Sexual Assault: Resources on Campus

At IU Southeast, there are multiple places one can go to receive help and advice on that next step. In each of these offices are individuals specifically trained to assist someone who has experienced sexual assault.

Kristy Fennessey, Staff Reporter

There are few things one can experience in life that are as jarring as sexual assault. Being sexually assaulted can leave a person feeling vulnerable and confused. Many victims find themselves at a loss on what to do next, where to go for help and who they can reach out to.

At IU Southeast, there are multiple places one can go to receive help and advice on that next step. In each of these offices are individuals specifically trained to assist someone who has experienced sexual assault.


IU Police Department:          
University Center North, Room 027.
Phone: 812-941-2400

One of the first places a victim can go is to the IU Police Department. Charles Edelen, chief of the IUPD, said regardless of where or when someone was assaulted they should stop by the IUPD so that they can be connected to the resources that IU Southeast offers.

“If we don’t know about it, we can’t help,” Edelen said. “The university has a lot of resources that we can either provide or connect a victim to but we can’t if we don’t know.”

Edelen said if you come in to talk to an officer you are under no obligation to make an official report. The IUPD is mandated to report any instances of sexual assault on campus to the Title IX coordinator. This can be done anonymously and will not automatically lead to an investigation or legal action.

There are several options for reporting, and they will discuss those options with you. He said the IUPD will not try to push a victim in any particular direction.

Edelen said the IUPD will support the victim in any way they can including giving people rides to medical treatment or other resources.

“It is really up to the victim. If they want us to take them, we will. There is no cost. We do everything we can to help them,” Edelen said. “If they need help and have no way to get there, we are going to take them.”

One of the most important things the IUPD can offer is to connect them to other resources that the campus offers. Personal counseling is free on campus and probably the most important service the university offers to victims of sexual violence, Edelen said.

Personal Counseling:       
University Center South, Room 243.
Phone: 812-941-2244

“Sexual Assault is something that is so outside the ordinary… One should never expect that they have the resources to know what to do in that situation,” said Michael Day, personal counselor at IU Southeast. “It’s overwhelming.”

Day talked about the importance of having a person who is trained, a person who is compassionate and caring, a person whose only interest is to help you figure things out. He said it can be a vital resource at a time when a person might not be thinking clearly and should not be expected to think clearly.

The personal counseling office has nine counselors that are trained in dealing with sexual assault. Personal counseling is a free and confidential service to students on campus.

Day said while other offices will take the utmost care for a person’s privacy and respect their wishes as far as official reporting goes, personal counselors are the only people on campus that can guarantee confidentiality.

“We are not required to report sexual assault or sexual abuse at any time, except in cases involving children or senior citizens,” Day said.

Day explained that personal counseling is a free and safe place to speak and people are under no obligation to keep coming in. He said that if you try it once and do not like your experience, it is OK to both say that and to ask for a different counselor if the first one was not the best match.

There is no limit to how many sessions you can have with a personal counselor.

Day said that, on average, people come in for four or five visits. Some people come once or twice, and others come in once a week for months.

“We try to tailor each individual treatment based upon what you need as opposed to some external criteria,” Day said.

Day said it can be very hard to talk to people about being sexually assaulted, even more so with someone you know who cares about you and loves you.

“Sometimes it’s best to have someone you don’t know. Outside of your friends. Outside of your family. Often, they will have their own opinions,” Day said.

He said sometimes family or friends feel overly supportive and may try to push you in a particular direction about what your next step will be.

“Talking to someone who’s more neutral can be safer,” Day said.

Day also said he wants students to know there is no cap on how long you can wait before talking about it. He said there is no danger of anyone in the personal counseling office not believing you because you waited to come in.

“We will believe you. We will support you,” Day said. “Whether it’s the day after. Whether it’s a month after. Whether it’s a year after. There is no timeline for going through your own process of healing. It’s different for each person.”

While the personal counseling office can only provide counseling to students currently attending IU Southeast, Day said anyone on campus can come by if they need someone to talk to in an emergency.

