Sexual Violence Prevention, Response & Survivor Resources

On this page:

Sexual assault
Reporting sexual violence
Relationship violence

Sexual violence is always a crime. 

California law and the UC Policy on Sexual Harassment and Sexual Violence ban all forms of sexual harassment and sexual violence. Whatever the situation, these acts are crimes: 

  • Sexual assault/rape 
  • Dating violence 
  • Domestic violence 
  • Relationship violence 
  • Stalking 

The sections below provide information about sexual violence and related resources for all members of the campus community.

For additional information:

UCSF Rights, Options & Resources for Survivors of Sexual Assault, Dating Violence, Domestic Violence and Stalking (PDF)

Sexual Violence Prevention & Response (OPHD) at UCSF

Sexual assault

What is sexual assault? 

Sexual assault is any sexual act that takes place without the victim’s consent, such as: 

  • Using threats, bullying, fraud or physical force to gain “consent” 
  • Sexually assaulting a person who’s unconscious, asleep or “out of it” due to drugs or alcohol 

Even with consent, having sex with a minor (in California, a person under age 18, the legal age of consent) is also sexual assault. 

Sexual assault includes: 

  • Unwanted (non-consensual) oral, anal or vaginal sexual intercourse 
  • Penetration with a foreign object (e.g., fingers, sex toys)  
  • Sexual battery, including unwanted touching of the breasts, buttocks or genitalia 

What is consent? 

California law defines consent as “positive cooperation.” It must be given freely and voluntarily, and everyone involved must have knowledge and understanding of the act.  

Consent can also be taken back (revoked), even in the middle of a sex act. The moment one of the persons involved says or indicates to stop, the other person must stop. By law, any sex act after consent has been revoked is considered assault. 

Why is giving consent, or not, so important?  

First, because everyone deserves protection from sexual assault that is not only unwanted, but also illegal. 
Another reason is because a sexual attacker may be a stranger but can also be a date, partner, spouse, family member, neighbor, or friend. Some, such as a spouse, may feel “entitled” to sex with the victim. Nevertheless, whoever the attacker is, the victim’s non-consent defines the assault as a crime. Read more about UCSF policies concerning sexual violence

If you become a victim… 

The first thing you should know is that sexual assault is never the victim’s fault. As soon as you can, take action:  

  • Get to a safe place. 
  • Get help. 

“What if I was intoxicated when it happened?”  

If you are a student, do not hold back from reporting a sexual assault because you were intoxicated at the time.   

  • Students who disclose they were under the influence of alcohol or other drugs when they report a sexual assault will not be disciplined. 

If you are injured… 

If you need medical attention, call 911 or go to a hospital or to Student Health and Counseling.  

  • There, you can be tested for sexually transmitted infections and receive emergency contraception if you request it.  

Having an examination for evidence 

If the assault happened within the previous 72 hours, you may choose to have an evidentiary examination to collect evidence. These examinations are provided at San Francisco Trauma Recovery Center.  

  • Note: UCSF Student Health and Counseling does not conduct evidentiary exams.  

Law enforcement typically approves the examination for evidentiary purposes. However, if you are not sure you want to report the assault to the police now, it’s still very important to collect any evidence as soon as possible.

For more information about the evidentiary examination purpose and process, contact the San Francisco Women Against Rape Crisis Center and Counseling at (415) 647-7273.

Reporting sexual violence 

To report to the police, the first step is to determine which police department to contact. This decision is based on the location where the sexual assault, violence or stalking occurred.  

  • For example, if the incident occurred on UCSF property, the report would be made to the UCSF Police Department. 

Generally, a report to the police will involve speaking with a first-response patrol officer. They will: 

  • Make sure you’re safe 
  • Gather basic information about the incident 
  • Evaluate the need for a medical exam to collect evidence  

If an examination to gather evidence (evidentiary exam) is necessary, it is conducted by a specially trained medical practitioner, not by the first-response officer. You may also be contacted by a detective for a follow-up interview providing more information about what occurred.  

Sexual assault? Your right to a victim advocate 

If you’re a victim of sexual assault or sexual violence, you have the right to have a victim advocate present with you during the evidentiary exam as well as all law enforcement and prosecutor interviews.  

Local law enforcement agencies

Relationship violence 

Domestic violence and dating violence: Two sides of the same coin  

Concerned you’re in a violent relationship?      

Is someone close to you hurting you? Then there’s a good chance you’re in a relationship of domestic or dating violence.  

It’s important to understand that any kind of relationship can become violent – physically, emotionally, or both. 

What is domestic violence? 

Domestic violence is abuse of anyone, adult or child, by someone in that person’s circle of relationships. Abusers may include an adult or minor who is: 

  • A spouse or former spouse 
  • Someone who lives with you or used to live with you 
  • Someone with whom the person being abused has a child 
  • Someone with an existing or prior dating or engagement relationship with the person being abused 

What is dating violence? 

Dating violence is abuse by someone who is, or has been, in a dating, romantic or intimate relationship with the victim – often, all three at once.  

