Sexual Misconduct FAQs

Here are some answers to common questions you, or someone else, may have about Sexual Misconduct.

 

General Questions
What is Sexual Misconduct?

The broad term “Sexual Misconduct” includes Title IX Prohibited Conduct as well as Sexual/Gender-Based Prohibited Conduct. You can learn more about these behaviors through this infographic.

What is sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment is defined as “unwelcome conduct on the basis of sex that a reasonable person would determine is so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to the University’s education programs or activities.” This sort of conduct could be unwelcome behaviors such as sexual advances or sex stereotyping.  

What is sexual assault?

Sexual assault is the most severe form of sexual harassment. It includes the following behaviors: forcible rape, forcible sodomy, sexual assault with an object, forcible fondling, incest, and statuatory rape. Forcible, in this context, means a behavior that occurred without consent.

Can I be a victim of Sexual Misconduct when it's someone I know/love/trust (such as a partner, spouse, friend, acquaintance)?

Yes. If a sexual activity takes place without consent or someone experiences behavior that constitutes sexual harassment, that is Sexual Misconduct. The relationship status of the involved individuals does not make a difference.

What is trauma?

Trauma is an emotional response to a terrible event, such as a sexual assault. Trauma looks different for everyone, and any reaction that one may be experiencing is valid and okay.

What if there are no witnesses to the Sexual Misconduct?

Presence, or lack thereof, of witnesses does not influence the verdict on whether or not the Sexual Misconduct occurred.

What is retaliation?

Retaliation is defined as any adverse action, or any action likely to keep an individual from engaging in future protected activity, taken against a person for making a good faith report of Prohibited Conduct, participating in any proceeding under this policy, and/or acting in good faith to oppose conduct that constitutes a violation of this policy. It includes behaviors such as threatening, intimidating, harassing, coercing or discriminating against an individual because the person made a report or complaint, testified, assisted, participated in, or refused to participate in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, and/or hearing. Retaliation may still be present even where there is a finding of “no responsibility” on the allegations of Prohibited Conduct, and does not include good faith actions lawfully pursued in response to a report of Prohibited Conduct or the exercise of rights protected under the First Amendment.

What resources are available to protect me against retaliation if I file a report?

The resources available to protect you against retaliation include offices such as law enforcement, the Title IX Office, the Student Safety and Support Team (in the case of students). Resources can be found in either the Support for Students section or the Support for Employees section. If you feel you are an immediate danger, the Title IX Office urges you to call 911.

I’m feeling a lot of different emotions, is that normal?

Reactions to a traumatic experience vary from individual to individual, meaning there is not really a “normal” because everyone is different. There can be both physical and emotional reactions such as changes in sleep/eating patterns, feeling “on-edge,” headaches, anxiety, self-blame, and lack of concentration. This list is not exhaustive, and whatever you may be feeling in reaction to the incident is perfectly valid and there are resources available for you if you would like them.

 

Incapacitation and Consent Questions
How do I know if someone is incapacitated and can’t consent to sexual conduct?

Common signs of incapacitation include difficulty balancing or stumbling around, vomiting, bloodshot or unfocused eyes, slurred or incomprehensible speech, and unconsciousness. You can also infer incapacity if someone has consumed a large amount of alcohol in a short time. If you are unsure of whether or not someone is incapacitated, it is recommended that sexual activity be avoided altogether.

What if someone is incapacitated but still gives consent?

Consent, as it is defined by the University, cannot occur if the individual is incapacitated. All parties must be of sound mind in order to consent.

I am underage and was intoxicated at the time of the misconduct; will I be charged for underage drinking if I report?

The University will not pursue disciplinary action against those who were underage and intoxicated at the time of the incident; more information can be found here

What do I do if I suspect I’ve been drugged and sexually assaulted?

If you believe you have been drugged and sexually assaulted, please refer to the Immediate Assistance resources in either the Support for Students section or the Support for Employees section. Chances of getting proof that you were drugged are best when the sample is obtained soon after ingesting the substance. However, depending on the substance, a test can be reliable even on a sample obtained after 72 hours. 

How can I reduce my risk of being drugged and sexually assaulted?