Day said they offer consultations for faculty, staff, and students who cannot or do not want to pursue counseling through the school. They will help talk through where they can go to seek additional help and how to set that up.

“We don’t say you have to come talk to us,” Day said. “We just want you to have someone to talk to.”

Center for Women and Families
4919 Charlestown Rd.
New Albany, IN.
Phone: 812-944-6743

Both Edelen and Day mentioned another important resource, The Center for Women and Family, that is available to everyone.  This resource is actually located off campus.

The center, located off-campus on Charlestown Road in New Albany, maintains strong presence at IU Southeast. Representatives visit the campus regularly to provide information and training on topics such as sexual and domestic violence.

They also have a 24-hour crisis line dedicated specifically for IU Southeast.

“If somebody has a question about resources. If somebody has been assaulted, they just don’t know what to do and they want to ask questions. If they just need someone to talk to they can just call that number 24 hours a day,” said Annell Lough, the center’s prevention and outreach coordinator.

Lough said the center offers services such as individual counseling and medical advocacy. Medical advocates meet victims at the hospital — Clark Memorial Hospital in most cases occurring on or near campus — and support them through the physical examination process.

The medical exam can be one of the most intimidating things to endure after an assault. It is important for the victim to have someone there who can hold their hand and let them know what to expect.

Lough said they also have legal advocates who will go to court with people to support them.

They are not attorneys, but they can give them information about how the legal process works and the steps that are going to be taken during that process.

The center has an emergency shelter for people who have experienced sexual assault and, because they live with the person who assaulted them, do not feel safe going home.

All services offered through the center are free.

Having escaped a physically and sexually abusive relationship herself, Lough understands the importance of their resources and support needed to help someone through it all.

“I think the most important thing you can say to somebody is ‘I believe you.’ I believe you goes a long way,” Lough said. “Just connecting them with the right resources, telling them you believe them, and telling them healing is possible. It doesn’t feel like that right after it happens. You feel pretty broken in that moment.”

Office of Equity and Diversity/ Safe Zone:
University Center South, Room 231.
Phone: 812-941-2306

Darlene Posey Young is, among other positions, the director of the Office of Equity and Diversity and regional Title IX coordinator for IU Southeast.

“We work along with our university’s police department, with our colleagues in student affairs, housing, the dean of students, the V.C. of student affairs … to make certain our students are taken care of in terms of their safety and their knowledge of sexual assault,” she said.

Young said this includes educating students on what sexual assault is, how to prevent it and what to do in the event it occurs.

As title IX coordinator, Young makes sure the campus meets federally mandated guidelines and standards on how sexual assault is handled on campus. Her office also makes sure the resources available to victims of sexual assault are up to par.

She said there are multiple ways her office receives reports of sexual assault. There is a form people can fill out online on the IUS website. Their office receive reports from IUPD. A faculty member who a student confided in is required to report the assault to Young’s office. Sometimes the student will come into her office directly to talk about what happened.

Mandated reporting does not mean the assault will be reported to the police. It does not mean the victim will be required to seek legal action of any sort.

Young said, once her office receives the report, she gets in touch with the person involved.

“If they want to talk to me I am here to hear their story and give them the best advice possible,” Young said.

Young said there are several core teams of well-trained individuals on campus that can help an individual who has been assaulted. They help the individual understand their rights and know about all the resources available to them.The team can help direct students on where and how to access these resources.

Young said it is important the individual knows they can receive personal counseling and medical services. These services will not cost the student anything out of pocket.

Young said that, in 2015, she had her office added to the freshman passport, a card first-year students must take to various offices around campus to be stamped or signed.

She did this so that she can meet as many students as possible and let them know about the offices services. She also believes that news will travel by word of mouth if enough people know.

“When students come by, I try to shake their hand. I try to tell them who I am and what I am here for,” Young said. “[I am here] to simply make certain that they are able to learn; to work as a work study student on campus; work as an intern off campus, in environments that are free from sexual harassment.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: The next segment in this series will talk more about Title IX, reporting options and sexual assault prevention on campus.