Sexual Assault

The Counseling Center is a confidential place to discuss sexual assault or gender based violence. Unlike most other campus faculty and staff, counselors are not mandated to report sexual assaults to campus authorities. Counselors can provide support around your experience of assault and discuss resources and reporting options with you in confidence.

If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, there are campus and community resources.

Download this Sexual Assault and Gender Based Violence Resources Brochure for a brief summary of information about medical help, reporting options, confidential places on campus to seek support, and options for general support on campus (e.g. classes, housing, etc.).

Information is also available on the University’s Sexual Discrimination and Misconduct Policy page.

Important Numbers

  • Bellarmine Campus Security 502.272.7777
  • Bellarmine Counseling Center 502.272.8480
  • Louisville Metro Police Department 911
  • Center for Women and Families 877.803.7577
  • National Sexual Assault Hotline 800.656.HOPE


What is Sexual Assault?

Sexual assault is any unwanted sexual contact to which one party does not consent or is unable to consent. Rape is a specific type of sexual assault. Rape and other types of sexual assault are crimes, punishable by incarceration.

Facts about Sexual Assault

  • Approximately 1 in 6 females in the United States have been victims of rape or attempted rape in their lifetime.
  • 90 % of rape victims are female (which also means that 10% of victims are male)
  • Only about 40% of rape victims ever report the crime to law enforcement officials.
  • Approximately 3% of female college students in the United States are victims of either rape or attempted rape each year.
  • Among college students, 90% of rape survivors knew their assailant (often a classmate, ex-boyfriend or acquaintance).
  • Among college students, most rapes occur on campus in the victim's room.

What to Do If You Have Been Raped

Rape is a violent crime. While reactions to rape may vary, there are certain actions that survivors are encouraged to take.

  • Get to a Safe Place Immediately: After experiencing a traumatizing event such as rape, it is important to find a place where you feel comfortable and safe from harm. This location could be a friend's room, family home, RA’s room, Campus Security Office, Counseling Center, Health Services, or the Center for Women and Families.
  • If you want to report the assault, contact Campus Security or Local Police As Soon As Possible: For your safety and the potential safety of the community, it is important to report your assault to Campus Security. You may also wish to file a report with the local police, which will be important if you decide to seek criminal prosecution. You may chose to drop charges at any time; however, once reported police may decide to continue an investigation without your cooperation. A delayed report could result in the loss of physical evidence which could be vital in court proceedings. If the assault occurred on campus, you should report to Campus Security. If the assault occurred off campus, you should contact the local police.
  • Get Support: You may want to reach out to a trusted friend or family member. You may also contact a Student Affairs staff member (e.g. RA, campus minister, Counseling Center staff, Health Services staff), who can assist in connecting you with other support you may need.
  • Preserve All Physical Evidence: If possible do not bathe, shower, douche, eat, drink, smoke, urinate, brush your teeth, or change your clothes. Do not disturb anything in the area where the assault occurred; otherwise, you might destroy evidence. If you have changed your clothes, take the clothes you were wearing at the time of the rape to the hospital in a paper bag (plastic may destroy important evidence).
  • Seek Medical Attention: If you have been raped, it is important that you seek medical attention as soon as possible. You can receive medical attention through an emergency room or through the Center for Women and Families. There you can be treated for possible injuries, pregnancy or sexually transmitted disease. You may also undergo a Physical Evidence Recovery Kit (PERK), which is very helpful if you decide to pursue an investigation.
  • Write Down As Much As You Can Remember About the Assailant and the Assault: If you decide to report or press charges, you will have the details to give the police or university officials. It is important to do this as soon as possible because your memory of details and events may start to fade.
  • Seek Follow-Up Counseling: Whether or not you report the assault or prosecute, a trained counselor can help you process the emotional trauma of an assault. The Counseling Center can provide both counseling and advocacy throughout the process. Services are also available off campus through the Center for Women and Families and Seven Counties Services.
  • Sexual Discrimination and Misconduct Policy: If your assailant was a fellow Bellarmine student, you may file judicial charges against the accused individual under university judicial procedures. Information about this process is available in your student handbook (pages 63-76).
  • Civil Action: You may also pursue civil action against your assailant in a public court of law. For more information about your options in civil or criminal court, you should contact the local district attorney's office or private counsel.

