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University Counseling Center

The Student Who Has Been Sexually Harassed (Assaulted)

Sexual harassment involves unwelcome and unwanted sexual attention and/or advances, requests for sexual favors, and other inappropriate verbal or physical conduct. Sexual assault is sexual contact initiated against a person without consent. Consent must be informed, freely and actively given, and an understandable exchange of affirmative words or actions, which indicate a willingness to participate in mutually agreed upon sexual activity. It is the responsibility of the initiator to obtain clear and affirmative responses at each stage of sexual involvement. The lack of negative response is not consent. Consent may not be given by an individual who is intoxicated or incapacitated by drug and/or alcohol both voluntarily or involuntarily consumed. Past consent of sexual activity does not imply ongoing future consent. It is often found in the context of a relationship of unequal power, rank, or status. It does not matter that the person’s intention was not to harass. It is the effect that counts; as long as the conduct interferes with a student’s academic/work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive learning environment, it is considered sexual harassment.

Sexual harassment usually is not an isolated one-time only case but a repeated pattern of behavior that may include:

  • Comments about one’s body or clothing
  • Questions about one’s sexual behavior
  • Demeaning references to one’s gender
  • Sexually-oriented jokes
  • Conversations filled with innuendoes and double meanings
  • Displaying of sexually suggestive pictures or objects
  • Repeated non-reciprocated demands for dates or sex
  • Inappropriate and unwelcome touch
  • Threats of rape
  • Sexual coercion
  • Unwanted sexual contact without consent
  • Completed or attempted rape

Common reactions by students who have been harassed is to doubt their perceptions, wonder if it was a joke or question whether they have brought it on themselves in some way. A student may begin to participate less in the classroom, drop or avoid classes, or even change majors.

Although most assaults are committed by men against women, men can be assaulted by women, and same-sex assaults also occur. Advise without conveying judgment.

What You Can Do:

  • Listen without conveying judgment and be aware that victims can feel shame and anger.
  • Refer the student to the appropriate members of the Community.
  • If the student needs immediate medical attention, refer to UHS for testing for sexually transmitted diseases (STD) and the “morning after” pill.
  • Refer the student to UCC (585) 275-3113 for assessment and counseling options.
  • If the student wants to report it to the police, the student must go to the hospital so evidence can be collected.
  • If the student needs help in dealing with academics issues as a result of the sexual assault refer them to the Dean of Students.
  • Inform the student of other CRT resources.


  • Expressing judgment even when high-risk behaviors on the part of the victim (e.g., intoxication) were involved.
  • Pressuring the student to file a police report.

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