts will be made to allow the victim/survivor or other reporting party control over the location, time and date where their initial report is made to law enforcement.
  • A victim/survivor of sexual assault is offered three options for reporting:
    • Report information only,
    • Investigate the case, and
    • Request Prosecution.
  • A victim/survivor, or other reporting party, may end an interview with law enforcement at any time without having to provide a reason.
  • After making a report, a victim/survivor or other reporting party will not be pressured to participate in a criminal investigation.
  • Reasonable efforts will be made to meet the needs of the victim/survivor and address any barriers the victim/survivor faces in providing information to law enforcement during the reporting process.
  • Law enforcement officers will conduct victim/survivor interviews in a trauma-informed manner.
  • Reasonable efforts will be made to meet the needs of the victim/survivor and address any barriers the victim/survivor faces in providing information to law enforcement during the investigation.
  • A victim/survivor’s right to keep their assault private will be respected. It is legally permissible and appropriate that the University Title IX Coordinator and Campus Victim Advocate be notified about the incident. No other persons will be notified outside of law enforcement without the victim/survivor’s consent. This includes the interviewing of identified witnesses and perpetrators.
  • Investigators will utilize strategies to identify and document serial sexual perpetration.
  • Criminal investigations will be conducted at a pace set by the victim/survivor, not the law enforcement officer. Victim/survivors will be informed that no case can proceed to the referral to the Prosecutor’s Office until the investigative process is complete.
  • A victim/survivor may disengage from a criminal investigation at any time prior to an arrest being made or the case being referred to the Prosecutor’s Office. There is no requirement that an explanation be given by the victim/survivor to law enforcement.
  • No arrest or referral to the Prosecutor’s Office will occur without the consent of the victim/survivor. We respect the choice of every victim/survivor who reports a sexual assault and understand that justice is not the same for every person who is victimized.
  • Criminal investigations that do not result in arrest or referral to the Prosecutor’s Office, unless found baseless or false, may be re-opened in the future at a victim/survivor’s request and/or if additional information is discovered.

Consider Reporting to Grand Valley State University

If you have experienced, witnessed, or been impacted by sexual misconduct, harassment, discrimination, and/or retaliation, you can report the incident to GVSU by contacting the Acting Title IX Coordinator by phone, email, or in person. Reports can also be made at any time (including during non-business hours) through GVSU's online reporting form.  

Reporting to GVSU allows our office to engage in an interactive process with you to discuss and provide supportive measures. You do not have to decide to file a formal complaint or choose any particular course of action. Coming to our office does not obligate you to initiate a university investigation unless you choose to do so.

The decision to file a formal complaint is yours to make.

Once a report is received, a member of our team will promptly reach out to the Complainant and:

  • discuss supportive measures available to ensure their safety and continued access to programs and activities GVSU offers
    • You can access supportive measures even if you choose not to file a formal complaint.
  • inform them of helpful resources on campus and in the community; and
  • discuss options for university resolution.

Contact us for assistance and information. We are here to help.

Michael Szydlowski, Acting Title IX Coordinator
szydlowm@gvsu.edu

Office for Title IX and Institutional Equity
4015 James H. Zumberge Hall
(616) 331-9530

 

Formal Complaint
A formal complaint may be filed with the Title IX Coordinator or Deputy Title IX Coordinator, which will initiate the Formal Grievance Process ("Process A"). This option is available when the other party is affiliated with GVSU, and once filed, a detailed notice is sent to that party.  A member of our team can assist in determining the Complainant's preferences, as well as assist in determining the applicable policy and resolution process.

A Formal Complaint means a document filed/signed by the Complainant or signed by the Title IX Coordinator alleging a policy violation by a Respondent and requesting that GVSU investigate the allegation(s).

Visit our Reporting to GVSU page for more details about reporting and mandatory reporters.

                           


Consider Meeting with a Campus Victim Advocate

  • The Campus Victim Advocate can assist by:
    • Contacting the Department of Public Safety for transportation to the court for a personal protection order, or in contacting other law enforcement agencies in the event that the assault did not occur on campus.
    • Referrals to counseling and other supportive services on campus and in the community
    • Support and assistance in navigating the GVSU sexual misconduct system, if you choose
    • Support and assistance in participating in University resolution
    • Referrals for assistance in academic, housing, employment or other accommodations
    • Offering education about medical options and procedures, including evidence collection
    • Information about the referrals to legal advocacy, including Personal Protection Orders
    • Offering assistance for significant others and friends of victim/survivors of gender/based violence
    • Informing you of various options in reporting the incident. This includes reporting the incident to Grand Valley Police Department who will respect the choices made by you, even non-reporting.
    • If you request an investigation, the advocate will contact appropriate personnel to assist. If you have a gender preference for an officer, every reasonable attempt will be made to make one available.                                               

Contact a GVSU Campus Victim Advocate at:

Gayle R. Davis Center for Women and Gender Equity
1201 Kirkhof Center
(616) 331-2748