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Sexual Violence and Assault

Anyone can experience sexual violence, regardless of age, gender, race, sexual orientation, ability, immigration or socioeconomic status. On this page you will find information, legal definitions, resources, and links you can use to learn more about sexual violence. It's important to remember that no one deserves to be harmed.

If you or someone you know has experienced sexual harm very recently, click on this link for information to consider in the first five days.

If you have experienced sexual violence at any time in the past, support is available. Click here for resources.

Click here for a list of key terms and definitions.

Brown takes any form of sexual violence very seriously. Click here to read more about the University's policy.

Definitions of sexual violence under Rhode Island law can be found in the RI Statutes.

I think I may have experienced sexual violence, what can I do?

After you have experienced harm, you may have concerns about safety, health, disclosure, and getting support and care. You can review the information below or you can call the Sexual Assault Response Line (401.863-6000) for a confidential counselor who can help you navigate these choices.

You might want to consider safety first. If you feel unsafe:

  • Go to a secure place as soon as you can and consider asking someone you trust to stay with you.

  • If you need immediate emergency assistance, call Brown EMS (401.863-4111) or 911.  

Another immediate consideration might include preserving evidence of the incident. If you are able, try to avoid drinking or eating, bathing, showering, cleaning your genital area (or using a product designed for genital hygiene), brushing your teeth, or changing your clothes. Evidence can be collected at a hospital emergency room, as well as testing for drugs and alcohol.  You can decide later whether or not you want to make a police report or press criminal charges. For more detailed information, visit the First Five Days page.

What can I do if I have health concerns?

Consider getting medical care. Options for care include Health Services, hospital emergency rooms, or other care facilities (ex, Planned Parenthood). This can be important even if you do not have any physical injuries. Medical care can include testing and treatment for STIs, drug screening, pregnancy prevention and options counseling, and evidence collection.  All services, with the exception of evidence collection and drug screening, are available at Health Services. For a detailed description of what services are available at different healthcare facilities and what might happen during a medical exam, see the Medical Care and the Forensic Exam section below.

If you think you were drugged or consumed a sedative-like substance, ask the medical provider at the hospital to take a urine sample. Predatory drugs like GHB and Rohypnol are more likely to be detected in urine than in blood. If you still have remnants of the drink, save them for analysis. Since many of these drugs clear the system quickly, a negative test result does not necessarily mean that no drug was involved.

There may be some time sensitive medical concerns, particularly within the first five days after an incident. Click here to learn more. For ongoing emotional support and care, talk with a counselor who is trained to assist victims of sexual assault. You can call one of the resources listed on this page.

Medical Care and the Forensic Exam

Even if you have no apparent injuries, it is still a good idea to consider medical care. Going to a health care facility, even though it might be difficult, is an important way for you to start taking care of yourself. You can decide what medical care you want or don't want. You may come to Health Services or you may go to any hospital you choose. If you need to be transferred from Health Services to another emergency care site, transport options are available and a SHARE Advocate can help you to access them.

At the hospital, you will be asked questions about your general health. If you are someone who could become pregnant, you will be asked about your menstrual history and your use of contraception. You will also be asked 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 and appropriate physical evaluation.

Then you can choose to have a physical exam. The clinician will check for external and internal injuries and test for any sexually transmitted infections. You may be given antibiotics to prevent infection. A pregnancy test will be done if appropriate and you will be given emergency contraceptive pills to prevent unintended pregnancy.

The medical providers will, with your permission, collect physical evidence to be used if you decide to prosecute. Collecting this physical evidence,during a Sexual Assault Forensic Exam is often called collecting a "rape kit." This cannot be done at Health Services, but must be done at an emergency room or hospital. Depending on the types of sexual contact that occurred, the search for physical evidence may include taking samples from the vagina, mouth, 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.

All exam findings are completely confidential and can only be released with your written consent. 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.

Going to the hospital does not mean that you have to make a report to the police. That is your choice. The hospital staff will probably ask you to come back for a follow-up checkup. Or, you follow up with a medical provider of your choice. A counselor will be available to talk with you. Additional ongoing counseling will be available to you through the support resources of your choice.

Who might I tell and why?

