Skip to main content
A community college sponsored by Niagara County

© 2019 SUNY Niagara | All rights reserved.

Public Safety

Sexual Assault

What to do if you are sexually assaulted.

If you have been hurt by an acquaintance, partner, family member or stranger, it was not your fault. The SUNY Niagara Wellness Center, 716-614-6275 provides free and confidential services to SUNY Niagara students who have been hurt by sexual assault, relationship violence and stalking. If you are on campus the YWCA of the Niagara Frontier 24/7 Rape Crisis/Domestic Violence hotline 716-433-6716 also provides free and confidential services for persons hurt by sexual assault, relationship violence, and stalking. Below you will find information about sexual assault and services available for students.

All of the information below is available in a PDF download, click here.

If you are a Male survivor or identify as LGBTQ we have additional resource pages that may be helpful:

Click here for Male survivors
Click here for LGBTQ

If you have been sexually assaulted

Get to a safe location. Below are services available for advocacy/counseling, medical assistance, evidence collection and reporting options.

Tell a person who will support you and/or contact the YWCA of the Niagara Frontier 24/7 Rape Crisis/Domestic Violence hotline at 716-433-6716 who will dispatch an advocate to the College or housing to assist you. If you’d rather text, please text 716-870-9726.

The SUNY Niagara Wellness Center provides assistance for SUNY Niagara students that are survivors of violence. We can answer questions, offer emotional support, and provide referrals. You can also make an appointment with a counselor by visiting the Wellness Center, located in the Science Building, (C Building), room C-122, or calling us at 716-614-6275. View the current schedule for counselors.

For 24 hour assistance The YWCA of the Niagara Frontier provides a 24/7 Rape Crisis/Domestic Violence helpline for survivors of sexual assault and relationship violence (1-716-433-6716). The helpline can answer questions, provide referrals or send a victim advocate to meet with you.

Both services are free and confidential. We highly encourage survivors to contact an advocate.

Have your medical needs attended to in the emergency room.

Taking care of your physical and medical state can play an important role in healing. You may have internal and/or external injuries as a result of the assault requiring medical care. Additionally, you may want to explore options for preventing sexually transmitted infections/disease (STI/STD) and/or pregnancy.

Emergency contraception (EC) is available at area pharmacies, while it is ‘over the counter’ and does not require an Rx, you will have to ask the pharmacist to obtain EC.

There is no ‘right’ place to go for medical attention after an assault. Seek the services that best match your needs and comfort level – your own health care practitioner, a staff member at the SUNY Niagara Wellness Center, or your local emergency room.

If you are a housing student, the closest hospital is Eastern Niagara Hospital in Lockport and it offers 24 hr coverage with specially trained nurses that will explain the options for having a sexual assault exam with collection of evidence, along with 24 hr coverage for an advocate to provide you with follow-up information and referrals. You have the right to decline services if you do not want an advocate or the collection of evidence.

Contact Information:
DeGraff Memorial Hospital
5300 Military Rd
North Tonawanda, NY 14120
(716) 694-4500


Mt. St. Mary’s Hospital
5300 Military Rd
Lewiston, NY 14092
(716) 297-4800

Things to know about the SAEC exam:

  • Depending on the types of sexual contact that occurred, the search for physical evidence may include taking samples from the mouth, vagina, and/or rectum to test for sperm cells and semen. Other evidence may be obtained from fingernail scrapings, foreign matter on your body, and the clothes you were wearing at the time of the assault.
  • Do not shower, drink, eat, or change your clothes prior to an exam. These activities destroy important physical evidence that is useful should you decide to make a police report. Also, document everything you remember happening with as much detail as possible.
  • During the exam you can expect to be examined for internal or external injuries, foreign hair samples, and semen/other bodily fluids. You may be given antibiotics to prevent infection.
  • Going to the hospital does not mean that you have to make a report to the police. That is your choice.
  • If possible, bring an extra set of clothes (the police may want the clothes worn during the assault for evidence) and a friend or another supportive person.
  • If you have visible injuries, you may be asked to have photographs taken. Photographing injuries is important because by the time your assailant is prosecuted, the injuries may have healed.
  • Save sheets, blankets, or anything else that may have evidence in a paper bag. Do not throw anything away or try to clean up.
  • Save the clothes you were wearing at the time of the assault in a paper bag.
  • Such an exam can be performed up to 96 hours after an assault, but it is most successful within the first 24 hours.
  • You will be asked questions about your general health and specific questions about the assault. It may be difficult to recall some of the details, and it may be emotionally painful to talk about what happened. Medical providers ask specific questions to find out what to look for when they examine you. The information you give helps them conduct a thorough physical evaluation.

