If you experience any type of sexual violence, including relationship violence, while on the DIS program, please know that you have options and support is available to you as you begin the healing process.
If you are a victim/survivor of sexual violence, what happened to you was not your fault.
Experiencing sexual violence is difficult and it can be even more confusing and complicated if it occurs in another country. Victims/survivors often experience a range of emotions including fear, anxiety, confusion and loss of control. There is no one ‘right way’ to respond and determining what steps to take after a traumatic experience can be difficult, especially when you are far from home. The options listed below are a menu of things you can consider but need not utilize.
Although sexual violence of any kind can have an acute effect, most victims/survivors of these incidents find a way to recovery. DIS supports the victim/survivor’s right to make their own decisions about what is best for their recovery.
Assessing Safety/Reporting to Police
If your immediate safety is being threatened, please call the police at 112.
DIS encourages individuals to report incidents of sexual violence to the local police. Timely reporting to the police is an important factor in successful investigation and prosecution of sexual violence crimes, and may lead to the arrest of an offender or aid in the investigation of other prior incidents. DIS can assist students in reporting sexual violence to the local police but will not require that a student do so.
The U.S. Department of State also provides support to a U.S. citizen who is a victim of a crime abroad. Contact a Consular Service officer in Stockholm at 783 5300 both during business hours and after hours, seven days a week. Non-U.S. citizens may find similar supports from their local embassy or consulate.
You can also contact DIS to discuss your options and to request that someone from DIS accompany you to the police, or set up a meeting with a Consular Service Officer, for example.
- During Business Hours: DIS Care Team at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Outside of Business Hours: Find the DIS Health and Safety Emergency Phone Number here
Medical attention is available for physical, emotional, and sexual health needs. The DIS Care Team can make referrals to a counselor and additional medical resources. The Care Team can also help a student navigate the Swedish healthcare system and DIS insurance. If you would like a Care Team member to accompany you to a medical appointment, please ask.
Support from DIS
Regardless of the circumstances surrounding the incident of sexual violence or the individuals involved, DIS is available to support you. We understand that the violence perpetrated against you is terrible, even if not a violation of law in Sweden, the U.S., or another country. The DIS Care Team is a private resource and all members have training in supporting students after an incident abroad including incidents of sexual violence. The Care Team includes members who understand both the Swedish and American cultural context. They can help you consider your options and make referrals to experts as necessary. DIS policy is to support a victim/survivor toward recovery, thus, any related violations of the DIS Student Code of Responsibility will not be pursued. DIS will not require that a victim/survivor report to police, have a physical exam (or ‘rape kit‘), or go home early. However, we will support a student in doing any of these things, if they wish.
If an accused perpetrator of sexual violence is a member of the DIS community, DIS has the ability to impose sanctions for any violations of the DIS Student Code of Responsibility or related policies for faculty, staff, or hosts. Regardless of the identity of the alleged perpetrator, all victims/survivors have access to the support of the Care Team. However, DIS’s ability to adjudicate a complaint may be limited by the level of control it has over the learning environment and the alleged perpetrator. For more information, contact the the DIS Director of Health and Safety.
DIS staff (including the Care Team) and faculty are all private but not confidential resources. This means that any disclosure of sexual violence (or any other incident) will be treated as private information. Only those who need to know about the incident and are in a position to provide support will be informed. This will include someone at the student’s home university/college, who will provide information regarding on campus support options. No staff or faculty at DIS is a confidential resource. This means that nobody at DIS can guarantee to keep a disclosure of sexual violence secret. However, DIS will respect the student right to privacy. Fully confidential resources are provided below.
DIS Communication with Emergency Contacts
DIS will not contact a student’s listed emergency contacts (obtained during Student Registration) without the student’s express permission — unless the circumstances fall under our listed exceptions found on the DIS Communication with Emergency Contacts and Home University page. Note: These circumstances rarely apply in cases of sexual assault.
Confidential Support Options
Your Home Campus
Visit your campus website for information on confidential resources on your campus. Title IX, a U.S. federal law, requires that U.S. campuses identify both confidential and non-confidential support options for students. Among those who might be confidential (check with your own campus as confidential resources vary) are clergy, counselors, women’s center staff, and/or crisis center staff.
Resources in Sweden
Kvinnofridslinjen: A national hotline for women experiencing violence of threats of violence; tel.:020-50 50 50 (24/7)
Karolinska Health Center: refer to the website; tel.: 08-524 835 60 (during business hours)
International Hotlines & Information
International Directory of Domestic Violence Agencies: Global list of abuse hotlines, shelters, refuges, crisis centers and women’s organizations, plus domestic violence information in over 90 languages.
International Resources for Sexual Assault and Harassment: A directory of international resources to assist victims/survivors of sexual assault and harassment compiled by the University of Minnesota. The introduction also includes important tips and considerations.
Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN): Toll-free 24/7 hotline for sexual assault counseling and referrals: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673). RAINN also offers a hotline that provides live, secure, anonymous crisis support for victims of sexual violence, their friends and families over RAINN’s website. The online hotline is free of charge and available 24/7.
Pathways to Safety International: Phone, email or live chat with staff in the Crisis Center. Pathways to Safety International provides sexual assault prevention and response regardless of age, race, gender, sexual orientation or location worldwide.
It Happened To Alexa: Established in 2003, the Alexa Foundation helps support rape victims/survivors through the trauma of the criminal trial, in the hopes that more victims/survivors will go through with the prosecution in order to put these perpetrators behind bars. The foundation also assists rape victims/survivors’ families with travel expenses during the litigation process.
Non-Confidential Reporting Options
- DIS staff or faculty you trust
- The DIS Care Team
- Your campus Education Abroad Office, Title IX Coordinator, or other faculty/staff you trust
ServJustice: A D.C.-based national not-for-profit organization that increases the prospect of justice for all survivors through effective legal assistance that enforces victim rights and holds both perpetrators and enablers of sexual violence accountable in campus, U.S. criminal and U.S. civil systems.
U.S. Government Resources
The closest U.S. Embassy and Consulates. A list of resources and explanation of services from the U.S. Department of State for U.S. citizen victims of crime abroad. Non-U.S. citizens may find similar resources from their own embassy or consulate.
- Cosmopolitan magazine explains how to respond to a sexual assault abroad
- Go Overseas outlines both safety tips and resources following sexual violence
- Sexual Assault Victimization Among Female Undergraduates During Study Abroad is an article investigating the prevalence of sexual assault victimization and related factors among undergraduates in the context of study abroad programs
- A Huffington Post Article illustrates that Reporting Rape is but one choice