It is up to you whether or not you share information about your experience. It is normal for people to have different needs about whether to disclose, when and who they talk to about an experience.  Some people want to talk about what happened right away, while others may go days, weeks, months, or even years and many never disclose to anyone, including their closest friends or loved ones.

Here are some examples of people you may choose to talk to in your support network:

  • Hotline services

  • Friends

  • Family members and chosen family

  • Police/Legal (see information about reporting, below)

  • Health care providers

  • School employees

    • Confidential resources

    • Non-confidential resources (see information about reporting, below)

      • Responsible Employees

      • Other (non-designated)

  • Community Members

    • Faith communities

    • Art communities

    • Sports communities

    • Shared interest/Shared identity/Affinity groups

    • Online Communities



People talk about their experiences of being harmed for a variety of reasons.  Sometimes people only want support and care for understanding and processing their experience. There are several confidential resources on and off campus to assist you in determining your options for reporting, as well as gaining emotional support.  

Sometimes people want an official response from an organization (e.g. reporting), such as a school or law enforcement agency and in order to learn about options and take steps to feel safe. People may also want to encourage behavior change, and/or try to get justice or accountability from someone who has harmed them.  Any of these reasons are valid, as well as ones that are not listed here, and can be accessed by reporting the incident.  You may choose to tell anyone you want, although some people may have the responsibility to report that information to others.  You might tell a staff member (e.g., RPLs, coaches, other staff on campus) or faculty member of the University. It is important to know that many staff and faculty will be required to report the incident to the Title IX Office. The Title IX office will make sure that you have a list of resources but you will not need to move forward with a formal report to the University unless you choose to do so.  This information is kept private, and will be only shared on a “need to know” basis. Something to keep in mind when you tell friends or family members is that someone who cares about you may have their own emotional process regarding the incident.

See below for a list of confidential and private reporting options.

Confidential Support

Often people who have been hurt do not want to report their experience or do not know what they want.  However, these folks may still want or need support and care. They may want to talk about options without taking actions, discuss what happened, get emotional, physical, mental, academic, housing help or support and more.

Sexual Assault Response Line 401.863-6000

Confidential crisis support and information is available for any Brown student dealing with sexual violence. The on-call counselor is also available to accompany a victim to seek medical or legal resources.

SHARE Advocates (Sexual Harassment & Assault Resources & Education), [email protected], 401.863-2794, 3rd floor of Health Services

The SHARE Advocates are available to help students affected by sexual violence. Confidential services include support for a survivor or the friends of a survivor, help filing a complaint (if that is the student’s choice), help navigating resources at Brown and in the community, and educational programs for the student community. When you get support, you do not have to pursue any specific course of action and no action will be taken unless it’s something you choose.

Counseling and Psychological Services 401.863-3476

Clinicians provide confidential crisis support, follow-up appointments, and 24-hour on-call services for any Brown student dealing with sexual violence.  Located at Page-Robinson Hall, Room 516.

Brown Emergency Medical Services (EMS) 401.863-4111

Emergency response available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

University Health Services 401.863-3953

Confidential medical care, testing and treatment. Prophylaxis for pregnancy and HIV-transmission and treatment for sexually transmitted infections are available. Located at 13 Brown Street on the corner of Brown and Charlesfield Streets.

Chaplains Office 401.863-2344

The Chaplains are available for personal counseling and support. Call to make an appointment. Located in Page-Robinson Hall, Room 410.

Reporting (Private but not Confidential)

If you are interested in reporting, there are different options. You can choose any or all of these. The SHARE Advocates are a confidential resource who can assist with options counseling.

If you are looking for a University response, you might go directly to the Title IX office or tell a responsible employee.

You might tell Brown's Department of Public Safety or the Providence Police if you want to report a crime.

  • It could be helpful to write down, or have a friend write down, everything you can remember about the incident including a physical description of the perpetrator, their identity if you know it, and the use of threats, force or coercion, such as asking repeatedly, pressuring you, getting you to drink a lot or take drugs, etc.

  • If you want to report the crime, notify Brown's Department of Public Safety at 401.863-4111 or contact Providence Police. For some, reporting the crime can help regain a sense of personal power and control.

  • Reporting a crime is not the same as pressing criminal charges. If you decide to report, it does not mean you have to move forward with a criminal case.

What resources are available for emotional healing and social support?

