The Department of Special Services offers emotional support, guidance and options counseling to any Penn Affiliate who experiences a sensitive crime, such as, rape, sexual assault, relationship or domestic violence, harassment and stalking. Our highly experienced personnel, familiar with every element of University systems and the Philadelphia criminal justice system, will guide you, step-by-step, through the process of exploring ALL of your available options, should you experience sexual or interpersonal violence.
Criminal prosecution is never mandatory for the victim/survivor and it remains an option for the duration of the statue of limitations (varies by state). Options for victim/survivors of sexual violence are numerous and may be exercised in combination with each other, or separately to match the needs and emotional welfare of the victim/survivor.
Options include, but are not limited to:
- Medical treatment and forensic examination (i.e. Sexual Assault Nurse Examination “SANE Exam”) at the Philadelphia Sexual Assault Response Center (PSARC). Victim/survivors may choose to have a forensic exam (sometimes also called a “rape kit”), to receive important immediate medical care and preserve possible DNA evidence. At PSARC all victim/survivors will be given the option to be interviewed by a detective of the Philadelphia Police Department’s Special Victims Unit. Should a victim/survivor choose to speak with a Detective, criminal prosecution is not mandatory.
- Should a Victim/survivors choose not to receive a forensic exam, individuals can receive a medical and health examination at Student Health Services and/or the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. These medical and health exams cannot collect potential evidence. Providers will speak to Individuals seeking medical support about the options to more formally report their experience, however, no criminal report of sexual assault will be taken by medical providers, and the victim/survivors identity will remain only within the University of Pennsylvania Health System.
- Individuals who experience sexual violence committed by a Penn affiliate may opt to proceed with disciplinary action against the perpetrator(s) in consultation with the Associate Vice President for Equity and Title IX Officer.
- Regardless of whether a victim/survivor chooses to access medical care and/or criminal and/or disciplinary reporting; other supportive options involving academic, community, social, emotional, and psychological support are available. Special Services partners with Student Health and Counseling in Wellness as well as Student Intervention Services (SIS) in University Life to meet the interim support and safety needs of those impacted by interpersonal violence.
- The City of Philadelphia also offers myriad services and organizations, such as Women Organized Against Rape, Women Against Abuse and the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office Victim/Witness Services Unit.
The Department of Special Services will outline all of these options in detail, and provide support, guidance and accompaniment through any and all processes selected by the victim/survivor.
Our goal is to empower each victim/survivor to make the best and most informed decision for their own sense of well-being and comfort. No course of action will ever be mandated by the Division of Public Safety, or by the University of Pennsylvania.