Reducing the Risk of Sexual Assault

Sexual Assault is a crime. As with most crimes, there is no way to absolutely prevent being a victim. A victim is never to blame for the sexual assault . All a person can do is reduce the risk of being victimized. A few things that can help reduce the risk of sexual assault include:

  • Think about and know you own comfort level and boundaries with sexual activity. Remember that you the right to say “no” to any activity at any time and you have the right to change your mind at any time.
  • Communicate your sexual desires and limits clearly. Don't worry about hurting the other person's feelings. You have every right to set limits.
  • Avoid excessive amounts of alcohol and drugs. Alcohol is the primary “date rape” drug. In cases of sexual assault, the majority of the time the victim and/or the assailant were intoxicated. Excessive amounts impair judgment and make you more vulnerable to assault.
  • Don't leave your beverage unattended or accept a drink from an open container. “Date Rape” drugs which are colorless and odorless can be added to a drink. Also, people can intentionally add excessive amounts of alcohol to your drink to make you more intoxicated than you intended.
  • When you go to a party, go with a group of friends. Arrive together, watch out for each other, and leave together.
  • Be aware of your surroundings at all times.
  • Trust your gut. If a situation or person feels unsafe or you are feeling coerced or manipulated, act to protect your self.
  • Avoid being isolated with someone you don't know or trust. Avoid being escorted home by someone you don't know well.

What Men Can to Do to Prevent Rape

Rape and sexual assault are issues for women and men. Rape can happen to the women you care about, like your mother, sister, friend or partner. Men can also be victims of rape. Additionally, being convicted of rape can ruin your life and the lives of other people. Consequences for conviction can include being expelled from college, going to prison and being labeled a sex offender. The following are a few ideas on how to avoid being an assailant and reducing the risk for sexual assault:

  • Limit your use of alcohol. Never a valid excuse for sexual assault!
  • Consider your partner's use of alcohol (or other drugs). Alcohol and other drugs interfere with one's judgment and ability to communicate clearly. Has s/he had too much to consent to sexual activity? If you're not sure, stop and wait until you're both sober. Remember that someone who is drunk, high, asleep or not fully alert for any reason probably lacks the capacity to consent, even if he or she says “yes” If you're not sure about your partner's sobriety or alertness, the best thing to do is STOP!
  • Don't assume you know what your partner wants. Ask and communicate clearly about your sexual desires and limits. If you feel you are getting unclear messages, stop and talk about it. Also, recognize that just because your partner consented to sexual activity in the past does not mean that they are consenting now. Always check this out.
  • Trust that “no” really means “no.” If your partner says “no” respect her/his right to control her/his body.
  • Don't assume that you are entitled to sexual activity because you spend money or provide other favors for your partner.
  • Avoid using language or behavior that degrades or objectifies women (e.g. calling a woman “slut” or “bitch,” telling demeaning jokes). This type of behavior can foster an environment that contributes to sexual assault.
  • Challenge friends who degrade, objectify or harass women. If you see such behavior but do nothing, other people will assume you condone it. Silence is the voice of complicity.
  • Work to eradicate sexual assault and sexism in our culture. Attend Take Back The Night or similar programs. Educate yourself more about cultural issues that impact sexual assault.
  • Remember that men also can be victimized sexually. If this should happen to you, the same laws apply and the same help resources are available to you that are available for women who have been victimized.

Date Rape Drugs

Unfortunately alcohol and drugs are being used by perpetrators to facilitate rape and sexual assault. Because the drugs are odorless and tasteless, the intended victim is not aware that she is drinking a spiked drink.

The two most common drugs used are Rohypnol (roofies, roaches, larocha) and Gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB or G). Both have similar effects. Both cause sleep and amnesia-like symptoms. People who have been slipped these drugs complain of having a hangover like they never had before because the hangover is longer and more intense (excessive nausea or bad headache or dizziness). People who have unknowingly consumed these drugs typically do not remember what happened to them or only remember bits and pieces.

If you suspect that someone has spiked your drink, you can go to the nearest medical facility and ask to have both blood work and a urine analysis performed. Because the drugs have a short half-life, the sooner you undergo the tests the better chance you will have of discovering the presence of a drug in your system.

If Someone You Care About Has Been Raped

  • It is important to understand and remember that: The survivor is experiencing some degree of outrage, helplessness, guilt, embarrassment, isolation, and alienation. The survivor may feel afraid of being alone, of strangers and of others' reactions. The survivor may have difficulty relating to others, trusting, expressing affection, making decisions or keeping up with classes or work.
  • Believe the survivor
  • Listen to him/her without interrupting
  • Support him/her. Validate the feelings the survivor is experiencing
  • Assist the survivor in getting whatever he/she wants or needs
  • Encourage the survivor to get help from a trained trauma response counselor
  • Do not tell him/her to forget
  • Be willing to confront your own past and deal with your own emotions
  • Do not burden the survivor with your own issues