First, it is important to remember that being drugged, being sexually assaulted, or both, is never the fault of the victim. Even with that, there are strategies that you can use to reduce the risk of an incident occurring such as not leaving drinks unattended, watching your drink being made, not accepting open containers from anyone, communicating often with friends about your plans and location, and staying alert for both yourself and your friends.

What if I initiated the sexual conduct, does that mean I consented to what happened to me after?

No, even if you initially consented to something, consent needs to be obtained at each step in a sexual activity. If you did not consent to what occurred following your initiation of sexual conduct, then that is sexual assault.

Do I need to physically resist the sexual conduct in order to establish that I do not give consent?

No, physical resistance is not required in order to establish that you do not give consent. Lack of a negative response, such as physical resistance, does not constitute consent for a sexual activity.

Does getting an erection or ejaculating during sexual activities constitute consent?

No, if you do not give consent that was voluntary, informed, enthusiastic, and from a sound mind, then you did not consent. Bodily functions such as getting an erection or ejaculation do not equal consent.

Reporting and Supporting Questions
What can I do if I or someone I know was sexually assaulted?

All members of the University community are encouraged to report/disclose instances, whether experienced firsthand or as a witness, with sexual misconduct to get the support they deserve and a proper University response. The University’s reporting resources can be found here If you are looking for support before, during, or after reporting, please see our Help and Support section. If you are looking for visual aids on the steps involved in the reporting, investigation, and resolution processes, click here.

Does it matter when I report the sexual assault?

While reporting sooner after the incident rather than later can be beneficial if an investigation occurs (in the case of evidence collection and contacting witnesses), you can always report to law enforcement and/or the University, regardless of when the incident occurred.

Do I have to go to a hospital to have a sexual assault forensic exam (SAFE)/ “rape kit” completed?

For employees, the only location that provides no-cost SAFEs is the UVA Hospital/ Emergency Department. Students, while also being able to go to the hospital, have the choice of receiving rape kits at the Student Health and Wellness Center, also at no cost. More information can be found here

What are the benefits of reporting the sexual misconduct to the police?

Police are able to preserve evidence from the misconduct and/or surrounding circumstances, assist in safety planning for the complainant, accompany the complainant to medical treatment, assist in prosecuting the accused, and provide important knowledge on criminal proceedings, if that route is chosen.

What if I don’t want to file a criminal report?

Filing a criminal report is not at all required; the choice is entirely yours to make. If you choose not to file a criminal report, the Title IX Office still encourages you to look at both medical and non-medical resources. Resources can be found in either the Support for Students section or the Support for Employees section.

What can the University do for me if I don’t feel safe?

If you feel you are in immediate danger, call 911. The University is able to provide Supportive Measures, which may include revising class schedules, living situations, parking spots, etc… as well as having the ability to enforce a No-Contact Directive (NCD). NCDs can be learned more about here. UVA also has its own police department, the University Police Department, who are equipped to help you. You can c​ontact UPD at (434) 924-7166.

What rights do I have if I am accused of sexual misconduct?

Once you have been accused, federal offices state that you are owed the same supportive measures that are provided to Complainants. These resources, including CAPS, Student Health, and the Student Safety and Support Team, can be found in the Student Resources section as well as in the FAQ section on supportive measures. Remember, the Title IX Office is a neutral entity and your rights will be protected in the same way that the Complainant’s rights will be protected. These include the right to a lawyer/ fair counsel and the right to a trial. If you have further questions as a Respondent, please contact the Title IX Office.

I believe I’ve been falsely accused of sexual misconduct, what do I do?

Under the University’s Policy, anyone who knowingly files a false complaint and/or provides false information about an investigation, is subject to discipline under the Honor Code (and law). The Title IX Office urges you to come forward saying that you believe you have been falsely accused and provide any evidence that would aid in your case.

Specific Circumstances of Assault Questions
What if I share a class or residence hall location as the person who assaulted me?

If you contact the Title IX Office and/or the Student Safety and Support Team, they will be able to coordinate with you to work out reasonable Supportive Measures which may include changing class schedules and/or living arrangements. Your safety and protection is of the utmost importance to the University.

