Rape and Sexual Assault

What to do if you or a friend has been sexually assaulted or raped.

What is rape/sexual assault?

Sexual assault/rape is forced, manipulated or coerced sexual contact. When someone forces you to have sex that is rape— even if you know the person. The offender could be a friend, classmate, relative, co-worker, someone you just met at a party or bar that night. Sexual assault can happen between people who are the same or different sex/gender. Sexual assault is against the law and a violation of the University Code of Conduct.

Common Reactions to Sexual Violence.

Sexual assault of any kind can result in a host of reactions—some are immediate, some can be long term. The variety of reactions may depend on the survivor's previous life experience, the kind of force used, the relationship of the offender to the victim, etc. Most survivors experience levels of fear, anger, self-blame, depression and anxiety that can be exhibited both emotionally and physically. Difficulty sleeping and concentrating, social withdrawal, nightmares, flashbacks, emotional numbing are all common reactions to sexual assault.

Immediate Needs & Safety.

  • It’s not your fault!
  • Go to a safe place.
  • Contact a friend or family member you trust to be with you.
  • You may want to call the local sexual assault center, RACES, @ 217.384.4444 or the Emergency Dean @ 217.333.0050; they can answer questions and concerns.
  • You may want to get medical attention for possible injuries, STI’s, pregnancy and/or for evidence collection if you would like to pursue a criminal complaint.

Support Services and Advocacy.

Emotional well-being/counseling and support services:

  • Women’s Resources Center—provides crisis management, advocacy, and other support services. Contact the Center @ 217.333.3137 or womenscenter@illinois.edu.
  • Rape Advocacy Counseling & Education Services (RACES)—provides individual counseling and other support services. Contact their office @ 217.344.6298, or the 24-hour crisis line @ 217.384.4444.
  • University of Illinois Counseling Center—provides individual and group therapy to aid in recovering from sexual trauma. Initial appointments are made on a same-day basis by calling the Counseling Center at 217.333.3704 any time after 7:50 a.m. Appointments tend to fill up quickly. Students are encouraged to call early on the day that they would like to meet with a counselor.

Reporting what happened:

  • Police (University of Illinois)—immediate emergency reports can be made @ 911. For non-emergency situations call University of Illinois Police @ 217.333.1216. The University of Illinois Police work closely with other police agencies and student affairs units to ensure students receive comprehensive services when they make the decision to report an incident.
  • Office for Student Conflict Resolution—handles complaints against University of Illinois students related to sexual misconduct. They are located @ 300 Turner Student Services Building; 610 E. John Street, Champaign. You can contact them for an appointment to talk with a dean @ 217.333.3680 or email conflictresolution@illinois.edu. They are open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information visit their website @ www.conflictresolution.illinois.edu.
  • Civil No Contact Order—a court order that requires the offender to stay away from the victim. You can get it on your own by going to the Champaign Co. Court House and ask the Circuit Clerk for assistance with the forms. You can also call both the Women’s Resources Center (217.333.3137) and Rape Advocacy Counseling & Education Services (217.344.6298) to ask for assistance and to have someone go to court with you. For more information about the CNCO see brochure.

Making sure you are healthy:

  • McKinley Health Center—provides medical services for injuries, STI and pregnancy testing, emergency contraception, crisis intervention, emotional support, referrals for additional help and follow-up care. Call 217.333.2700 for an appointment or more information.
  • Carle Foundation Hospital—provides emergency care and evidence collection following sexual assault. Call 217.383.3311 for more information.
  • Presence Covenant Medical Center—provides emergency care and evidence collection following sexual assault. Call 217.337.2131 for more information.

Keeping up with classes:

  • Student Assistance Center—Walk-in assistance; counseling, advocacy and referral services; assistance with complaints, class absences, and withdrawals; report acts of intolerance. The Student Assistance Center offers 24-hour support to students. Professional staff, Intake Deans, are available to assist students Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m.- 5 p.m. to assist with a range of issues which may be impacting their academic success including those related to health/mental health, problems with attendance or absence letters, the need to drop or withdraw from courses, information about various campus resources, etc. Call 217.333.0050, email helpdean@illinois.edu, or come to the 3rd floor of Turner Student Services Building (610 E. John Street, CH).
  • After 5 p.m., there is an Emergency Dean, who is on call at home and who is available to assist students and families with more urgent situations and crises that require immediate attention and cannot wait until the next business day. The Emergency Dean also serves as a resource to students/families, faculty/staff, community and University law enforcement agencies, hospitals and crisis centers. For medical, mental health or life threatening emergencies, please call 911.


When someone you care about has been assaulted, you may feel upset and confused. At a time when you may want to help most; you might be dealing with a crisis of your own. Your support at a time like this can be extremely helpful to a victim of sexual assault. Here are some guidelines to help you through this time:

Believe. Believe her/his experience without question. Do not blame them. Whatever the circumstances s/he was not looking for or asking to be assaulted. It is very common for the victim of a sexual assault to blame themselves. The blame for rape rests squarely and only with the assailant. There is no way of knowing what would have happened if the victim had acted differently.

Respect. Respect her/his fear. Assailants commonly threaten to harm the victim if s/he does not comply. Often victims feared that they would not survive the assault. This fear does not go away when the rapist does. This fear is real. Help her/him deal with it by finding ways to increase their safety.

Accept. There may be strong feelings. S/he has the right to any emotion: to be numb, sad, angry, in denial, terrified, depressed, agitated, withdrawn, etc. Being supportive is an attitude of acceptance of all feelings, an atmosphere of warmth and safety. Tolerate their needs; be there for them.

Listen. Let them know you want to listen. It does not matter so much what you say, but more how you listen. Try to understand what s/he is going through. They did the very best they knew how in a threatening situation. S/he survived. Give her credit.

  • Let them talk; do not interrupt.
  • Find time to focus on the victim. Ask what s/he needs from you.
  • You may feel nervous about stalls and silences. It’s okay to be quiet.
  • Try repeating back the things they’ve said as a way to continue the talking.
  • Reassure her/him that s/he is not to blame. Blaming questions such as, "Why didn't you scream?" or "Why did you go there?" are not helpful. Instead, you might say, "It's difficult to scream when you are frightened" or "Going someplace unfamiliar is risky, but you were not asking to be assaulted."

Take it seriously. Pay attention. This will help validate the seriousness of their feelings and her/his need to work them through. Sexual assault can be a shattering experience which a victim does not get over in a hurry or alone. It may be months or longer before s/he feels fully recovered. Recovery is a process of acceptance and healing which takes time.

Stay. Stay with her/him as long as they want you to. One of the most upsetting losses experienced by rape victims is the loss of independence and solitude. For a while, many victims feel frightened and vulnerable about being alone. This will pass with time. Meanwhile, be good company.

Let the victim make their own decisions. Do not pressure her/him into making decisions or doing things s/he is not ready to do. Help them explore all the options. It is essential to respect privacy and confidentiality. Let them decide who knows about the sexual assault.

Care about her/his well-being. In order to care about your friend, you may need to cope with some difficult emotions of your own. If you are experiencing rage, blame or changes in how you feel about your friend/relative, you can be most helpful by finding ways of coping with your own emotions. Sexual assault is not provoked nor desired by the victim. In fact, sexual assault is motivated by the assailant's need for power and control, and a desire to humiliate and degrade the victim. Advocacy programs in your area have staff/volunteers that can help people sort through their feelings and emotions. To find a program near you click here.