Often, expanding one’s support network after an experience of harm can be beneficial.  There are a a number of spaces on and off campus where you can find services and access to community and social support.

SHARE Advocates (Sexual Harassment & Assault Resources & Education), 401.863-2794, BWell Health Promotion, 3rd floor of Health Services

The SHARE Advocates are available to help students affected by sexual violence. Confidential services include support for a survivor or the friends of a survivor, help filing a complaint (if that is the student’s choice), help navigating resources at Brown and in the community, and educational programs for the student community. When you get support, you do not have to pursue any specific course of action and no action will be taken unless it’s something you choose.

Counseling And Psychological Services

Clinicians provide confidential crisis support, follow-up appointments, and 24-hour on-call services for any Brown student dealing with sexual violence.  Located at Page-Robinson Hall, Room 516.

Day One: Rhode Island’s Sexual Assault and Trauma Center

Provides treatment, intervention, education, advocacy and prevention services to Rhode Islanders impacted by sexual trauma.  Along with offering support groups and legal advocacy Day One offers trauma-informed clinical mental health care, which you can read more about here.

Therapists in the Providence Community

For local resources on finding therapists in independent practice, Zen Care and Psychology Today are both resources that compile listings of therapists who have a variety of specialties and treatment methods. Both websites allow you to search according to specific key terms, read profiles, and schedule initial consults.

Brown Identity Centers

The Sarah Doyle Women’s Center, the Center for Brown Students of Color, and the LGBTQ Center may be places you receive resources and may be comfortable speaking to staff members about your experiences. Please keep in mind the responsible employee policy when choosing to disclose details of an adverse experience with staff members within these centers. Any staff member who is considered a responsible employee should alert you to their reporting responsibilities before you disclose personally identifiable information.


If you live on campus, your Residential Peer Leader (RPL’s- including Women’s and Minority Peer Counselors and Community Assistants) will be able to connect you to resources around campus and provide support for concerns around your living situation. Keep in mind that RPLs and Community Directors in The Office of Residence Life are considered responsible employees and will need to report disclosures of interpersonal and sexual violence to the Title IX Office.

Academic Accomodations


You may find that as a result of an adverse experience, you may have more difficulty completing coursework than previous to the event. There are a number of resources available to help support you if this should be the case.

Office of Student Life/Dean-on-Call 401.863-3800

Provides a crisis response system which includes administrators-on-call.  Student Support Deans can also work with students who have experienced sexual violence obtain academic accommodations for coursework.

Title IX Office (401) 863-2386, Rene Davis, Title IX Program Officer

Can advocate for students experiencing academic hardship following an adverse experience, including assistance with housing and academic accommodations.


Whether through formal processes such as the justice system, or via informal community-based methods, people who have been harmed can find the types of accountability they are looking for.

Title IX Office

(401) 863-2386, Rene Davis, Title IX Program Officer

Information and support resources for the Brown University community around issues of sexual misconduct and Title IX.

Brown Department of Public Safety 401.863-4111 (emergency response)

Emergency response available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You may also direct any complaints to Public Safety's administrative number, 863-3322.

Community Accountability Processes and Transformative Justice

Some people who have experienced harm are interested in working outside of traditional bureaucratic systems to seek accountability within their communities. The organization Creative Interventions offers a comprehensive toolkit for community members interested in engaging in an accountability process.

To learn more about community accountability and transformative justice processes, click here.

Related Links

National Sexual Violence Resource Center

Provides leadership in preventing and responding to sexual violence through collaborating, sharing and creating resources, and promoting research.

Rape, Abuse, and Incest Network (RAINN)

This web site offers information and statistics on sexual assault and can locate a local rape crisis center in your area.

The Network/La Red

The Network/La Red is a Boston-based survivor-led, social justice organization that works to end partner abuse in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, SM, polyamorous, and queer communities. Rooted in anti-oppression principles, our work aims to create a world where all people are free from oppression.  The website offers a number of inclusive resources on understanding abuse and its connection to systemic oppression.

  • 401.863-2794
    Health Promotion
  • 401.863-3953
    Health Services
  • 401.863-6000
    Sexual Assault Response Line
  • 401.863-4111
  • 401.863-3476
    Counseling & Psychological Services
  • 401.863-4111