Contact Information:

YWCA of the Niagara Frontier 24/7 Rape Crisis/Domestic Violence hotline staff is specially trained to identify and respond to the medical needs of sexual assault survivors. The Wellness Center can provide assistance in contacting an advocate to assist you in your choices for assistance.

Contact Information:

YWCA of the Niagara Frontier 24-hour Rape Crisis/Domestic Violence Hotline
Phone: 716-433-6716 Text: 716-870-9726

Reporting Options (Criminal, Student Conduct, Title IX, Anonymous, and Confidential):

Not everyone is comfortable with using the criminal justice system or campus disciplinary process to respond to a sexual assault. It is your decision whether or not to take judicial or legal action against the perpetrator. We encourage you to seek out the support system that feels most appropriate and helpful. Students have the right to pursue criminal charges and/or disciplinary action through the student conduct process. For more information on the student conduct process please contact the Office of the Vice President for Student Services 716-614-6240, or the SUNY Niagara Public Safety Department at 716-614-6400, or the Title IX Officer at 716-614-5951 (employee) or the Office of the Vice President for Student Services at 716-614-6240 (student).

To file a criminal complaint: Assaults that occurred on-campus can be reported to the Public Safety Department 716-614-6400. Assaults that occurred off-campus can be reported to law enforcement jurisdiction where the assault took place (911) or the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office at 716-438-3393.

To pursue campus disciplinary action through the student conduct process (assaults that occurred on or off campus): Assaults can be reported to the Public Safety Department 716-614-6400, Office of the Vice President for Student Services 716-614-6240, Residence Life at 716-731-8850, or Title IX Officer 716-614-5951.

To access resources on the difference between the criminal and college disciplinary processes:

To gather more reporting information look up SAVR at:

Contact Information:

Public Safety Department
G-Building – G-106

Office of the Vice President for Student Services
2nd Floor, A building A-172

Title IX Officer
2nd Floor, A Building A-264

Niagara County Sheriff’s Office
5526 Niagara Street Ext, Lockport, NY

Things to know about filing a Police Report:

When the police arrive, they will address your medical needs first to assess whether you need to go to the hospital. The police will also interview you about what happened. This may be difficult, but it is very important in order to complete a police report. The interview is conducted in private, but you can request to have a friend or another supportive person accompany you if you wish. Advocates from YWCA of the Niagara Frontier 24/7 Rape Crisis/Domestic Violence hotline are available to be with you during the police interview. The police will get as much information as possible about the incident and investigate the case further.

Once an investigation is completed, the police refer the case to the District Attorney’s Office. The District Attorney’s Office decides whether or not your case will be prosecuted by considering factors such as the amount of evidence available to prove the charge(s) in court. If the District Attorney decides not to prosecute, this does not mean that the District Attorney doesn’t believe that you were assaulted. It means that based on experience, he/she does not believe that there is sufficient evidence to win the case.

Anonymous Sexual Assault Report
If you do not wish to file a police report or a College incident report an anonymous sexual assault (ASA) report can be filed. An ASA report is a completely anonymous report to SUNY Niagara Public Safety. The report is used to gather data on sexual assault to create a more effective response to survivors. You can find the report by clicking here.