Get help right away 

As soon as you think you may be experiencing domestic or dating violence, take action to protect yourself and those around you (such as children) and to keep the abuse from getting worse. 

In other words: Get help and support immediately.  

A number of confidential resources, on Campus and in the community, are available to help you. 

Domestic violence: more information 

Visit the following sites for more information on domestic violence: 

Warning signs of an abusive personality 

Although anyone can turn out to be an abuser, there are warning signs to stay alert for – signs that are common in people with abusive personalities. They include: 

Common behaviors of abusers 

Of course, not all abusive people show the same signs or display them to the same extent. However, if someone displays several of them, you have good reason to be concerned that he or she may be, or become, abusive. 

  • Generally, the more warning signs displayed, the greater the likelihood of violence.  

It’s also true, however, that an abuser may display only one or two warning signs. Should you be concerned?  

  • Yes, particularly if they are exaggerated and the person displays them repeatedly – for example, extreme jealousy.  

Often, at the start of a relationship, the abuser will try to explain outbursts of this behavior as signs of his or her love and concern. The victim may be flattered at first, but as time goes on, the behaviors typically become increasingly severe.  

  • That’s when the victim may begin to see that the abuser’s behavior is actually dominating, controlling and manipulative. 

If you’re concerned that you may be in an abusive relationship or experiencing dating or domestic violence, please seek out support. There are several confidential resources on campus and in the community that may be able to help you.  

For more information or to speak with someone about planning for your personal safety, please see Confidential UCSF Resources.

Who are the abusers – and their victims? 

Outside of the abusive relationship, domestic/dating abusers and their victims aren’t easy to identify. That’s because they look like the rest of us, in all our infinite variety: 

  • All genders
  • From all ethnic backgrounds 
  • All ages, including children 
  • Identifying as male, female, or another gender 
  • Involved in relationships with: 
  • Persons of another or the same gender 
  • Two or more persons at the same time (polyamorous) 


What is stalking? 

When someone deliberately and repeatedly targets a specific person with behavior that gives that person reason to fear for his or her safety – that’s stalking. 

If you were being stalked, the stalker’s repeated behaviors might include: 

  • Following you and showing up wherever you are 
  • Sending you unwanted gifts, letters, cards, e-mails or text messages 
  • Damaging your home, car or other property 
  • Monitoring your phone calls or computer use 
  • Using technology, such as hidden cameras or global positioning systems (GPS), to track where you go 
  • Driving by or hanging out at your home, school or work 
  • Threatening to hurt you, your family, friends or pets 
  • Posting information or spreading rumors about you on the internet, in a public place or by word of mouth 
  • Doing other things that control, track or frighten you 

Steps to take if you are being stalked 

Typically, the first step in getting stalking to stop is simply to tell the person who’s doing it to stop it. This may work when you know the person and/or the stalking hasn’t escalated to threats of violence.  

  • You may not want to do this if you think it places you in additional danger. 

If you’re being stalked, it’s important to write down every stalking event. That way, you can produce documentation of the stalker’s behavior. Keep a log of the date, time, type of contact, any witnesses and any actions you took, including reporting the behavior. 

  • You have the right to report the stalking behavior: Stalking is a crime and prohibited by UC policy. 
  • To speak with someone confidentially about your options or safety, please see Confidential UCSF Resources.
  • The UCSF Confidential CARE Advocate may be able to help you obtain a restraining order. 

Reduce your risk of sexual assault 

Always remember that, whether or not a victim takes steps to minimize the risk, the only person to blame when sexual violence occurs is the perpetrator. 

Strategies you can use to minimize sexual assault risk include: 

  • Trust your gut instinct. If a situation doesn’t feel right, don’t worry about offending anyone – just leave. 
  • Be alert for when someone isn’t respecting your personal boundaries. If it happens, don’t be afraid to insist that it stop.  
  • Most perpetrators of sexual violence will look for vulnerable targets: for example, people who seem unaware of their surroundings, under the influence of alcohol or drugs or alone or isolated from their friends. 
  • Control all means of access to your home, dorm room and car: Lock your doors and close all windows that provide easy access. 
  • Travel in groups when possible. 
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help in situations where you feel unsafe. For example, ask for an escort to your car, tell your friends you want to leave the party, or ask a friend to stay with you. 

Confidential UCSF resources

The resources listed below are available to provide support or counseling to survivors on a fully confidential basis. These resources can provide critically important assistance, but reporting to them will not lead to action being taken by UCSF.

Other UCSF resources (non-confidential)

San Francisco Bay Area community resources  

San Francisco Trauma Recovery Center 
(415) 437-3000 

WOMAN INC., Domestic Violence Services 
24-hour crisis line 
(877) 384-3578

(415) 333-4357

SAN FRANCISCO WOMEN AGAINST RAPE, Crisis Center and Counseling 
24-hour rape crisis line 
(415) 647-RAPE (7273)

San Francisco District Attorney Victim Services
(628) 652-4100

Miscellaneous resources