Published as a service to the Cornell College community by the
Cornell Counseling Center, Ebersole Building, 319-895-4292, last update 9/2017

The information contained in this website is accurate as of the publication date. This information is intended for use as an overview of issues related to sexual assault.

Important Contact Numbers:

Campus Safety -- 319-895-4299 (a 24-hour security contact number)
Cornell Counseling Center -- 319-895-4292
Mt. Vernon Police -- 319-895-6141 (non-emergency) or 911 (emergency)  (9-911 from a campus phone)
Dean of Students, Gwen Schimek -- 319-895-4234
Title IX Coordinator, John Harp -- 319-895-4234

Mercy Medical Center ER -- 319-398-6041
Unity Point Health St. Luke's ER -- 319-369-7105
Riverview Center (sexual assault services) -- 888-557-0310 (24-hour sexual assault hotline) 
Waypoint Domestic Violence Services -- 319-363-2093 or 800-208-0388 (24-hour crisis line)
Foundation 2 Crisis Line -- 319-362-2174 or 800-332-4224 (24-hour crisis line for any concern)
Rape Victim Advocacy Program (RVAP; in Iowa City) -- 319-335-6000 or 800-284-7821

What is sexual assault?

Sexual assault is defined by the Cornell College Sexual Misconduct Policy as any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the Complainant.

Sexual Abuse (a.k.a. Sexual Assault) is defined by the Iowa Code (Chapter 709) as: 
Any sex act between persons is sexual abuse by either of the persons when the act is performed with the other person in any of the following circumstances:

1. The act is done by force or against the will of the other. If the consent or acquiescence of the other is procured by threats of violence toward any person or if the act is done while the other is under the influence of a drug inducing sleep or is otherwise in a state of unconsciousness, the act is done against the will of the other.
2. Such other person is suffering from a mental defect or incapacity which precludes giving consent, or lacks the mental capacity to know the right and wrong of conduct in sexual matters.
3. Such other person is a child.

What you can do to avoid committing sexual assault:

Think about whether you really want to have sex with someone who doesn't initially or immediately want to have sex with you; how will you feel afterwards if your partner tells you they didn't want to have sex.

If you are getting a mixed message from your partner, speak up and clarify what they want. If you find yourself in a situation with a partner who is unsure about having sex or is saying "no," back off. Suggest talking about it.

Be sensitive to partners who are unsure whether they want to have sex. If you put pressure on them, you might be forcing them.

Do not assume you both want the same degree of intimacy. Your partner might be interested in some sexual contact other than intercourse. There may be several kinds of sexual activity you might mutually agree to share.

Stay in touch with your sexual desires. Ask yourself if you are really hearing what your partner wants. Do not let your desires control your actions.

Communicate your sexual desires honestly and as early as possible.

Do not assume your partner's desire for affection is the same as a desire for sex.

A partner who turns you down for sex is not necessarily rejecting you as a person; they are expressing their decision not to participate in a single act at that time.

Remember, no one asks to be raped. No matter how a person behaves, they do not deserve to have their body used in ways they do not want.

Understand that the fact that you were intoxicated is not legal defense to rape. You are responsible for your actions, whether you are drunk or sober.

Be aware that a man's size and physical presence can be intimidating. Many victims report that the fear they felt based on a male assailant's size and presence was the reason why they did not fight back or struggle.

Medical and mental health care
needs after a sexual assault:

Within 24 to 48 hours the most evidence can be collected at a hospital emergency room; however, some evidence can be collected for up to 72 hours. There is no cost to the survivor for this type of exam. Do not bathe or shower, change clothes, douche, brush teeth, urinate, defecate, etc., before the exam. Bring a set of clothes to change into after the exam; the hospital might want to keep some or all of the clothes worn during the assault for evidence. Even if you're not sure you want to prosecute, you might want to consider an evidence exam to collect and store physical evidence in case you do decide to prosecute at a later time. Both Mercy and Unity Point St. Luke's in Cedar Rapids, and the UI Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City, have specially trained sexual assault response nurses on staff. IMPORTANT TO NOTE: Some hospitals may notify the police when a sexual assault victim seeks emergency room services. However, just because the police are called does not mean that the survivor must report the assault. The police will come to the hospital to take a report and the survivor can decline to give a statement at that time. The survivor will still be able to receive emergency medical care and has the option to to make a report at a later time.