Confidential Reporting Options
To report the assault in a confidential manner with no investigation or information reported to the institution, students may go to the Wellness Center or call the YWCA of the Niagara Frontier 24/7 Rape Crisis/Domestic Violence Hotline. Campus Security, Student Services, and Residence Life staff are considered mandatory reporters and incidents of sexual assault are documented to ensure proper protocol.

Counseling Services and Other Assistance

Counseling can be an integral part of recovery from a sexual assault. Counselors in the SUNY Niagara Wellness Center can provide mental health services for victims of sexual assault. Their services are free and confidential. They are located in C-122, and you may view their current schedule.

Counseling can also be arranged by contacting the YWCA of the Niagara Frontier 24/7 Rape Crisis/Domestic Violence Hotline at 716-433-6716. These services are also free and confidential.

After a sexual assault you may need to change your housing or academic schedule, contact the Office of the Vice President for Student Services (x 6240) or Residence Life at 716-731-8850 for more information.

If you are not sure how to think about what happened.

Sex should feel good, mutual, intimate. When it doesn’t, people sometimes don’t know how to define it. When the experience falls on the coercion/abuse side of the continuum people are reluctant to call it rape or sexual violence unless it happened on a dark street with a stranger. If you feel bad, taken advantage of or abused, you should take these feelings seriously even if you don’t know what label to put on the experience.

Confusion is a common response to an unexpected event. You did not intend or expect the situation to end with you feeling uncomfortable, bad or taken advantage of. It may take some time to process the unexpected, and possibly violent, turn of events. Accept your confusion as natural and pay attention to your other feelings and responses.

Many people minimize the significance of an event and minimize the strength of their emotional response when something bad happens to them. In a way this can be an adaptive strategy, but it also can make it more difficult to deal with what happened. Be careful not to dismiss your feelings of discomfort too quickly.

You may also be concerned that your decisions and actions contributed to the bad outcome and worry that it’s your fault. You are right in taking responsibility for your own decisions and actions, but you are not responsible for the actions of the other person, nor are you in any way “deserving” of what happened to you.

If in your gut you feel that something “bad” or “wrong” happened and that you feel uncomfortable, hurt, angry, etc. then you need to take this gut awareness seriously. It is a fallacy that people over report sexual assault. In fact it is one of the most under reported crimes.

The Wellness Center counselors or a YWCA Rape Crisis/Domestic Violence advocate can assist students who want to process their thoughts and feelings so they can fully deal with what happened. They can answer questions, be someone to talk to, offer emotional support, and provide referrals. All services are free and confidential.

Defining Sexual Assault/Rape

The New York State Penal code broadly defines sexual assault as engaging in sexual intercourse (vaginal, oral, anal) with another person without such person’s consent.

The Student Code of Conduct defines sexual assault as “Forced sexual acts or any sexual contact against one’s will as defined in NYS Penal Law section 130.00(3)” of the Student Code of Conduct.

SUNY Niagara Policy Concerning Sexual Assault

SUNY Niagara does not condone any form of sexual assault committed by any member of the College Community. Where there is probable cause to believe that the campus’ regulations prohibiting sexual assault have been violated, the campus will pursue strong disciplinary action through its own channels. This discipline includes the possibility of suspension or dismissal from the College.

A student charged with sexual assault can be prosecuted under New York State criminal statutes and disciplined under the Student Code of Conduct. Even if the criminal justice authorities choose not to prosecute, the College can pursue disciplinary action. A student may be charged under the Student Code of Conduct.

In addressing cases of sexual assault SUNY Niagara works to ensure fairness and to provide support for all persons involved, especially the victims. Students who have questions about the procedures and protections provided in these cases are encouraged to contact the Office of the Vice President for Student Services and/or the Public Safety Department. Students are also encouraged to take advantage of the counseling services offered through the Wellness Center for further assistance.

