Defining sexual assault, relationship violence, and stalking
Everyone has the right to respectful and healthy interactions with their friends, partners, and members of our community. At WSU, we strive to create an environment of safety and accountability. Even so, sex- and gender-based violence like sexual assault, relationship violence, and stalking are as common here as they are on any other college campus.
People experience these forms of violence regardless of sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, race, ethnicity, age, or disability. There are some groups that experience violence at rates higher than others, but it can happen to anyone.
Relationship violence is harm or threat of harm in an intimate relationship. It can also be called domestic violence or dating violence. This can include (but is not limited to) physical, emotional, and sexual abuse.
Stalking is a course of conduct directed toward an individual that would cause a reasonable person to feel afraid. Stalking can occur in person or through technology. Most victims are stalked by someone they know, such as a current or former partner.
Stalking interactions can mirror behaviors that many of us engage in every day, with one major difference: these interactions are unwanted and intimidating, and cause someone to fear for their safety or the safety of people around them.
Sexual assault is any sexual activity lacking clear, knowing, and voluntary consent. This can include nonconsensual sexual intercourse or other physical contact. Sexual assault most frequently occurs between people who know each other. They may be friends, romantic partners, co-workers, roommates, classmates, or casual acquaintances. They may have just met at a party or online.
While a significant portion of sexual assault on college campuses includes the presence of alcohol or other substance, sexual assault can also occur outside of a typical party scene.
Options for support and reporting
If you or someone you know experiences these types of violence, we’re here to support you and provide options for emotional support, medical care, and reporting. There are confidential and other resources available to you.
Confidential resources like victim advocates at Alternatives to Violence of the Palouse and Counseling and Psychological Services are not required to report to law enforcement or the university. There are minimal exceptions to confidentiality, such as reporting child or elder abuse or other imminent harm. If you choose to access these services, your visit and the information you share will be confidential.
Medical care at Cougar Health Services is also a confidential resource. Regardless of whether you want to make a police report, a health care provider can help assess your wellbeing and personal safety, provide any necessary medical treatment, and help connect you with other resources.
University resources include the Office for Equal Opportunity (OEO). OEO can take a report of your experience, start an investigation, help you identify campus safety options, and connect you to local support services, medical care, and counseling. OEO’s investigation process is separate from any criminal process and can be pursued alone or simultaneously.
Keep in mind that, with limited exceptions, most university employees have an obligation to report sex- and gender-based violence to the university. If you choose to disclose your experience to a university employee, they will share that information with the Title IX Coordinator at OEO. OEO will follow up with you to offer support and let you know about resources and options that are available to you. They will also give you the option of pursuing an investigation.
This reporting requirement is designed to keep our community safe and ensure that victims and survivors receive the support they need. If OEO contacts you, it’s your choice whether or not to provide details or pursue any of the options they provide.
If you would like to pursue criminal investigation and possible legal action, you can report to WSU Police or Pullman Police.
For a comprehensive list of confidential and other resources at WSU and in the community, visit OEO’s website.
Supporting a friend
Students are more likely to talk with a friend about their experience of violence before anyone else. A supportive response can make a significant difference to someone coping with the impact of sexual assault, relationship violence, or stalking.
Helpful things to say to a victim or survivor:
- It’s not your fault.
- It’s not okay that this happened.
- I believe you.
- You’re not alone.
- Do you want to talk to someone?
- What can I do to support you?
- If you don’t want to talk about it, that’s okay.
Green Dot bystander intervention program
Want to take an active role in reducing violence at WSU? Sign up for a Green Dot bystander intervention training. This comprehensive training goes beyond the material covered in mandatory workshops for incoming students and is available to all members of the WSU community. During training you’ll learn how to recognize different forms of gender-based violence like stalking, relationship violence, and sexual assault, and get tools for responding to a potentially dangerous situation.
Green Dot is a nationally-recognized program that helps us to identify red dots (actions or behaviors that can cause harm) and to do more green dots (actions or behaviors that prevent harm). Our goal is to dot our campus with so many more green dots than red that eventually, violence cannot happen here. With active participation from students, parents, and university employees, we can make this happen.
Visit CougSync to view and register for an upcoming training.
Our approach to violence prevention
In addition to providing mandatory programs for students and ongoing training opportunities for the WSU community, best practices in violence prevention recommend clear policies with consistent enforcement, trauma-informed response and services for victims, and extensive community involvement. In alignment with these recommendations, we:
- Collaborate with our Title IX Coordinator to assist with assessing campus climate and reviewing campus policy
- Advocate to include student perspectives and concerns into prevention and response efforts
- Collaborate to offer law enforcement training around response and investigation of these crimes
- Provide training for the university conduct board
- Serve as consultants for student-led initiatives to prevent violence
Ongoing efforts to address sex- and gender-based violence are outlined in our 2014 Progress Report.
To learn more about our collaborative prevention efforts, subscribe to receive email updates.