Sexual Assault

Lehigh Policy
Pennsylvania Law
If you've been assaulted
Myth v. Facts
Risk Reduction
Date Rape Drugs
Helping Survivors
Men Preventing Sexual Assault
Faculty and Staff Resources

Lehigh Policy

Sexual assault is a problem that plagues college and university campuses throughout the United States. One in four women and one in ten men will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime.

Whether you believe it or not, you know someone that has, or will be sexually assaulted. There are things we can do to prevent sexual assault, but it will require everyone, men and women, to work together to make Lehigh University, and our society as a whole, a safer place for the people we care about.

Lehigh University defines sexual assault as

"rape, attempted rape, unwanted touching of intimate parts of another person, or subjecting a person to physical sexual contact against his/her will or without his/her consent. A person who is unable to make a reasonable judgment concerning the nature of harmfulness of the activity because of his or her intoxication, unconsciousness, mental deficiency or incapacity, is considered unable to give consent."

To read more about Lehigh University's policy on sexual assault see the online version of the University Policy and Guidelines .

If you've been assaulted

If you have been sexually assaulted you have the option to:

  • Report the incident to the police
  • Contact the LUPD to determine the appropriate law enforcement agency to report the incident to
  • If you have concerns about talking to the police, advocates can describe to you the process and discuss your concerns about prosecution Seek medical attention
  • You may have contracted a Sexually Transmitted Disease or become pregnant as a result of the assault. Emergency STD and pregnancy prevention is available at local hospitals and the LU Health Center.
  • Evidence for prosecution can be collected at a local hospital within 72 hours of the assault. Also, emergency contraception is much more effective within three days.
  • At Lehigh Valley Hospital, Muhlenburg campus, evidence is collected by Sexual Assault Forensic Examiners (SAFEs). SAFEs are nurses who are specially trained to treat survivors of sexual assault and collect evidence for prosecution. The same program is at St Luke's Hospital in Bethlehem where those nurses are called Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANEs).

Contact an advocate

  • The LU Dean of Students office has advocates on call 24 hours a day.
  • Advocates are available to accompany you to the hospital, explain the process of a police interview, and address other concerns you may have about what happens next.

Call the Break the Silence Sexual Violence Peer Hotline (610-974-HOPE)

  • Hotline calls are answered by students who have completed 30 hours of training on how to help students with sexual assault issues.
  • Hotline volunteers will keep all information shared with them confidential, and the identity of the caller is anonymous.
  • The hotline is a safe place to learn more about the options you have if you have experienced a sexual assault.

Seek counseling

  • Visiting a counselor is a sign of strength, not weakness
  • Counselors are trained to help you make sense of your thoughts and feelings, and can be very beneficial in your healing process

Myth v. Facts

Sexual assault is a crime that is widely misunderstood by our society. Acceptance of rape myths contributes to the trauma that survivors face after the assault, and also to the extremely low report rate to police. Here are a few myths that are most damaging to survivors of sexual assault.

Myth : Sexual assault is an infrequent crime that affects only a few members of society.
Fact : Sexual assault is a problem of pandemic proportions in the United States.

  • 1 in 4 women in the United States will be the victim of rape or attempted rape after the age of 14 (Koss, 1985; Warsaw, 1988).
  • 3% of all college women will be raped each academic year (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2000).

Myth : Sexual assault usually occurs when a stranger attacks a woman in an isolated area like a parking garage or dark alley.
Fact : 85% of sexual assaults occur between people who know each other (Warsaw, 1994). Rapists can be strangers, but most often they are people the victims know and trust. They can be husbands, boyfriends, relatives, and other individuals in that person's life.

Myth: Women often lie about being raped because they regret having sex the night before, or they want to get back at the guy for something.
Fact: The FBI reports that only about 8% of reported sexual assaults are deemed "unfounded."(Uniform Crime Reports, 1996) This is about the same rate as every other violent crime. The fact is that very few women maliciously lie about being sexually assaulted for personal gain.

Myth: She was dressed provocatively, she was drunk, and she went to his apartment. Maybe she didn't deserve to be raped, but what was she thinking? What happened to her was her fault.
Fact: No one deserves to be sexually assaulted. She may use bad judgment in your opinion, but what happened to her wasn't her fault. She may have chosen to go to his apartment, but he made the choice to sexually assault her. No matter what she did in the time leading up to the assault, he made a conscious choice to do what he did, and he should be held responsible for his actions.

Myth: Women who are really raped will report to the police and seek medical attention immediately.
Fact: The majority of women who experience rape will not report to the police or seek medical attention.

  • According to one study, 36% of rapes were reported to the police (Rennison, 2002).
  • Out of the 64% of survivors who did not report, only 17% received medical attention (Rennison, 2002).