SUNY Niagara recognizes the following definition of consent:


Consent is the agreement to engage in specific sexual contact, which may be given by verbal agreement or active and willing participation in the sexual activity. Consent to sexual contact or any specific sexual act cannot be given if an individual is incapacitated or impaired because of a physical or mental condition or the ingestion of drugs or alcohol, or under the age of 17. Silence, previous sexual relationships, current relationships, or the use of alcohol and/or drugs is not an indication of consent. The use of force, threat of force, threat of immediate or future harm, or use of physical intimidation to secure compliance with sexual activity is evidence of lack of consent. Consent may be initially given, but it may be revoked at any point, either verbally, through physical resistance, or by losing consciousness. Failure to cease sexual contact promptly in response to a withdrawal of consent constitutes prohibited non-consensual sexual contact. “No” or any other negative statement or acts/physical gestures supporting the desire to cease contact in response to sexual contact or an invitation to sexual contact will be regarded as a denial of consent to such sexual contact.

Understanding Sexual Assault

What is Sexual Assault?

Sexual assault is any unwanted, coerced, or forced sexual contact or intercourse with someone who does not give or is unable to give consent (e.g. under the influence of alcohol or drugs or asleep). Sexual assault can involve the sexual penetration of a body orifice, but also includes other unwanted sexual contact. Most survivors will know their perpetrator(s); they may be a friend, current or former partner, classmate, co-worker, or date. Sexual assault can happen to women and men, individuals who are straight, bi-sexual, gay, or lesbian. Alcohol, date rape drugs or other substances may also be involved in the sexual assault.

A common myth is that your assailant will be a stranger that jumps out of the bushes and assaults you. However, it is far more likely that your assailant will be an acquaintance.

According to a Department of Justice report, “Ninety percent of college women who are victims of rape or attempted rape know their assailant. The attacker is usually a classmate, friend, boyfriend, ex-boyfriend, or other acquaintance (in that order).”

Survivors of  sexual assault can be women or men, and sexual assault can occur between individuals of the same sex or gender. While more than 90% of survivors are women, men are also sexually assaulted and raped, usually by other men; 98% of men who rape other men identify themselves as heterosexual in consensual sexual relationships.

  • Offenders are always responsible for the choice to assault someone else.
  • Sexual assault is never the fault of the survivor.
  • The only person that can prevent this crime from occurring is the perpetrator of it.

Risk Reduction

Self Assessment

  • Beware of stereotypes which prevent you from acting as you want to (such as a woman not being able to initiate sex, or a man not being able to say “no”).
  • Think about what you really want, emotionally and sexually, from or with the other person.


  • Feel good about yourself, and if you do not – get yourself involved in activities and with people who will make you feel better.
  • Limit you alcohol and other drug consumption. Most acquaintance rapes happen when one or both people are intoxicated or high.
  • Those who are survivors of abuse as children are more likely to be victims or perpetrators of sexual assault in adulthood. Consider seeking professional care if you are a survivor of childhood abuse.


  • After determining what you want, communicate your needs and set clear limits for acceptable behavior (such as “Would you like to have sex?” or “No touching below the waist.”).
  • Believe and act as if your needs are important, without exploiting others.
  • Listen to what the other person is saying, and pay attention to the words. For example, if you hear “no” or “stop,”, then immediately end any sexual interactions.
  • Pay attention to nonverbal cues.
  • Treat each other as equals, and expect to be treated in a respectful manner.


Observe how the environment around you is changing (such as your being left at a party by your friends when you do not know how you will get home).

Know Your Rights

  • You have the right to determine what type of interactions you will have with another person.
  • You have the right to end sexual activity at any point, regardless of how far sexual intimacy has gone.
  • You have the right to fulfill your sexual needs without violating another person’s rights.

Know Which Behaviors Constitute Sexual Assault

  • It is a crime to force another person to have unwanted sexual contact.
  • It is a crime to have sex with someone who is passed out due to drug or alcohol use and is unable to express consent.

To Reduce Your Risk of Becoming a Victim

Observe Your Feelings and Behavior

  • Ask yourself: “Am I able to say ‘no’ if I am uncomfortable with what is happening?”
  • Be aware when others attempt to violate your personal space.
  • Do not assume that someone who has been nonviolent in the past will be nonviolent in the future.
  • Observe the behavior of those around you.
  • Trust your own instincts at all times. If you feel uneasy, there is a reason for it. Listen to the voice inside you and act on it.

