Frequently Asked Questions
It is normal to have questions, concerns, and fears about how to handle a sexual assault.
Here we provide answers to some of the most common questions we encounter. Still have questions? Remember that you can schedule a confidential appointment with a Counseling Center clinician for more support.
Who will I talk to if I come to the Counseling Center?
Most students come to the Counseling Center by first scheduling an intake appointment, which can be with any of our counselors. For students whose first contact is through an Emergency Walk-In appointment, they will meet with a senior staff clinician or doctoral intern clinician. If you decide to pursue ongoing therapy at the Counseling Center, you will be matched with a therapist who has relevant experience and is qualified to help you. Regardless of who you meet with, this meeting will be collaborative and confidential.
Do survivors have to discuss the details of their trauma or give the name of the perpetrator?
No. We believe that survivors should be in control over how much they share and with whom they share. While we recognize that telling this story can be immensely healing and important for recovery, this is only done with the survivor's consent and at their own pace. Any information that is shared is kept confidential.
I've heard that some CUA employees are required to report sexual assaults to the Title IX Coordinator. Will my therapist at the Counseling Center do this?
No. While many CUA employees are required to report, Counseling Center clinicians are not responsible for reporting this information. With few exceptions (i.e. if a client expresses imminent harm to self or others, if there is reasonable suspicion of current child or elder abuse, or in the event of a court order), we are bound by law and our professional codes of ethics to keep client information confidential.
Will my parents be told about the assault?
As a confidential resource, the Counseling Center cannot disclose any information about a student, even if a parent calls to ask for information. If a Counseling Center client provides written consent authorizing a clinician to release such information to a parent, then we will be able to do so.
If I go to the Counseling Center, will my therapist tell my story to the Dean of Students, Public Safety, or the DC Police?
No. Without written consent from a client that authorizes a therapist to disclose information to a specific person or agency, Counseling Center clinicians cannot share any client information. However, sometimes a survivor who has already told Dean of Students, Public Safety, or DC Police would like the Counseling Center to coordinate information or care with those other agencies. In that case, with written consent, we can share information that the client has authorized. It is our general policy to release only pertinent information and to maintain the client's privacy as much as possible. Without a release, we can receive information from those other agencies, but we cannot confirm whether the student being discussed has ever been seen at the Counseling Center.
What will happen if I go to the hospital after being sexually assaulted?
We recommend going to MedStar Washington Hospital Center and seeing a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) in the Emergency Department. Typically, survivors elect to have a physical examination so that the SANE can assess for physical injuries. Bloodwork can also be taken to test for sexually transmitted infections. While many survivors may not be able to decide in the moment whether to pursue charges, it is recommended for the SANE to collect evidence for a forensic examination. By opting for the forensic examination, you are under no obligation to contact the police or press charges-- you simply have the forensic evidence ready if you decide to do so later.
If I was drinking or using drugs when I was assaulted, will I get in trouble with the university?
No. The university's Sexual Misconduct Policy states that students will not be charged with lesser offenses.
If I'm an international student or at CUA on an exchange program from another university, can I still get help?
Yes! Any student that is enrolled at CUA can access Counseling Center services. If your situation requires additional consultation or coordination, we will work with you to get the support you need.
I'm afraid that I might be pregnant after being sexually assaulted. What resources are available to me?
MedStar Washington Hospital Center can provide a pregnancy test as part of your medical exam with a SANE in order to confirm or disconfirm a pregnancy. At the Counseling Center, we will offer nonjudgmental support as you process this news and will help you consider how you personally want to move forward. For many students, spiritual counseling through Campus Ministry can be a valuable form of support, and Campus Ministry provides a guide to pregnancy resources that may be helpful for survivors.
Since the assault, I have felt unsafe in my residence hall or in some of my classes. What can I do?
If a student could benefit from accommodations that increase their safety and well-being, we recommend going to the Dean of Students. This office can help students with changing residence halls, altering class schedules, or obtaining no-contact orders.
I wasn't physically assaulted, but my former partner/current partner has been showing up in unwanted places, sending me unwanted text messages, or intimidating me. Can the university help me with this?
Yes. Stalking behavior and intimate partner violence qualify as sexual violence, and you are entitled to support. Many of the suggestions provided above are relevant for this kind of situation.
I'm the friend/partner/roommate of a survivor. Can I also get support?
Yes. We understand that supporting a survivor can be difficult, and many people feel like they need their own support to do so. Currently enrolled CUA students are welcome to access our services. We can also provide referrals to additional resources in the community and on-campus.