Myth: Males cannot be sexually assaulted.
Fact: Males experience sexual abuse at an alarming rate, especially as young children. Most male survivors are abused by other men, most commonly men they know and trust.

Male survivors often feel guilt, shame, and blame themselves for the abuse. Although most male sexual abuse survivors are heterosexual, many fear being the target of homophobic attitudes if they report the assault.

Also, male survivors fear that no one will believe them, or that the person who abused them will hurt someone they care about if they report the abuse. As a result of these fears, male survivors of sexual abuse rarely report the assault to the authorities, and many don't disclose the abuse to anyone.

Myth: If someone I know was sexually assaulted, I would know about it.
Fact: If you have supported any of the above myths in the past, why do you think someone who has been sexually assaulted would feel comfortable coming to you for help?

Think about all of the times you have been with your friends and you've made a comment about women lying about rape, or about how she was stupid for going to his room and that you would never do something like that.

Every time a survivor hears someone supporting one of these myths they think to themselves, "There's another person who doesn't care." We need to stop supporting these myths and educate ourselves about what sexual assault really is. Once we start doing this, more people who have been sexually assaulted are going to get the help they need and perpetrators of this crime will no longer get away with hurting the people we care about.

Risk Reduction

Although sexual violence is never your fault, here are some suggestions to help you reduce your risk of being assaulted.

  • Trust your gut. If you don't feel comfortable in a situation, leave.
  • Be in charge of your own life. Don't put yourself in a situation where you have to rely on other people to take care of you. Also, when on a date, don't feel you "owe" that person anything.
  • Be cautious inviting someone into your room or going to someone else's room.
  • Do not mix sexual decisions with drugs and alcohol. Your ability to make smart decisions is hampered when you are drunk or high.
  • When going out with someone new, don't feel you have to go alone. Go on a group date or meet in a public place.
  • Be aware of date rape drugs. Don't accept beverages from open containers and don't leave your drink unattended.
  • Avoid falling for lines such as "If you loved me." If your partner loved you, he/she would respect your feelings and wait until you are ready.
  • Avoid individuals who:
    • don't listen to you
    • ignore personal space boundaries
    • make you feel guilty or accuse you of being "uptight" for resisting sexual advances
    • express sexists attitudes and jokes
    • act jealous or possessive
  • Communicate. Think about what you really want before you get into a sexual situation, and communicate clearly with your partner. If you think you are getting mixed messages, ask your date what he/she wants.
  • Be assertive. Respect yourself enough not to do anything you don't want to do. Your opinions matter, and when you say "no," your date should stop.

Rape Drugs

Rapists use alcohol and other drugs to make it easier for them to control their victims. It is important to understand that any drug can be used as a rape drug if one person is impaired and the other person is not. The following is a list of drugs that are most commonly used to facilitate a rape.


Alcohol is the most common drug used to facilitate rape. It is the most popular because it is legal if you're over 21, it's socially acceptable, and it's easy to get. Rapists know that it is easier to separate someone from their support system if they are drunk, and they take advantage of the social acceptance of alcohol use. Alcohol also intensifies the effects of other drugs used to facilitate rape (GHB, Roofies).


GHB (Gamma Hydroxy Butyrate)

GHB is gaining popularity because it can be made at home. Some of the ingredients include floor stripper, drain cleaner, and engine degreaser. Although it is used recreationally, high doses can cause incapacitation and can even be fatal. When put in a beverage, GHB is hard to detect.

Although it has a slightly salty taste, it is usually put in a strong drink like a Long Island Ice Tea to mask the taste. Symptoms begin to show about 15-20 minutes after ingestion, and last between 6-8 hours.

Some symptoms of being dosed with GHB include:

  • Rapid intoxication
  • Slurred speech
  • Poor motor control
  • Vomiting
  • Decreased sexual inhibitions
  • Periods of amnesia or blackouts

Special K

** If you think you or someone you know has been dosed with GHB, it is extremely important to get to the hospital as soon as possible. GHB overdose is life threatening, and medical attention is vital to recovery.

Roofies (Rohypnol)

Roofies is a white or blue pill that is used as a sleep aid outside of the United States. When it is slipped into a drink, it dissolves and is odorless, colorless, and tasteless.

Roofies are extremely popular and easily accessible in southern states such as Florida, Texas, and southern California because Rohypnol is legal in Mexico. Symptoms begin to show 15-30 minutes after ingestion and last up to 8 hours. Symptoms produced by roofies include:

  • Rapid intoxication
  • Slurred speech
  • Usually no vomiting
  • Unconsciousness/lethargy
  • Amnesia - very little, if any memory
  • Hangover - wake up with a "fuzzy" feeling that may last up to three days

Roofies overdose is very uncommon. It is important to visit the hospital and get tested if you or a friend has been dosed with roofies. This will aid in criminal prosecution if charges are filed.

