Campus Guide For College Students
Understanding Intimate Partner Violence, Sexual Assault and Stalking
Intimate partner violence (or dating/domestic violence), sexual assault, and stalking are some of the most prevalent crimes on college campuses. While these types of violence do not always rise to the level of a punishable offense by law, all compromise the safety of everyone on or near campus.
Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) is a pattern of behaviors used to gain power and control over a current or previous intimate partner. Behaviors can include physical, sexual, emotional, financial, and/or verbal abuse. The abuse can happen over time and may continue to get more violent or dangerous. On college campuses, IPV commonly begins with possessive behaviors like jealousy and isolation from friends and family.
Sexual assault involves any kind of sexual contact that is unwanted and/or nonconsensual. Most sexual assaults happen between people who know each other. It is common for someone who has been abused by their partner in other ways to also have been sexually assaulted by them. Sexual assault can involve force, but may also involve being coerced into sexual activity. In many cases, especially on college campuses, the use of drugs and alcohol are often a factor in sexual assault, which can further complicate reporting and response.
Stalking is the unwanted pursuit of one person by another. Stalking is a crime in New York State and can be very dangerous. While some stalking happens between people who don’t know each other, it frequently occurs in current or former intimate partner relationships. Stalking on college campuses can be especially difficult to monitor and prohibit due to victim and abusers living in the same residence halls.
What Services and Protections are Available for Victims on College Campuses?
Students have the option to use campus resources in cases of IPV, sexual assault, and stalking.
- Campus security is available for students to report incidents and can help to refer students to appropriate service providers.
- Resident life staff can assist in pointing students to appropriate resources.
- College wellness/health centers can provide counseling to victims and basic medical care for minor physical injuries.
- Victim advocacy groups are present on many campuses and can assist victims throughout any reporting or recovery processes.
As with any victim, students can also turn to their community resources to seek services, even if they are already using campus resources.
- Victim service providers assist victims in a variety of ways. Some serve as medical or legal advocates and accompany victims to the emergency room and police station. Other agencies provide shelter, assistance in obtaining an order of protection (OP), and other emergency needs. While services vary for each agency, all supply free and confidential counseling for victims. Every county in New York State has a victim service provider.
- Hospitals and medical centers provide forensic exams at no cost to the victim. They should be utilized in cases of violence as soon as possible to treat injuries and prevent infections.
- Local law enforcement can assist any student who has been victimized. Even if a student has reported the incident to campus security, they can also report to local law enforcement as well.
For more information go to the OPDV website.
In New York State, there are laws that require colleges and universities to provide information to students about IPV, stalking, and sexual assault. The basic requirements of the laws are summarized below. For more information, please visit the OPDV website.
Colleges are required to:
- Have an Advisory Committee on Campus Security review campus policies and make recommendations to improve procedures.
- Inform all incoming students about IPV, stalking, and sexual assault, including laws, procedures and punishments for when an offense occurs, victim services, and how security issues will be relayed.
- Publish an Annual Security Report and maintain a public crime log.
- Inform students and prospective students how to access campus crime statistics if the college receives state funding.
- Enforce orders of protection (OPs) on campus, including when the OP is from out of state.
All victims of violent crime who are victimized in New York State may apply for victim compensation through the Office of Victim Services. For more information, ask your local victim service provider or visit the Office of Victim Services website.
How Serious is the Problem?
IPV, sexual assault, and stalking are widespread on college campuses. These forms of violence can occur one at a time or simultaneously. Each occurrence should be reported separately due to specific laws and system responses.
- Nearly 80% of females reported experiencing at least one incident of physical or sexual aggression by the end of college.*
- 42% of stalking incidences reported by college women were perpetrated by a current or former intimate partner.*
- In the US, approximately 1 in 3 young women (estimates up to 35%) are victims of interpersonal violence.*
College students face unique obstacles when it comes to IPV, sexual assault, and stalking.
- Living on campus or away from home can make students feel trapped in their community and social peer group.
- College students might be more fearful of reporting if they were using drugs or alcohol.
- Avoiding harassment and stalking can be more difficult when a victim lives in the same residence hall or attend the same classes as their abuser.
- Campus policies and procedures about dating abuse can be unclear.
- Campus security and resident life staff may be unprepared to deal with dating abuse.
*Citations are available at Respect Love, Love Respect.
What to do if you’re a victim of intimate partner violence, sexual assault, or stalking:
- Go to someplace you feel safe. Remove yourself from dangerous settings as soon as possible.
- Talk to someone you trust like a friend, instructor, coach, resident assistant, or parent and discuss your options. If you do not feel comfortable talking to your friends, family, or campus members, contact your local victim service provider. An advocate can provide you with options specific to your situation.
- Consider medical attention for treatment of any injuries or prevention of infections. Remember a victim advocate can assist you during the medical examination if you choose.
- Consider reporting to campus security or local law enforcement. Security/law enforcement can assist in obtaining orders of protection and safety suggestions.
- Remember victim compensation and other services are available. You do not need to be a NYS resident to be eligible for assistance from the Office of Victim Services (OVS). If you are a victim of a violent crime in New York, you can apply for victim compensation. For more information, ask your local victim service provider or visit the OVS website.
NYS Domestic and Sexual Violence Hotline
English and español, Multi-Language Accessibility
National Relay Service for Deaf or Hard of Hearing: 711
NYS Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence
NYS Office of Victim Services