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Reporting FAQs

We’ve seen many disclosures of sexual assault, domestic/dating violence, and stalking across social media, and we can imagine a lot of people are thinking about their own experiences and may be considering a reporting process. As part of our advocacy services, we often review reporting options with students. In addition, AVI has now created this FAQ section on reporting and service options for TCNJ students. We have assembled a list of questions and answers, below. If you have any additional questions for AVI, please email us at oavi@tcnj.edu

 

What does it mean to “report”?

Reporting means informing The Office of Title IX & Sexual Misconduct or a law enforcement body about what someone did to you. Reporting can have several goals; most commonly it is done through the Office of Title IX & Sexual Misconduct for the purposes of receiving Supportive Measures without the goal of a disciplinary process (check out the link for more information on what Supportive Measures look like). Other times, people may report with the desire to hold the person who has caused them harm accountable, whether that be through a formal adjudication or restorative process through the College, and/or a criminal process. Some may choose to report to Campus Police to have what was done on file and not necessarily move forward with pressing charges.

Note: If a report is made to police in a domestic violence incident and there is physical harm or injuries, the officers are bound by state law to intervene.

Not every survivor wants to report or feels comfortable doing so and it is not the only option available. For some, they may not wish to report now but would consider doing so later. Some may wish to begin a report and not follow through with an investigation. Any and all of these options are valid. An AVI clinician can help with this decision making process and explaining more about the various options should you choose.

 

Where do I report if the person who hurt me is a student?

The Office of Title IX & Sexual Misconduct and TCNJ Campus Police both have the authority to investigate and pursue reports of a TCNJ student causing harm. The main differences are your preferences and what type of action you would like to pursue. You can pursue the campus disciplinary or restorative processes; a criminal investigation; seeking supportive measures; or making a report to have on file.

File a report with the Office Title IX & Sexual Misconduct (also contains their phone number and email): https://tcnj-advocate.symplicity.com/titleix_report/index.php/pid888811

Contact Campus Police: In case of fire, police, or medical emergency, call 911 from any campus phone. From a cell phone: 609-771-2345 (also the non-emergency line)

If the person is a student but this happened at home?

In this case, you can report to your local police department and/or Title IX. Know that for immediate services in your hometown, the police are better suited to respond as Title IX’s jurisdiction extends only to our geographical campus. However, reporting to the Office of Title IX and Sexual Misconduct can still be useful for pursuing accommodations following an act of power-based personal violence.

 

Where do I report if the person who hurt me isn’t a student?

If the person who harmed you is not a student, the police department, local to where the harm happened, is the best place to report. Our campus resources have jurisdiction only over our students/our campus. However, reporting to the Office of Title IX & Sexual Misconduct can still be useful for receiving Supportive Measures following an act of power-based personal violence.

 

Is there a time limit/statute of limitations on reporting?

There is no legal statute of limitations for sexual assault nor does campus policy mandate one. If the person who harmed you was a student at the time but has since graduated, the adjudication options via campus resources are more limited.

Another important thing to consider in terms of timing is forensic evidence collection. Commonly called a “rape kit,” the forensice exam is performed by a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE). This exam can be conducted within 5 days of a physcial sexual assault and the kit is stored for 7 years following the collection. The exam can be initiated by reporting to campus or local police, the Office of Title IX & Sexual Misconduct, or emergency room. An advocate from AVI (during our regular business hours) or Womanspace (24/7) can accompany you for the exam should you choose.

In a criminal context, for stalking and domestic/dating violence, the statute of limitations varies between one and five years, depending on how the crime is charged under state law. A “what-if” conversation with police or legal counsel can be useful to help determine this. 

Campus disciplinary proceedings do not mandate time limitations but TCNJ’s ability to sanction offenders is limited after a person graduates.

 

In what ways can Campus Police assist in responding to incidents of power-based personal violence?

Campus Police are sworn police officers and can conduct a criminal investigation and activate the Sexual Assault Response Team (SART), which includes police, an advocate from Womansapce, and the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) should you chooose. They can also provide transport to local hospitals should you choose to pursue a forensic exam. Campus Police officers will also assist students in procuring restraining orders or communicating with perpetrators to set clear boundaries. They can also help provide for your immediate safety needs and provide escorts around campus.

 

When is Campus Police required to act?

In some instances, Campus Police (and/or the Office of Title IX & Sexual Misconduct) are required by law to report and/or investigate an incident. If either office is made aware of an instance in which they must act, they will reach out to you, but you are not required to participate. These instances are: when a weapon is involved, when the person who committed the harm is a known/repeat offender, when there is active or on-going abuse involving a minor, or when there is obvious physical harm to the survivor (bruises, cuts, etc). In these instances, the person who caused the harm may be considered an ongoing threat to our community and the College may need to investigate the matter.

If you are considering reporting but are unsure if either office would be required to act, you can contact them and ask a hypothetical question, describing the situation with something like “If this happened, what would you need to do?”

 

I don’t want this person to get in trouble.  What are my options?

The Office of Title IX & Sexual Misconduct offers an “informal resolution” in instances of power-based personal violence. Grounded in restorative justice, this option, referred to as the Alternative Resolution Process, allows a person to make a report and outline what might they might need to begin to heal and move forward. This contract is presented to the person that caused harm and, if they agree to participate, associated deadlines are set for all educational/restorative initiatives outlined on the contract. Note: When presented with the contract, if the other person can say “No,” formal resolution options are still available.

This contract is flexible and can be creative; the Office of Title IX & Sexual Misconduct helps each reporter tailor the contract to their needs. No formal disciplinary record is generated (unless the Respondent does not complete all items listed on the contract as agreed upon, then they may be charged with Failure to Comply under College Policy and receive punitive sanctions. but, ideally, the person who caused the harm learns of the impact they caused by their behavior, why what they did is wrong/caused harm and the harmed person moves towards healing and/or closure. 

 

How does AVI factor into all of this?

AVI is here to help you understand these options and make the choice that best suits you. Everyone’s experience with power-based personal violence is different,  and students access AVI’s services for different types of violence (sexual assault, domestic/dating violence, stalking, sexual harassment, etc.). AVI helps create individualized treatment and advocacy responses for clients based on the type of violence that happened to them and the client’s specific preferences around reporting and healing.  We are here as advocates throughout any process and clinicians should you choose to pursue therapy in addition to reporting or on its own. 

One of our clinicians also participates in the Alternative Resolution Process offered thorough the Office of Title IX & Sexual Misconduct and conducts psychoeducation workshops with harming parties (in these instances, that clinician will not be the reporter’s therapist to avoid conflicts of interest). 

AVI is a confidential resource and thereby cannot enact disciplinary procedures. We can help you advocate for accommodations but do not have the authority to mandate them; nor can we make a report on a client’s behalf due to laws surrounding our confidentiality. 

We are here to support but are not legal experts; when a person expresses the need, we work with our clients to connect with those who can provide legal expertise.

Similarly, if legal or disciplinary action were initiated against a survivor, confidentiality laws protect health and therapy records. AVI clinicians can only be required to testify or release records by court order.

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Anti-Violence Initiatives has moved to a teletherapy format for the duration of the physical distancing period. Services are available by appointment and can be scheduled via the OWL portal.
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