Drug Testing

GHB can be tested in the urine up to 12 hours after ingestion. Roofies can be tested in the urine up to 72 hours after ingestion. It is very important to go to the hospital as soon as possible to get tested.

These drugs leave the body at a very fast rate, and any evidence of their presence can be lost within hours. You must ask specifically for a drug test, because it is not part of normal protocol. If you do not ask, they may not test for drugs, and the evidence could be lost.

Risk Reduction

To reduce your risk of being drugged, follow these simple, but very important safety tips:

  • Always open your own drink. If you're at a restaurant, watch the server or bartender open it.
  • Never drink from punch bowls or other common containers. If you are having a mixed drink, make your own.
  • Never leave your drink unattended. Pay close attention to where your drink is, and who is around you at all times.
  • Know your limitations. Avoid drinking to excess, and be aware of your surroundings.

Most importantly, watch out for each other. If you are out with friends, and one of them becomes extremely intoxicated in an unusually short period of time, this is a warning sign. Get your friend to a safe place and to a hospital immediately.

Perpetrators will play the part of the rescuer in these situations, and offer to take care of your friend so you don't have to ruin your night. Even if you think the man offering to take your friend home is a nice guy, take her home yourself. If you allow your friend to leave with someone else, the results could be catastrophic.

Helping Survivors

These are a few things that you can do to help someone recover from a rape experience. Since 90% of sexual assault survivors are female (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1998) and 99% of perpetrators are male (Greenfield, 1997), the language will reflect female survivors.

This is not meant to minimize the trauma experienced by men who are sexually abused. In fact, these tips can be helpful for both male and female survivors of sexual assault. It is important, however, to understand that all survivors do not react the same way to being raped.

Different people find different things helpful in their recovery. These are examples of reactions that most people have when they survive sexual assault and what tends to be most helpful to them if they come to you for help.

Believe the Survivor

  • The single most important factor in a survivor's recovery from sexual assault is whether or not he/she is believed.
  • Don't blame the person or agree with him/her if they blame themselves. What happened to him/her was not their fault.


  • In general it is better to listen more, and talk less.
  • Don't ask "why" questions. If you ask the person, "Why did you go home with him/her?" it implies that what happened could have been avoided and was his/her fault. Try to avoid asking these types of questions.
  • Listen to what the person wants to say, and don't judge their statements. He/She may have done some things that you do not agree with, but the person didn't ask to be raped.
  • Follow the person's lead while listening to them. Some survivors may want a hug and some may not want to be touched. Before you do anything, ask him/her if it's OK.

No more violence

Some men's first instinct is to find the perpetrator who raped his friend or loved one and get revenge with violence. It is normal to feel angry when someone you love has been hurt, but dealing with the anger with violence can be harmful.

Although it may make you feel better for a short period of time, it won't make things better for your friend. It won't help him/her recover from the assault, and it may make things worse for him/her. Just be there for him/her, and find a different, healthier outlet for the anger that you are feeling.

Medical attention

It is important that the person goes to the hospital for medical attention, particularly within the first three days. This will allow them to save evidence, so he/she can decide later whether to be a witness in a criminal case against his/her attacker.

Other concerns include STD and pregnancy testing, counseling, and treatment of the person's injuries. He/She may even have internal injuries that they are not aware of. It is important to understand that all you can do is suggest that the perosn goes to the hospital and take him/her if he/she wants to go. If the person doesn't want to go right away, it's their choice not to go. Don't pressure him/her to do something they don't want to do.

If your friend decides to visit the hospital and requests a rape evidence exam, the police will be notified. This does not mean that your friend must talk with police and file a report. Your friend has a choice whether or not he/she speaks with the police.

Help him/her regain control

  • Sexual assault is a very disempowering experience. Your friend may not have confidence in his/her decision making ability, and it's important that you help him/her regain a sense of control over their life.
  • Support his/her decions about whether or not they want to report to the police, go to the hospital, or even when he/she wants to talk about the assault.
  • Accept his/her decisions even if you don't agree, unless the person is harming themselves. Eating disorders, drug abuse, and other unhealthy coping mechanisms may arise after the assault. If they do, tell your friend that you are concerned and that you want to help.
  • Be patient, it may take him/her a long time to make decisions.

Realize your limitations

  • Survivors often remain in acute trauma for three months or more. At least one year, if not longer for recovery is common, even with counseling.
  • Some survivors take years to recover, especially if they can't confide in someone or think that they are not believed.
  • When you feel it's appropriate, refer your friend to counseling.
  • It is usually better not to talk about your own feelings with your friend, especially if you are angry. We suggest you think about talking to a counselor yourself. This will give you a safe place to talk about your feelings, and also to get advice about how to better help your friend.