Communicate Your Feelings and Needs

  • Before you find yourself alone with a date, clarify your intentions with each other.
  • Be physically assertive. Do not “shrink” physically. Look confident and competent. It’s important that your words and actions be consistent.
  • Be prepared for men to react to assertiveness. Oftentimes, men are not prepared for women to demand respect and do not know how to deal with it. Some men may react nastily, others may be sheepish and shrink away, while some may critically examine their behavior for the first time, and move toward change.
  • Be verbally assertive. Assertive responses are direct, honest, appropriate and spontaneous. Speak in calm, controlled manner while looking directly at the harasser. Examples include, “I don’t want you to touch me like that. I want you to stop now.”
  • Men who consciously or subconsciously believe in the myth of endless female sexual desire (i.e. girls really want it even when they say no) are dangerous. Behaving passively or submissively can foster that myth. Always be direct and assertive in all communications throughout an evening, from what you choose to eat at dinner to what you are interested in sexually.

Use Your Power to be in Control

  • Always ask a repair or delivery person for identification before opening the door.
  • Be aware of the amount of alcohol consumed by you or by an acquaintance. Sexual assaults are more likely to occur after one or both individuals have consumed alcohol.
  • Be aware of your environment and escape routes within your environment.
  • Be prepared to provide yourself with the means of leaving a dangerous situation. Have a back-up plan in place, including access to a phone, cab fare, a friend with a car, etc.
  • Because there is an unfortunate desire by some in our society to resist intervening in an abusive situation — particularly when the conflict involves a couple — yell “Fire!” rather than “Rape!” or “Help!” if you need help in getting out of a dangerous situation.
  • Do not give out personal information. Many times, women are asked to disclose a lot of personal information; i.e., their name, residence, place of employment, etc.
  • If you feel uncomfortable, threatened, or do not like how you are being treated emotionally or physically, then leave the situation immediately. Emotional abuse escalates to physical abuse.
  • Maintain your boundaries and rules of conduct at all times, regardless of how well you know someone.
  • Rely on your own resources. Maximize and develop your strength, power, and control. Take self defense classes and be prepared to protect yourself.

To Reduce the Risk of Perpetrating a Crime…

Observe Your Behavior

  • Do not feel as if you always have to initiate sexual contact. Do not initiate if you do not want to.
  • If you find yourself being manipulative towards others, emotionally or sexually, STOP. Do not exploit others.
  • “No” means no. “Stop” means stop what you are doing immediately!
  • Pay attention to all messages, verbal and nonverbal.
  • Sustain your integrity. Observe the behavior of those around you.
  • Use peer pressure positively to stop abusive behaviors which may lead to acquaintance assaults. Condemn, rather than condone, the behavior of a peer who has taken advantage of a sexual partner.

Know the Facts

  • Acquaintance rape and other sexual assaults are crimes. It is a crime to have intercourse with someone against their will. Are you willing to go to jail for a non-consensual sexual act?
  • Most sexual assaults occur between people who know each other.

Adapted from Bowling Green State College’s Coalition Against Sexual Offenses

How to help a survivor

Things to know when assisting a survivor of sexual assault:

  • Avoid asking “why” questions such as, “Why did you get so drunk?” or “Why did you go home with him?” “Why” questions serve no purpose when assisting a survivor and may cause them to blame themselves for the assault.
  • Do not use victim blaming statements. For example, “What did you expect when you went to his room?” or “You should have reported this to the police.”
  • Focus on listening instead of offering advice or asking questions.
  • Let survivors make their own decisions on how they want to handle their assault. Survivors of sexual assault experienced power and control being taken away from them. Never tell them what they “should” do. You can provide options but the survivor should decide what is best for them.
  • Let them know how much support you can give. Tell the person your limits about how much time and energy you can give rather than making unrealistic promises.
  • Not everyone will react to a sexual assault in the same manner. There is no “right way” to handle a sexual assault.
  • Survivors will feel a variety of emotions during the healing process. Let the person express her/his feelings.

