Have you experienced prohibited conduct?
Talk to someone you trust.
As soon as you are in a safe place, tell someone you can trust about the incident—a roommate, friend, resident advisor or hall director, minister, or counselor—someone who can provide emotional support and objectively help you make a plan.
Preserve all physical evidence.
If you have experienced sexual assault, when possible avoid changing your clothing, bathing, showering, using a douche, using the bathroom, brushing your teeth, drinking liquids, washing your hands or face, or combing your hair. If you change clothes, evidence is best preserved in a paper (not plastic) bag. Preservation of evidence does not mean that you have to pursue criminal charges, but it preserves that option for you.
Seek medical care.
You may seek medical care at any time following an assault, but we strongly recommend that you do so within seventy-two hours (three days). A medical professional will examine you, provide appropriate medical treatment, and, if applicable, talk with you about the prevention of sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy.
You may seek medical care by contacting one of the following, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week:
Sexual Assault Center of East Tennessee
2455 Sutherland Avenue Building B6215
Knoxville, TN 37919
The mission of the Sexual Assault Center of East Tennessee is to provide excellent and compassionate services for victims and survivors of sexual assault and to empower our communities through education and social change. The Sexual Assault Center of East Tennessee has four program areas: Forensic Nursing, Advocacy, Therapy, and Prevention Education. All services provided by the SACETN are free, including no-cost medical examinations, pregnancy prevention, and testing and preventative treatment for sexually transmitted infections.
University of Tennessee Police Department (UTPD)
Contact the UTPD if you would like an officer to take you either to a local hospital or the Sexual Assault Center of East Tennessee for a medical examination.
Calling 911, contacting the Sexual Assault Center of East Tennessee, or contacting the UTPD does not mean that you must make a formal report to the university or to law enforcement. A medical examination simply preserves evidence in the event that you wish to pursue a criminal prosecution. If unwanted sexual activity occurred and if you think you might want to prosecute, you are strongly encouraged to have a medical examination for the collection and preservation of evidence within seventy-two hours.
Please note that the collection of evidence for use in a criminal prosecution relating to unwanted sexual activity can only be performed by trained personnel at a hospital emergency room or at the Sexual Assault Center of East Tennessee. Physical examinations by other health care providers are likely to impede potential future legal remedies.
If you wish to speak confidentially with someone, you can contact one of the following:
Student Counseling Center
Licensed psychologist available during weekday business hours
Student Health Services
Licensed psychiatrist available during weekday business hours
Sexual Assault Center of East Tennessee Crisis Hotline
Staff members available twenty-four hours a day
A licensed university counselor or Sexual Assault Center staff member can guide you in exploring options and provide you with information and emotional support. Whether you seek immediate assistance or choose to wait, counseling can help you deal with the psychological impact and begin the healing process.
Reporting prohibited conduct to law enforcement or the university is a deeply personal choice that only you can make.
The university strongly encourages you to report an incident of sexual misconduct. Reporting the incident is the only way that the University and/or law enforcement can take action. Reporting the incident and having a medical examination performed within seventy-two hours (in sexual assault cases) are critical in preserving evidence and allowing law enforcement and/or the university to respond effectively; nevertheless, you may report an incident at any time.
You may report an incident of prohibited conduct to any of the following:
Report to a University of Tennessee Administrative Unit
Title IX Coordinator, Office of Equity and Diversity
Sexual Assault Response Team (SART)/ Deputy Title IX Coordinator for Prevention and Support
Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards/Deputy Title IX Coordinator for Student Conduct
What to Expect If You Report an Incident to the University
If you report an incident of prohibited conduct to the university, the university’s Title IX Coordinator, a Deputy Title IX Coordinator, or a member of the Sexual Assault Response Team will work with you to evaluate your care and support needs and discuss your options under university policy. Reporting prohibited conduct to the university empowers you to obtain the care and support you need and enables the university to respond appropriately, including conducting a prompt, thorough, and equitable investigation and, if warranted, taking disciplinary action against a respondent.
The university recognizes that your decision on how to proceed after reporting an incident is a process that may unfold over time; thus, at the time a report is made to the university, you do not have to decide whether to request or choose any particular course of action. Regardless of which course of action you choose, the university will provide you with care and support even if the university ability to investigate the incident and pursue disciplinary or other remedial action is limited.
Report to Law Enforcement Authorities
University of Tennessee Police Department
865-974-3111 / 911
Knoxville Police Department
You may report an incident to law enforcement before, during, or after an investigation and/or a resolution of the incident by the University. You have the right to decline to report the incident to law enforcement. Even if you do not report the incident to law enforcement, you may still access medical care, counseling, and other support from the University of Tennessee by notifying the Title IX Coordinator, the Sexual Assault Response Team, or the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards.
What to Expect If You Report an Incident to Law Enforcement
We hope you will decide to report the incident to the police. While there is no way to change what has happened, you have the right to seek justice and maybe able to help stop prohibited conduct from happening to someone else—but the decision to report or not to report is yours to make. You are not legally obligated to report.
If you visit the emergency room and tell the nurse you have been sexually assaulted, the hospital will generally perform a sexual assault forensic examination. This involves collecting evidence of the attack—such as hairs, fluids, and fibers—and preserving the evidence for forensic analysis. If you think you might want to pursue prosecution but are still unsure, we recommend that you make the police report right away while the evidence is still present and your memory is detailed. If you choose not to make a police report at that time, the medical provider will provide the examination materials to local law enforcement with a unique identifying number that will also be provided to you. The law enforcement agency with jurisdiction will store the examination materials for up to 3 years. If in that time you decide to make a police report, you may report to the law enforcement agency with jurisdiction and refer to the unique identifying number so that your examination materials may be matched up with your police report for evidentiary purposes.