For a list of resources that are available to assist you and your friend, click here

Men Preventing Sexual Assault

Men can do more than not being a rapist to prevent sexual assault. Most men are good men that do not commit any form of sexual violence. Unfortunately, many good men silently condone abusive and predatory behavior by other men.

Men have a profound influence on their peers and what is thought of as acceptable behavior. Good men in our society need to take a stand and send the message that sexual violence of any kind is not acceptable. Here are a few things men can do to help prevent sexual violence.

Communicate - Never assume anything

Make sure you know what your partner has agreed to sexually. Never assume anything, especially if alcohol or drugs are involved. If you ever doubt that what you are doing is consensual, remember a simple rule: Stop what you're doing, Ask your partner if what you are doing is ok, and Clarify what you can do together.

Challenge sexist and abusive behaviors

  • Confront abusive and demeaning language - speak up when you hear men referring to women in a derogatory manner. Jokes about rape and other violence against women aren't funny. They perpetuate the idea that violence against women is acceptable in our society.
  • Support gender equality - don't accept stereotypes that portray women as helpless or sexualized objects. Support women's rights by acknowledging the fact that women and men are equals.
  • Condemn abuse of women - If a man you know brags about forcing himself on a woman, condemn his behavior. Don't support violence against women of any kind.

If you see something suspicious, DO SOMETHING!

Some people find themselves in a position to prevent a rape from occurring.

Many times when a woman is assaulted by a man, other men know about the assault, especially when rape drugs like alcohol and GHB are involved. If you are in this position, and you choose not to get involved, you are condoning the rapist's actions.

If you can't confront the person yourself, talk to his friends, or warn the woman or her friends of your suspicions. If those options aren't possible, notify a bartender or the host of the party and ask them to confront the behavior.

The important thing is that you don't ignore the situation and you do something to help.

Get Involved

  • Educate yourself - by learning more about sexual violence, you increase your ability to prevent it.
  • Attend Women's Center programs, Take Back the Night rallies, and other events to show support for survivors.
  • Join the Break the Silence Sexual Violence Peer Education group. If you are interested, contact Michelle Issadore.

Faculty and Staff Resources

You may come in contact with students who disclose an experience of sexual assault. The best way to help such a student is to follow the suggestions below and direct him or her to one of the resources listed.

  • When survivors disclose, it is important to BELIEVE THEM and let them know you are concerned about their well-being.
  • If the assault occurred in the past 72 hours, urge the student to seek help immediately.
  • Evidence from a physical examination must be collected within this time frame and emergency contraception will be most effective.
  • If the disclosure occurs through a written assignment, offer a note on the assignment or an email prior to returning the assignment. Recognize their experience and offer assistance ("I'm sorry. If you would like to know about resources available to you on campus, I can help.")
  • DO NOT hold the assignment or require the student to speak with you after class.
  • By being aware of resources and referring students to offices where they can receive assistance, you are increasing the likelihood that students who experience sexual violence will be able to overcome this traumatic event and excel academically.
  • Both graduate and undergraduate students may contact Lehigh University resources at any time for help.
  • If you are planning to show or read material(s) referencing or depicting sexual violence, announce such plans in advance. Consider providing alternate assignments for affected students.

If you have questions about how to handle a specific situation, please contact: Susan Lantz, Associate Dean of Students for Academic Support and Dean of Students Sexual Assault Advocate at 610-758-4159, Monday through Friday, 8am-5pm.

On Campus

Break the Silence sexual violence peer hotline : 610-974-HOPE

Trained student volunteers answer 24/7 during the fall and spring semesters. Calls are anonymous and all information is kept confidential.

Dean of Students advocates : 610-758-4159 during business hours

Contact person: Susan Lantz, UC Room 210. Call 610-974-HOPE to be connected 24/7. Trained staff members specialize in assisting students after a sexual assault experience. DOS advocates offer emotional support, address academic concerns, and explain options.

Lehigh University Police Department : 610-758-4200
Students have the right to report. The LUPD is open 24/7.

Counseling & Psychological Services : 610-758-3880

Health and Wellness Center : 610-758-3870

Off Campus

Crime Victims Council : 610-437-6611 (advocacy, counseling)

Turning Point : 610-437-3369 (relationship violence, shelter)

Lehigh Valley Hospital, Muhlenberg : 610-402-CARE
SAFE Nurses=Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner

St. Luke's Hospital : 610-954-4000
SANE Nurses= Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner






Gender Violence Prevention and Response