YWCA of the Niagara Frontier 24/7 Rape Crisis/Domestic Violence advocates and the Wellness Center counselors provide survivors (and individuals assisting survivors) with emotional support, someone to talk to, and referrals for medical and legal options; in a setting that is non-judgmental. Services are free and confidential. If you are assisting a survivor and need help please contact the YWCA of the Niagara Frontier 24/7 Rape Crisis/Domestic Violence Hotline or a SUNY Niagara Wellness Center counselor. Assisting someone who is coping with the aftermath of sexual assault can be a very difficult and confusing process.

Impact of sexual assault

The emotional trauma caused by a sexual assault can be severe and long-lasting. You may be affected in many different ways. Although each person is unique, there are some feelings and reactions that most sexual assault survivors experience. It can be helpful for you to know about these responses. You may experience some or all of these symptoms. They may occur immediately, or you may have a delayed reaction weeks or months later. Certain situations, such as seeing the assailant or testifying in court, may intensify the symptoms or cause them to reoccur after a period during which you have been feeling better. Please remember that all of your feelings and reactions are a normal part of recovery and it can help to talk with someone about how you are feeling.

Students’ Bill of Rights

The State University of New York and SUNY Niagara are committed to providing options, support and assistance to victims/survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and/or stalking to ensure that they can continue to participate in College programs, activities, and employment. All victims/survivors of these crimes and violations, regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, creed, age, disability, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, familial status, pregnancy, predisposing genetic characteristics, military status, domestic violence victim status, or criminal conviction, have the following rights, regardless of whether the crime or violation occurs on campus, off campus, or while studying abroad:

All students have the right to:

  1. Make a report to local law enforcement and/or state police.
  2. Have disclosures of domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, and sexual assault treated seriously.
  3. Make a decision about whether or not to disclose a crime or violation and participate in the judicial or conduct process and/or criminal justice process free from pressure from the institution.
  4. Participate in a process that is fair, impartial, and provides adequate notice and a meaningful opportunity to be heard.
  5. Be treated with dignity and to receive from the institution courteous, fair, and respectful health care and counseling services, where available.
  6. Be free from any suggestion that the reporting individual is at fault when these crimes and violations are committed, or should have acted in a different manner to avoid such crimes or violations.
  7. Describe the incident to as few institutional representatives as practical, and not to be required to unnecessarily repeat a description of the incident.
  8. Be protected from retaliation by the institution, the accused and/or respondent, and/or their friends, family and acquaintances within the jurisdiction of the institution.
  9. Access to at least one level of appeal of a determination.
  10. Be accompanied by an advisor of choice who may assist and advise a reporting individual, accused, or respondent throughout the judicial or conduct process including during all meetings and hearings related to such process.
  11. Exercise civil rights and practice of religion without interference by the investigative, criminal justice, or judicial or conduct process of the institution.

Options in Brief:

Victims/survivors have many options that can be pursued simultaneously, including one or more of the following:

  • Confidentially or anonymously disclose a crime or violation and find additional information: (
  • Make a report to:
    • An institution employee with the authority to address complaints, including the Title IX Officer, Vice President for Student Services, or Assistant Vice President of Human Resources and Title IX Coordinator (Employees).
    • Family Court or Civil Court.
    • Niagara County Sheriff’s Office or State Police.
    • Public Safety Department.
  • Receive resources, such as counseling and medical attention.


  • We can be reached by calling: 614-6400 from an off campus line.
  • Calling extension, 555 or 6400 from on-campus Sanborn phones or ext 2555 from NFCI phones.
  • Blue phones on the Sanborn Campus by lifting receiver
  • Blue phones outside the Student Housing Village by pressing button
  • By reporting directly to our offices; Sanborn Campus – G-106, NFCI Office – Reception