The district attorney will decide whether to pursue prosecution; however, it is unusual for cases to proceed without the cooperation of the victim. Reporting the incident to law enforcement does not obligate you to cooperate with the district attorney’s criminal prosecution. If prosecution is pursued, the chance of success will be much higher if you reported and allowed evidence to be collected immediately after the incident.
In most cases, the police will come to you and take a statement about what occurred. In addition to taking a statement, police will collect physical evidence. While some physical evidence will be collected by a nurse or doctor, the police may also ask to examine the scene of the sexual assault and collect bedding, clothing, or other items.
The police interview may take as long as several hours, depending on the circumstances of your case. Some questions will probably feel intrusive, and the officer will probably go over the details several times. The extensive questioning is not because the police do not believe you; it is the officer’s job to get every detail down precisely. Due to the traumatic effect of sexual assaults on survivors, multiple interviews may be required to get all of the pertinent details of the assault. This is not unusual, and investigators are trained to expect gaps in memory due to trauma immediately after the assault Investigators understand that as time passes, additional memories may become clearer. Throughout the process, law enforcement officials will keep you aware of the progress of your case.
If you report the incident to the UTPD, they will contact the Title IX coordinator, and an appropriate university official will get in touch with you. UTPD will also offer to call an on-call victim advocate to be present during your questioning if you choose to do so. UTPD will also provide you with a list of available resources.
Orders of protection
Contact the Knoxville Family Justice Center for assistance in pursuing legal remedies such as orders of protection:
Knoxville Family Justice Center
400 Harriet Tubman Street
Knoxville, TN 37915
24/7 helpline 865-521-6336
The center provides victims of domestic violence and sexual assault with a single location to access advocacy and other services necessary to build a future of choice, safety, and opportunity. It is a safe place with caring and trained staff available to help victims of domestic violence and sexual assault and their children.
After you report the incident to the university, the university can support you in a variety of ways:
- Informing you of your rights under the University’s Title IX grievance procedures
- Issuing a no-contact directive to the respondent, which prohibits the respondent from having verbal, physical, or written contact with you for a definite or indefinite period of time
- Providing medical and counseling services
- Assisting you in reporting an incident to law enforcement, if you want to report the incident
- Exploring changes in living and working arrangements
- Arranging appointments with follow-up on-campus support services or off-campus support services (for example, arranging an appointment with the Knoxville Family Justice Center to discuss options for pursuing an order of protection in Knox County Fourth Circuit Court)
- Exploring changes in class schedules, including adjustments so that you and the alleged perpetrator do not share the same classes
- Assisting you in communicating with faculty
- Providing academic support, including tutoring
- Exploring the options of retaking a course, dropping a course, or withdrawing for a semester without penalty
These support services are available to you even if you do not want to report the incident to UTPD or the Knoxville Police Department.
The Student Counseling Center and Student Health Center are designated confidential resources who can talk with you about supports and options.
Other university employees who are not confidential resources will protect the privacy of your report to the maximum extent possible under the circumstances and share the information you reported only within the limited circle of university employees who need to be involved in responding to the report.
If you report an incident of prohibited conduct to the university, you have the right to:
- Request that your name not be disclosed to the respondent;
- Request that the university not investigate the incident further or pursue disciplinary action against the respondent;
- Decline to participate in a university investigation or disciplinary proceeding; or
- Decline to disclose the identity of the respondent to the university.
The university (typically the Title IX Coordinator) will evaluate a request that your name not be disclosed to the respondent or a request that the university not investigate the incident further or pursue disciplinary action against the respondent. If the university honors such a request, then the university’s ability to respond fully to the incident (e.g., meaningfully investigate the incident and pursue disciplinary action against the respondent or take other remedial action) may be limited.
In accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, or FERPA, personally identifiable information concerning a student report to a university official who is not a law enforcement officer (for example, to the Title IX coordinator or a member of the Sexual Assault Response Team) will not be disclosed to third parties outside the university without the consent of the student except in response to a lawfully issued subpoena or as otherwise required or allowed by law.
If during a university investigation of misconduct, a Respondent makes a request to review documents concerning the investigation, FERPA requires that the university grant the student’s request to inspect and review records that relate specifically to him or her, but the university will redact the alleged victim’s name and any other identifying information to the maximum extent possible. In addition, after the university has formally charged a student or employee with violating university policy, the Respondent will have a due process right to be informed of the nature of the allegations against him or her, including the identity of the person who accused him or her of misconduct.
In contrast to a report to a University administrative official, incident reports prepared by UTPD for law enforcement purposes are generally considered public records under the Tennessee Public Records Act and are not protected by FERPA, which means they will be made available to any Tennessee citizen upon request unless the report is part of an ongoing criminal investigation. In addition, the UTPD is required by federal law to report the occurrence of certain crimes on campus, including sex offenses, in an annual report of crime statistics, but the report does not contain any personally identifiable information. The UTPD is also required by federal law to issue timely warnings for certain crimes that represent serious or continuing threats to the safety of students or employees, but such warnings do not contain any personally identifiable information.
The University of Tennessee and Title IX prohibit retaliation against anyone who reports sexual harassment, sexual assault, or sexual misconduct. The university will take reasonable steps to prevent retaliation, and will take strong responsive action if retaliation occurs.
If you were using alcohol and/or drugs at the time of the incident, the University does not want that to keep you from reporting. The University will not pursue disciplinary charges against you for personal consumption of alcohol or other drugs.
Download the You Are Not Alone Support Guide (pdf)
Download the full Policy on Sexual Misconduct, Relationship Violence, Stalking, and Retaliation (pdf)