What if I am sexually assaulted in another country on a University-sponsored study abroad program?

If a sexual assault occurs while in another country on a University-sponsored study abroad program, you are still able to contact the University just as you would if the assault was in the United States. You are also encouraged to reach out to the faculty, administrator, or organizer who is in charge of your program. Additionally, you can report through justreportit, which will enable the mobilization of resources on-Grounds as well as support from your study abroad program if you choose. Furthermore, you are able to access confidential resources such as TimelyCare, the SARA hotline, and others. More information about available resources can be found in the Resources for Students section. If you experience challenges connecting to US-based resources, such as an anonymous hotline, let the Title IX Office or the Student Safety and Support Team know. You do not need to identify yourself to get assistance in accessing resources.

 

Stalking Questions
Are there warning signs to look for in a potential stalker?

While there is no guaranteed way to identify potential stalkers, as each perpetrator is different, there can be some common personality traits. Intimate partner/domestic violence stalkers are often self-centered, extremely jealous, possessive, obsessive, controlling, manipulative, and may be constantly questioning or interrogating you. 

Is stalking dangerous?

Yes, stalking is very dangerous. Stalking may take place over a long period of time and has the potential to cause severe physical and mental health consequences for the victim. If there is not a strong and efficient response, stalkers may feel justified in their behavior and may even escalate it further.

What should I do if I’m being stalked?

If you are being stalked and fear for your safety, call 911. If you would like assistance in figuring out/enacting Supportive Measures as a method of limiting or eliminating contact with your stalker, contact the Title IX Office and/or the Student Safety and Support Team. If you feel comfortable/safe enough to do so, you may also confront your stalker and firmly and clearly tell them that they need to stop their behavior. If they don’t stop, call 911. Please do not confront your stalker if you have any fear that the situation may escalate and end in physical harm. Also, keep any evidence you have of their stalking behavior (incidents, gifts, repeated texts, etc…); you can ask those close to you to support you in this. Above all, remember that you deserve to feel safe and there are many people and resources available to you to help you in this regard.

 

Harassment Questions
Can harassment be perpetrated by someone of the same gender?

Yes, anyone, regardless of gender, can experience or perpetrate harassment.

My professor/TA/coach is harassing me, what should I do?

If you feel your safety is in danger, please call 911. You can also report the harassment to UVA, using the resources here. If you would rather not report directly to the University, you have the option to report to the Albemarle Police Department as well. 

I am being harassed by someone who is not a student, faculty, or staff member at UVA, but comes to Grounds often to conduct business, what should I do?

You can report to the University just as you would if this individual was directly affiliated. If the perpetrator has a relationship with the University, such as being a regular volunteer on-Grounds, there are processes in place through the Title IX Office, UVA HR, and/or the UVA Health System that can end those relationships between UVA and this individual. If the perpetrator has no affiliation with UVA, such as an attendee of a sports game, there are prohibitions that can be discussed. This would include something such as that individual being banned from Grounds. 

What do I do if I am being sexually harassed by a UVA student, faculty, or staff member, but we are off-Grounds when the harassment occurs?

If you experience sexual harassment off-Grounds by someone directly affiliated with the University, you are still subject to the University’s non-Title IX policies. Regardless of where you are, you are still a part of UVA and your safety and wellbeing is of utmost importance to us. 

As faculty/ staff, what can I do to ensure that there is no sexual harassment in my office/department?

First of all, it is important to acknowledge that this question is a great one to be asking; the way we change our community is by ensuring that everyone makes this a responsibility and priority for them. There are a variety of things you can do. First, encourage faculty to include the Title IX Syllabus language, found here, in their course outlines and syllabi. This reinforces to both staffs and students that sexual misconduct is not allowed or tolerated and these behaviors can/will be reported. Furthermore, you are encouraged to lead by example and model good behavior. Be mindful of the language you use and urge others around you to also be mindful. The decisions we make on a small scale reflect the kind of environment we are creating at the University, and we want it to be one of care and respect. Also, please reach out if something is worrying you. This is another way to model good behaviors. Finally, the Title IX Office is available to provide training to offices/departments at any time.