Skip Sub Menu

Helping Yourself

If you’ve experienced sexual or interpersonal misconduct, take care of yourself. Remember that no matter what the circumstances, you are not to blame. Give yourself permission to do what you need to take care of yourself. Tell someone you trust for support. This could be anyone, so think about who would be the most supportive. This person may be a good listener or be able to provide resources and options. If you need someone to talk through these options, you can call or text the Drake VIP hotline at 515-512-2972.

Immediately after sexual or interpersonal misconduct occurs

Consult with an advocate

Get medical care

Consider counseling

Create a safety plan

What you’re feeling is normal

Immediately after sexual or interpersonal misconduct occurs

  • Get to a safe place.
  • Contact someone who can help you: A friend, Drake Public Safety (811 or 271-2222), Des Moines Police (911), a local hospital or Planned Parenthood, a confidential advocate, or other campus and community agencies found on this page.
  • Preserve any evidence.  You do not have to make a decision about reporting the incident or filing a complaint, but consider taking steps to preserve as much evidence as possible.  In addition to preserving any physical evidence, you are encouraged to save, for example, text messages, instant messages, social networking pages, and other communications, and to keep pictures, logs, and any other relevant documents. You may also want to write down all the details you can recall about the incident.
    • For sexual assault, it is recommended that you not bathe, douche, change clothing, or clean bed linens/area where the assault occurred.  If you must change your clothes before seeking help, place them (including undergarments) in a brown paper bag. Placing clothes or all other possible pieces of evidence in a plastic bag will chemically render them useless during evidence collection procedures. 
  • Get medical attention. The decision to complete a medical exam after sexual or interpersonal misconduct does not require that you report the incident to law enforcement. For sexual assault, any Des Moines hospital or Planned Parenthood can provide a free, confidential medical examination at no cost to you. This exam is conducted by a certified Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE). 
    • Within 120 hours after a sexual assault, the SANE can collect forensic evidence through the medical exam. The evidence will be sealed and stored immediately after completing the procedure.
    • At any time after a sexual assault (even after 120 hours), a SANE can help care for known or hidden injuries as well as explore options for screening and prevention for sexual transmitted diseases, HIV/AIDS, and/or pregnancy.
    • While the first exam is free, you may also apply to have certain expenses related to follow-up medical care, counseling, or other accrued expenses related to the assault covered through the Iowa Crime Victim Compensation Program.  For an application and other information related to this process, please visit:

Consult with an advocate

Advocacy is a safe and confidential starting point for individuals affected by sexual assault, relationship violence, stalking, sexual harassment and other related experiences. An advocate can talk with you about medical care, safety planning, counseling, and more. Meeting with an advocate will not automatically trigger any kind of investigation by the University or the police. Des Moines has several confidential community advocates available:

Advocacy and support

Domestic Violence Services (CFI)


Polk County Crisis and Advocacy

515-286-3600* or office hours in the Counseling Center on Wednesdays 3:00-4:30 (fall & spring terms)

Violence Intervention Partner (VIP)

515-512-2972* call/text

L.U.N.A. Latina Sexual and Domestic Violence Services

866-256-7668* crisis line

515-271-5060 business line

Monsoon United Asian Women of Iowa


Nissa African Women’s Project


Iowa Sexual Assault Hotline


Iowa Domestic Violence Hotline

800-770-1650* or text 'IOWAHELP' to 20121


*Available 24/7

What to expect when working with an advocate

  • Share as much or as little information as you would like to share.
  • Learn about common reactions to sexual assault, relationship violence, stalking, sexual harassment, trauma, and other experiences.
  • Discuss resources for medical care.
  • Learn about your rights and reporting options.
    • Discuss making a report to the University through the Sexual and Interpersonal Misconduct Policy. The advocate is available to help support you through this process.
    • Discuss making a report to the police. The advocate is available to help support you through this process.
  • Discuss how you can take care of yourself and heal through counseling options, stress reduction techniques, support groups, and/or other resources.
  • Make a safety plan.
  • Learn about protection orders.
  • Discuss how your experience may have affected work or school and how the advocate can help by working with the University.
  • Learn about other resources in the community and at Drake.
  • Make a holistic plan for managing and reducing the impact of this experience here at Drake.

Get medical care

If you’ve experienced sexual or interpersonal misconduct, medical care can be helpful for treating or preventing illness and injury. It is also an important way to preserve evidence to prove criminal behavior or to obtain a protection order. 

Any Des Moines hospital or Planned Parenthood can provide a free, confidential medical examination at no cost to you at any time after a sexual assault. This exam is conducted by a certified Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE). Within 120 hours after a sexual assault, the SANE can collect forensic evidence through the medical exam. The evidence will be sealed and stored immediately after completing the procedure. At any time after a sexual assault (even after 120 hours), a SANE can help care for known or hidden injuries as well as explore options for screening and prevention for sexual transmitted infections, HIV/AIDS, and/or pregnancy.

The Des Moines community has several locations where a SANE can help you:

Health care organizations

Broadlawns Medical Center


1801 Hickman, Des Moines

Iowa Lutheran Hospital


700 E. University Ave., Des Moines

Iowa Methodist Hospital


1200 Pleasant St., Des Moines

Mercy Medical Center


1111 Sixth Ave., Des Moines

Planned Parenthood of the Heartland-Rosenfield Health Center



1000 E. Army Post Rd., Des Moines (M-F, 8-5 p.m.) SANE exams cannot be started too late in the afternoon because the clinic must close at 5, so a hospital may be a better choice depending on the time and day.

 *Available 24/7

The Student Health Center is always an option for medical care and treatment; however, the Health Center is not able to collect evidence for preservation or offer a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner. You can reach the Student Health Center at 515-271-3731 or visit at 3116 Carpenter Ave.

What to expect:

  • A physical exam will identify any injuries, aches or pains, whether you notice them right away or not.
  • Emergency contraception is available to prevent pregnancy.
  • Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) testing and treatment is available to prevent infection and help with your peace of mind.
  • Medication is available to reduce the risk of acquiring Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), called HIV post-exposure prophylaxis.
  • While the most common drug used to facilitate sexual assault is alcohol, you may suspect that you were given a sedating substance or other drug that rendered you unable to consent. There are tests that can help determine if you were given a sedating substance or other drug.
  • Trained Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE nurses) treat injuries and collect evidence after a sexual assault. There is no charge for the evidence collection exam. You may decline any part of the exam at any time. You do not have to decide right away whether you want to report to the police. The evidence obtained in the SANE exam will be stored for a period of time, so if you decide you want to report to the police later, that evidence may still be available.  This exam will take longer than a typical medical exam—you may bring a friend or family member with you. The SANE nurse will:
    • Document your medical history.
    • Examine and treat you for injuries.
    • Take photos when needed.
    • Provide testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infection or pregnancy.
    • Communicate with law enforcement.

Consider counseling

If you feel overwhelmed or are having trouble dealing with problems on your own, seeking confidential counseling might be a good option for you. There are many ways to take care of yourself and heal through counseling options, stress reduction techniques, support groups, and other resources. Consider contacting a counselor you have worked with at home or contact one of Drake’s counseling options:

Counseling and support

University Counseling Center (students)


University Spiritual Counselor, Ted Lyddon-Hatten


Crisis Observation Center (students or employees)

515-282-5742* (or Drake Public Safety can assist 271-2222)

Employee Assistance Program (employees; not including student employees)

515-244-6090* or 800-327-4692*

  *Available 24/7

Create a safety plan

If you feel unsafe after sexual or interpersonal misconduct, there are steps you can take to feel safer. For example, a Drake safety plan can be created for your University classes, housing, activities, programs, or the workplace. The University can work with you to create a safety plan even if you chose not to make a report to the police or seek a formal investigation by the University.

No-contact or no-trespass orders can be requested through the University to help reduce or eliminate contact from the other person. It is important to know that University no-contact orders may not encompass all potential situations if the other person is not a Drake student, if they live off-campus or have graduated. That’s why it can often be helpful to involve Des Moines Police in broader safety planning outside of campus.

Campus and local law enforcement

Drake Department of Public Safety


Des Moines Police Department

911* (emergency) or 515-283-4864 or 515-283-4811 (non-emergency)

 *Available 24/7

Finally, sometimes sexual assault or violence can happen in the context of a dating relationship, and people may have unique safety concerns. Your safety and well-being are of the utmost importance. Take warning signs and threats seriously. If you feel unsafe, trust your instincts. Making a safety plan before you need it will help hone your instincts to be able to quickly react in case of an emergency. Some things to think about for a safety plan include:

  • Who you can call when you need help. Alert people you trust that you have some safety concerns, such as friends, family members, roommates, a boss, a professor, or counselor. Always call 911 if you are in immediate danger.
  • Safe places. Choose a few places where you know you will be safe. Practice how to get out of a place if you think things are getting dangerous. Plan how you are going to get to the safe place, whether you can drive yourself, call a friend, or take a bus.
  • Keep important things with you at all times. This might include a cell phone and charger, wallet with driver’s license, money, credit cards, bank cards, keys, protection order, and medication. You can also pack a bag in advance and leave it with a friend.
  • Changes at home. Decide if you feel safe at your current residence or if you would like to move or stay somewhere else. If you want to stay at home, consider things like changing locks, moving your furniture around for an easy escape, switching apartments, or other options.
  • Changes at school or work. Decide if you can make changes in your school or work schedule.  Drake Department of Public Safety can assist you in this process.
  • Changes to your daily routine. Consider whether the other person may know your schedule. Try new routes to school or work, and/or change where you eat meals.
  • Use the buddy system. You may feel safer if you are with trusted friends.
  • Check places online where you have identifying information. This might include the Drake student database, networking or social websites and apps, departmental and class websites, and list serves, among others. You might search for yourself in Google to see if identifying information comes up and then try to get it removed.
  • Consider filing a police report for an incident. This will create a record that may help in future situations.
  • Consider filing for a protection order. Iowa law allows for a person to file a civil case in court, asking a judge to grant an order to protect them from another person whose behavior is abusive, threatening, exploitative, or seriously alarming. 

What you are feeling is normal

Responses of survivors will vary from individual to individual. Sexual and interpersonal misconduct can be extremely traumatic and life-changing. It’s important to remember that your responses are not wrong or crazy; they are normal reactions to a traumatic situation. Below are some common questions and feelings survivors of sexual assault may experience but it is not necessarily an exhaustive list.

Why did this happen to me?

You didn’t do anything wrong. It’s not your fault. Your power was taken away by someone else. Sexual violence can happen to anyone, regardless of age, gender, race, sexual orientation, religion, etc. 

When will I be okay? When will this be over? When will I stop feeling so bad?

It is hard to understand that someone would do this to you and that there would be so much pain. It isn’t fair, but you did survive. You are strong and courageous. There is no blueprint for healing. It is on your own time schedule and in your own way. There are people who can help you if you need it.

How do I get over this?

No one was taught how to heal from a trauma, so it’s scary. There are no simple 10 steps to healing, but healing is happening. Talking about it is a very important healing tool. Sexual assault is not something that any individual will ever “get over” in their lifetime, rather it becomes an experience that makes up the character and being of the victim/survivor that has no more or no less impact on the individual than any other life experience.

No one understands!

You are not alone. These are common feelings of survivors. Even if you feel that no one can understand your personal situation, there are those out there who want to help and support you through this time.

I feel like I am going crazy!

You are not crazy; you are dealing with a “crazy” difficult situation. Many survivors have this feeling.

It wasn’t that big of a deal.

What happened was a trauma and can affect you very much. Sometimes you don’t realize the extent of how it is affecting you right away. But just pretending it didn’t happen or ignoring it won’t be helpful in the healing process.

I’m just imagining this. This couldn’t really have happened.

It’s hard to believe something so awful and so painful happened but research shows that memories like this are typically real. Memories of painful experiences are sometimes blocked until you’re ready to process them and move on.

Report to Title IX
Contact Drake Public Safety
Confidential Resources

Quick contacts to reach confidential support

  • VIP student support or advocacy
    515-512-2972 (call or text)
  • Polk County Crisis and Advocacy
  • Professional advocate at the Counseling Center 
        - Wednesdays 3:00-4:30 during fall & spring term