Within 72 hours the survivor can be treated prophylactically for certain STDs and within 120 hours for pregnancy (if that is a concern). There might or might not be a charge for this service. Most physician offices can provide this treatment. Planned Parenthood and The Emma Goldman Clinic can also provide this treatment. Both Unity Point St. Luke's Hospital and Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids will provide emergency contraception. IMPORTANT TO NOTE: Some religiously affiliated medical care facilities will not provide pregnancy prophylaxis, even though those hospitals will provide prophylaxis for STDs.

After 72 hours, still encourage the survivor to seek medical attention. It is important to make sure no internal damage was done. Also important is follow-up testing for STDs such as HIV.

A survivor can consider seeking counseling to help cope with the trauma of the assault and feelings related to it.  Counseling on and off campus is available, as are 24-hour hotlines.

On-campus free, individual counseling is available, whether the assault occurred recently or years ago. You might offer to help the survivor by accompanying them to the Counseling Center to schedule the first visit. For more information call ext. 4292 (319-895-4292).

Riverview Center in Cedar Rapids provides free advocacy and support to survivors of sexual assault.

Legal and adjudicatory concerns
following a sexual assault:

Once a survivor is safe physically and medically, they may want to consider options for reporting the assault. Sexual assault is a crime and there are options on campus and through the Iowa legal system.

In the State of Iowa, a survivor has 10 years from the date of the sexual assault (or 10 years after their 18th birthday if they are a minor when assaulted) to report the assault to the police and pursue prosecution. The reality is that a report should be made as soon as possible after the assault. A survivor can make a report and choose not to prosecute, but still have the report on file. The longer someone waits to make a report of a rape, the less likely there will be a successful prosecution.

Currently, on-campus options for reporting include:
1)  Submitting a Sexual Misconduct Report Form;
2) Informing an RA, Student Affairs professional staff member, coach, or faculty member, who will submit a report on your behalf;
3) Filing a formal complaint with the Dean of Students. This may or may not lead to the conduct process.

For more information, see the complete Sexual Misconduct Policy.  Prompt reporting is crucial to help ensure full investigation of complaints and is thus encouraged. 

If a survivor is uncertain about reporting or would like to discuss options, they can consult with the 
Dean of Students:  Gwen Schimek, 895-4234, Old Sem,

Civil court proceedings are another option available to a survivor. This course does not result in criminal action against the accused. Rather, monetary damages can be sought through this avenue. A survivor should check with a qualified attorney to pursue this option.

If medical or other monetary losses result from the assault, the survivor might be able to recoup some losses through the Crime Victim Compensation Program (1-800-373-5044).

What to do to help the survivor:

Let the person be in control of their own decisions. Support these decisions.

Tell them over and over again that the assault was not their fault.

Tell them that no matter what they did when the assault happened, they acted in the best manner they could.

Ask the survivor how they want to be treated, especially when doing anything that may violate their personal space.

Be a good listener. Be non-judgmental and non-blaming.

Assist them in getting the help they want and need.

Realize you, too, have been affected and seek support/counseling if necessary.


Don't force the survivor to talk about the assault.

Don't give advice or try to tell them what to do.

Don't tell them what you would have done.

Don't ask why they didn't scream, fight, etc. This is blaming.

Don't ask them what they did to "lead him/her on."

Don't spread gossip to friends about "what happened."

Don't expect them to "get back to normal" right away.

Don't threaten to, or attempt to, seek revenge.

Additional information

  • Statistics (from RAINN - Rape Abuse & Incest National Network)
  • ICASA (Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault)