Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Below are commonly asked questions about support, resources, and resolution processes available through the Title IX Office. If you have additional questions, please reach out for more information.

Going to the Hospital

Seeking medical support is an important and sometimes time-sensitive step following sexual assault or physical violence. This section includes information on SAFE exams, local hospitals, and what to expect if you seek medical care following an assault.

+Why would someone need to go to the hospital?

Instances of sexual violence or intimate partner violence may require medical attention. In many cases, it’s important to seek some level of medical attention in order to be checked and treated for possible injuries, as well as HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Health care providers can also provide emergency contraceptives. When seeking support outside of the hours of Bates Health Services, (9am-5pm during the academic year), students may consider visiting the Central Maine Medical Center (CMMC) or St Mary’s Regional Medical Center Emergency Departments. Note that Sexual Assault Forensic Examiners are available at CMMC to perform forensic exams and collect physical evidence for future use.

+Which hospital should I go to? How will I get there?

Bates College is located within a 1 mile distance from both Central Maine Medical Center (CMMC) and St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center. While both hospitals can provide appropriate medical treatment, Sexual Assault Forensic Examiners are more readily available at CMMC to perform forensic exams and collect physical evidence. 

Campus Safety can provide transportation to students to either emergency department upon request for a SAFE exam.  The ResLife Coordinator on Call can also help you request a ride to the hospital. To contact Campus Safety or a Reslife Coordinator on Call, call Campus Safety at 207-786-6254. Please note that disclosure to a staff member of the college will trigger a report to the Title IX Coordinator. In response, the only thing that will happen is you will receive an email from the Title IX Coordinator offering support.

+What do I ask for when I get to the ER?

Disclosure of sexual violence or intimate partner violence can be made at any point during treatment and whenever the patient feels comfortable enough to do so. It’s also okay to say you aren’t sure what treatment you need. If you want a physical exam that documents and records evidence of a sexual assault, you should ask for a SAFE exam (more information below).

+What is a SAFE exam?

Sexual Assault Forensic Exams, or SAFE Exams, are used for the medical diagnosis and  treatment of someone who has experienced sexual assault. SAFE exams also collect DNA samples from your body, clothing, or other personal belongings that can be later used as evidence. Consenting to a SAFE exam does not mean you have to report your assault. SAFE exams are also free of cost and are not billed to insurance. For more information, click here (link to Gwen’s document)

If you are considering a SAFE exam, you should not shower, change your clothing, brush your teeth, or do anything else that may compromise physical evidence before going to the hospital.

+Who performs my SAFE exam?

SAFE exams can be performed by registered nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and physicians who have been specially trained to administer SAFE exams and interact with patients who have experienced sexual assault or abuse. These providers are also competent in serving as expert or fact witnesses in court. In addition to the medical provide performing the exam, an advocate from Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Services (SAPARS) will also be called to accompany and support the patient throughout the process. This person is confidential, and patients always have the option to use them or not.

+How long will a SAFE exam take?

They can be as short as a patient wants, or as extensive as the patient will allow. Patients can refuse any part of the exam, and are in no way required to do any parts of it. The exam can be very intrusive and difficult to do. But, providers are aware of how difficult the exams are and work with the patient to provide compassionate care. The average length of a comprehensive exam is about three hours.

+What if some parts of the SAFE exam make me uncomfortable?

A patient may consent to some, all, or any parts of a SAFE Exam. In addition, consent can be revoked at any point during the exam. The exam can be done in almost any order to accommodate the patient’s comfort as much as possible.

+Will there be a police presence at my SAFE exam? Do I need to talk to them?

Hospitals are required to inform police when a SAFE exam is requested, and an officer will respond to the ER in case the patient would like to file a police report. Patients should never be forced to interact with police if they have not explicitly asked or agreed to speak with them, and law enforcement should not be present in the exam room.

+Can someone come with me? Can I have someone there during a SAFE exam?

An advocate from Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Services can be called to accompany and support the patient throughout the process. This person is confidential, and patients always have the option to utilize them or not. If you would like an advocate present, please ask for one! You can also call Campus Safety and ask to speak to the Coordinators on Call. They can contact the SAVA, who may be available to attend the SAFE exam with you. 

If you would like to bring a friend, you should also ask the person checking you in at the hospital. You may be permitted one person in the room with you during the exam, but please note that any individual present in the room during a SAFE exam may be called as a witness during legal proceedings.

Please note that hospital policies around visitors may differ depending on the hospital and current public health conditions.

+Who can guide me through this process? Why would I want an advocate present for a SAFE exam?

An advocate from a local advocacy group like SAPARS (Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Services) can listen compassionately, provide emotional support, and talk about options. They can also assist with navigating complex systems and can answer questions about the SAFE exam process, as well as provide support throughout the exam experience.

+I don’t think I want a SAFE exam, should I still go to the hospital?

Sexual assault and violence can affect affect your physical health, and it’s possible that you could have trauma or injuries that aren’t immediately visible. Seeking medical treatment after an assault is important and can help you access necessary treatment for any injuries, as well as preventative treatments for STIs and emergency contraception.

+Is there a time limit on how soon I need to get to an ER?

The sooner the better. In most cases, DNA evidence needs to be collected within 72 hours in order to be analyzed by a crime lab. However, a SAFE exam can reveal other forms of evidence beyond this time frame that can be useful if you decide to report.

For emergent medical concerns, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. This is true for SAFE exams as well, and it’s best to seek an exam within 72 hours of the incident. However, new recommendations for modified exams allow for exams up to 5-7 days post assault. 

+How long will the visit to the ER take?

Your ER visit may vary based on your medical needs, as well as the status of the ER in the moment. Some visits may be shorter, while others may take a few hours. On average, SAFE Exams take three hours to complete in full – not including time you may need to wait before beginning the exam.

+How will I pay for a SAFE exam?

Whether or not the assault is reported, the patient and their insurance companies cannot be billed for the sexual assault forensic exam (it is against the law). The Violence Against Women Act requires states to provide sexual assault forensic exams free of charge if they wish to remain eligible for critical anti-crime grant funding. If you are charged for the exam, immediately contact your local sexual assault service provider.

If you have concerns about your insurance being charged, or about payment for additional services (ex: x-rays or CT scans), you should share these concerns with the individual checking you in at the hospital. The Maine Crime Victims’ Compensation Fund can assist with paying for additional costs.

+Does this show up on my health insurance?

SAFE Exams are never billed to insurance and will be logged on paper records. Anything in addition to what is included in the SAFE Exam box will be done separately from the kit, and will use an electronic medical record. Billing will use standard protocols for each specific injury, and should never mention a forensic kit whatsoever.

+What can I expect in terms of future medical care?

Follow up for any medical issues that were addressed outside of the SAFE Exam kit will be done via standard protocol for that specific injury. There will be no notation of a kit in any electronic medical records, so the injuries will be treated and followed up on according to the specific injury, and completely independent from the kit. Any follow-up from the SAFE Exam will be done by the SAFE examiner who worked with you. 

You may also consider sharing basic information regarding your assault with future medical providers. This may allow you to have conversations with your provider about your needs during physical exams, such as announcing what they are doing before they do it, proceeding slowly, or taking breaks. Recognizing that there can be long-term physical and mental health needs associated with sexual assault or violence, it may be helpful for your physician to know about your history, so that they can better diagnose and and treat other symptoms or conditions.

Filing a Police Report

In addition to Bates support services, Bates community members also have the option to file a police report. This section includes information about reporting to law enforcement.

+What are the steps of a law enforcement process?

Law enforcement processes following assault or violence typically include an initial report, followed by a recorded interview, investigation, decisions regarding prosecution, and, if applicable, a trial. This process may take as long as two years. You may also file for a Protection Order, which is separate from criminal prosecution. Protection Orders require a hearing.

+If I don’t go to the police, should I still save any evidence that I have?

Yes. Any evidence that is collected can be helpful in building a case or reporting evidence. Saving evidence also provides you with the flexibility to explore reporting options through Bates or through the police later on.

+How long do I have to make a police report?

Time limits for reporting are often referred to as “statute of limitations.” In the state of Maine, the statue of limitation for sexual assault can range from 3-20 years depending on the type of assault or act of violence.

+Will I see police officers at the hospital if I get a SAFE exam?

Probably. Hospitals are required to inform police when a SAFE exam is requested, and an officer will respond to the ER in case the patient would like to file a police report. Patients should never be forced to interact with police if they have not explicitly asked or agreed to speak with them, and law enforcement should not be present in the exam room.

+How long does the average criminal case take from start to finish?

Working through a lawsuit may take weeks, months, or even years. The average criminal case may take up to two years to complete from start to finish.

Reporting

Bates community members have access to a variety of resources provided by the college and within the community. When reporting, individuals may also be able to access information regarding the college’s policies and procedures and other support services, including supportive measures or other remedies. 

+Who do I speak to with questions about the Title IX process?

With questions about anything related to the Title IX process, reach out to Gwen Lexow or the SAVA. If you would like to speak confidentially, reach out to the SAVA. If you wish, you can also ask questions or have a conversation with Gwen without submitting a formal report or identifying yourself.

+How do I file a formal complaint with the College (a Title IX complaint)?

To file a formal complaint, which triggers the start of the formal resolution process (described below), reach out to the Title IX Coordinator, Gwen Lexow.

+Can I report something without the person who harmed me finding out? (What’s the difference between a report and a formal complaint?)

If you only want to share what has happened to you with the Title IX Office, but not begin a resolution process (which notifies the other person(s) involved), you can file a report. A report allows you to share your experience with the Title IX Office, and receive support. A formal complaint will trigger a resolution process to begin, which notifies the other person(s) involved that the process has been initiated.

+What happens when a third party reports something to the Title IX Office?

Whenever a report comes into the Title IX Office, the most important priority is ensuring the person who has experienced harm is getting support. If the report contains the name of this person, Gwen Lexow will reach out to them via email to offer support. The email will have the subject “Offer of Assistance,” and it is up to the recipient to respond to the email or not. The Title IX Office will not initiate an investigation or alert the alleged respondent unless there is a threat of extreme danger to the community.

+Can I report to just the college, just the police, or both?

You can do any combination of these. You have the option to report to as many entities as you wish. The Lewiston Police Department and the Bates Title IX Office work independently, so you may choose to report to one or both. The Title IX Office will only involve law enforcement after receiving a report if there is a threat of extreme danger to the community.

+Can I report something anonymously?

Yes, anonymous reporting is available through an outside portal, EthicsPoint. To access the Bates anonymous reporting form, click here.

Support & Resources

Support is available in many forms for any Bates community member who has experienced bias, harassment, discrimination, or violence. This section includes information about support on-campus and off-campus, in particular for those who have experienced sexual violence. A summary chart of resources is available here.

+Who can I speak with on campus for support?

Confidential Resources (not required to report a disclosure to the TItle IX Office)

Private Resources (required to report a disclosure to the Title IX Office)

  • Title IX Coordinator: Gwen Lexow | titleix@bates.edu | 207-786-6445
  • Residence Life Coordinators: on-call 24/7 while classes are in session | 207-786-6111
  • JAs and RCs: Student ResLife Staff | reach out within your residence

A chart of all resources is available here.

+What is the difference between a confidential resource and a private resource?

A confidential resource is someone who does not need to report disclosures of harm to the Title IX Office. All employees of the college, including some student employees are “responsible employees,” which means that they must report disclosures of harm to the Title IX Office. The only exception to this is for employees who are designated as confidential resources.

A private resource is someone who either works in the Title IX Office, or is required to report to Title IX. These people will keep your information as private as possible, and only share it when necessary to make a report.

+Is there counseling available on campus?

Counseling and Psychological Services, or CAPS, provides free counseling for all students. CAPS is located on the second floor of the Bates Health Services building at 31 Campus Ave. To make an appointment, call 207-786-6200 or email CAPS@bates.edu, and for more information, visit the CAPS website, here.

+What about off-campus counseling?

Students seeking counseling with an off-campus provider may connect with CAPS to help facilitate the process of finding an off-campus provider. Although students are generally responsible for seeking their own care when they choose not to utilize services through Bates, CAPS has partnered with UWill, a mental health platform for colleges and universities, that provides 8 teletherapy sessions to enrolled Bates students free of charge. More information about UWill is available here.

+Are there other off-campus resources if I don’t want to seek clinical mental health care?

Yes. There is a comprehensive list of resources here. Community-based resources here in Lewiston/Auburn include advocacy organizations (SAPARS & Safe Voices), and medical providers (Maine Family Planning).

+Are there support groups on campus?

Oasis is a 5-week support group co-facilitated by the SAVA (Lindy Magness) and the Multifaith Chaplain (Brittany Longsdorf). Oasis typically runs once per semester, and is advertised in Bates Today before the first session. 

+Are there resources for people with specific identity concerns?

Yes. There is a comprehensive list of resources here, including those for immigrants, trans* individuals, male-identified survivors, survivors of domestic violence,  and survivors of stalking.

+What do I do if I’m having a hard time in my classes as a result of my experience?

Help with academic pressure is a supportive measure that we are happy to arrange, and students are in control of what level of detail professors receive about their personal lives and experiences. For assistance of this type, reach out to Gwen Lexow or the SAVA.

+I don’t want to have any contact with the person who harmed me. Can I have a No Contact Order put in place?

Most likely, yes. A No Contact Order can be put in place between two people in instances where there is reasonable concern that physical or psychological harm may result from contact. More information about No Contact Orders may be found here. If you would like to discuss a No Contact Order, reach out to Gwen Lexow or the SAVA.

+What if the person who harmed me is in my classes/has the same job/lives in the same building as me?

Bates College is a small campus, and often students’ lives are intertwined in multiple ways. If this is the case, there are supportive measures available to navigate these issues. The Title IX Office may assist with class schedule changes, job scheduling changes, and room changes if needed. A No Contact Order can also be put in place — see above for details, or reach out to Gwen Lexow.

Formal Resolution Process

The formal resolution process follows a procedure that may result in sanctions or other measures of accountability towards the individual who caused harm. This process, prescribed by federal regulations that Bates is required to follow, is explained below.

+What is a formal resolution?

A formal grievance process (outlined by federal Title IX regulations) that includes a fact-gathering investigation into the complaint, a determination hearing, and opportunities for appeal.

+What does a ‘formal process,’ or formal resolution, entail?

1: Formal complaint submitted to the Title IX office. The complainant will meet with the Title IX Coordinator and submit their complaint – a summary of what happened to them, and who caused the harm. This sends an official notification to the complainant and to the person(s) accused of causing harm (the respondent), and notifies them that a formal Title IX process will take place.

2: Investigative phase. A neutral investigator (usually an external lawyer with relevant expertise, hired by Bates) will interview the complainant and the respondent(s) and any relevant witnesses to the incident. The investigator will then compile a draft report summarizing the interviews and any other evidence surrounding the incident. Both the complainant and the respondent will then have time to review the draft and provide feedback/comments. Finally, the investigator will make any necessary changes and create a final draft of the evidence report.

3: Hearing and determination. After the investigator concludes the investigation phase, an in-person or Zoom hearing is held.  During the hearing a neutral decision-maker (typically an external lawyer with relevant expertise, hired by Bates) reviews the evidence and asks clarifying questions of the parties.  Both the complainant and respondent will also have an opportunity to ask questions of the other parties through their advisors.  The decision-maker will then make a determination of whether or not the school’s policy was broken during the incident.

4: Applicable sanctions and option to appeal. If the outcome of the hearing results in a determination that the policy was broken, the respondent will receive applicable disciplinary sanctions according to the determined infraction. According to federal regulations, both parties have the right to appeal the finding and sanctions based on limited grounds.

You can also view a chart outlining the resolution processes here. Additional informational charts are available here.

+Who oversees the formal resolution process?

The Title IX Coordinator is responsible for keeping the formal process moving forward according to the regulations.

The complainant may request to end the process at any time before a determination is made. Either party may also ask to switch to an alternative resolution (see below) if they would rather resolve the issue outside of the formal process.

Alternative Resolution Process

The alternative resolution process follows a somewhat more flexible procedure for a community member who was harmed to find a mutually-agreeable resolution with the person who caused the harm.

+What is an alternative resolution?

An alternative resolution creates an opportunity for the person who was harmed (the complainant) and the person who caused harm (the respondent) to reach a mutually-agreeable resolution without going through a full formal resolution process.

+What does an alternative resolution entail?

1: Formal complaint submitted to the Title IX office. The complainant will meet with the Title IX Coordinator and submit their complaint – a summary of what happened to them, and who they are alleging caused the harm. This sends an official notification to the complainant and to the person(s) accused of causing harm (the respondent), and notifies them that a formal Title IX process will take place.

2: Request to pursue alternative resolution. Either the complainant or the respondent may request to pursue an alternative resolution process. The Title IX Coordinator makes a determination about whether alternative resolution is appropriate and, if so, presents the option to all parties.  The alternative resolution process is completely voluntary for all parties, and they must formally agree to pursue an alternative resolution before moving forward.

3: Draft resolution measures. Parties will discuss their goals for alternative resolution with the Title IX Coordinator.  This may  include potential remedies that they wish to be included in the alternative resolution. The Title IX Coordinator will determine the best way to move forward with meeting these goals. 

4: Final resolution agreement. Once a mutually-agreeable resolution is secured, both the complainant and the respondent will sign the resolution, move forward with the agreed-upon remedies, and the complaint will be officially considered resolved.

You can also view a chart outlining the resolution processes here. Additional informational charts are available here.

Other Title IX Resolution Options

Other Title IX Resolution options, such as an administrative resolution, offer students support without a formal investigation or determination of responsibility.

+Are there any other resolution options?

Yes, there is also an administrative resolution. This is a remedies-based solution that has no formal investigation or determination of responsibility.  The goal is to provide support to the individual coming forward with a report.

+I was harmed and have a complaint. Am I obligated to go through a resolution process?

No. You may choose to begin a formal, alternative, or administrative resolution, but you are not obligated to participate in any resolution process, nor are you required to complete a resolution process once you begin it. However, if a resolution process is not completed, there is no mandated outcome for the respondent.

+What if I file a formal complaint and change my mind?

That’s okay! This is a challenging process and we are here to support you in whatever way is best for your needs. Throughout a resolution process, you will be in communication with the Title IX Office; you can simply voice this concern to pause or end a resolution process.

+What is the time limit on starting a resolution process after an incident?

There isn’t one. While you are a Bates student, you can file a formal complaint, begin a resolution process, or access supportive measures at any time, regardless of when you experienced harm.

+What is the time limit on accessing support after experiencing sexual violence?

The Title IX Office will always work with students to discern what types of support they may need, and will provide support to any individual experiencing educational impacts from sexual violence, regardless of when or where it occurred.