Preventing Sexual Assault
Research indicates that approximately nine out of 10 sexual assaults perpetrated against college women involve people who already know each other. College men are also sexually assaulted — usually by someone they know.
The university is committed to providing sexual violence prevention education to its campus community each year through Orientation Programs, in partnership with the Center for Women and Men. These programs provide mandatory sexual violence prevention education for all undergraduate students who attend new student orientation.
The Center for Women and Men also provides programs that are focused on changing attitudes and behaviors of those in the university community. Contact the Center for Women and Men at (213) 740-4900 to request a program.
For the university’s definition of sexual assault, see the University Student Conduct Code 11.53.
Preventing Assault by Strangers
- Be aware of what is going on around you. Walk assertively. You are less likely to become a target if you look like you know where you are going and what is happening around you.
- Do not walk alone, especially after dark. Ask a friend to walk with you to your car or residence. Take a USC Bus or call Campus Cruiser at (213) 740-4911 for an escort if you do not have anybody to walk with. If Campus Cruiser is unavailable, you may call the Department of Public Safety (DPS) for an escort at (213) 740-6000.
- When you go jogging, use the track or pick a route on campus with high visibility.
- Trust your instincts. If something feels wrong with a person, building or situation, then something probably is wrong. Change your plans, move away from the person, get out of the area – whatever is necessary for you to feel comfortable.
- If you think you are being followed, stay in well-lit areas and go into a store or restaurant. If these types of locations are not available, join a group of people and ask to walk with them until it is safe.
- Know the locations of the emergency blue light phones.
- Report any suspicious activity to DPS immediately at (213) 740-4321 (University Park Campus) or (323) 442-1000 (Health Sciences Campus).
- Take a self defense class offered by DPS (for women only). Call (213) 740-6000 for more information.
- Minimize your risk of consuming a rape drug by bringing your own drinks to parties and not leaving your drink unattended.
Safety Tips at Home
- Get to know your neighbors.
- Do not prop outside gates open.
- Lock your door, even if you are just going down the hall for a minute.
- Do not let strangers into your building, even if they look harmless.
- Report any suspicious people or activities to DPS immediately.
- Lock your windows and block sliding doors with a pole in the bottom track.
- Record serial numbers and keep photos and/or descriptions of all your valuables.
- If you receive an obscene phone call, hang up. If the calls continue, report them to DPS.
Safety Tips in the Car
- Keep windows rolled up, doors locked and possessions out of sight (in the trunk).
- Park in a well-lit area and check around and inside your car before you get in.
- Make sure your car runs well and has plenty of gas.
- If your car breaks down on the freeway, dial #511 on your cell phone and/or lift the hood and wait for help in your vehicle with your seat belt on.
- Never pick up strangers or go with a stranger who offers help. Instead, carry a cell phone so you can call for help.
- Do not allow another vehicle to force you off the road. Drive to a busy location, a police station or DPS if you need help.
Things You Must Have When Riding Your Bike
- A bike light when riding at night.
- Bicycle registration – required on campus. Register your bike at dps.usc.edu or call (213) 740-5519 for more information. See the Bicycle Policy in University Governance for more information.
- Working brakes – get new pads and adjustments at any bike shop.
- Helmet – required by California law for bicyclists under 18 years of age. Highly encouraged for persons over 18.
Rules to Keep in Mind When Riding
- Always ride on the right and with the flow of traffic (also required by California law). Ride on the road, and not on the sidewalk, when possible.
- Obey all traffic laws. You must stop at intersections, just like other vehicles. Pedestrians have the right-of-way.
- Take extra care when passing parking lot exits and other driveways.
- Learn more about California bicycle rules and safety at dmv.ca.gov/about/bicycle.htm.
Locking Your Bike
- Use a U-lock to secure your bike. At least lock your rear wheel and frame to a bike rack and use a second lock to secure the front wheel to the frame. Do not leave your bike locked “free standing.” A thief can easily walk away with the bike and remove the lock later.
- Do not park your bike in a doorway, on stairs or blocking any handicapped access. Use a bike rack. Violating bikes will be impounded.
Identifying Your Bicycle
Keep a record of your bike registration so if your bike is stolen, you can provide information for a police report. You should keep a record of the registration/ tag number, make, model, serial number, size, color and number of speeds of the bike. Unlicensed bikes have little chance of being returned to their owners.
What to do if …
You are sexually assaulted
- Go to a safe location. Contact the Center for Women and Men.
- Notify DPS at (213) 740-4321 and/or call 911 if you want to report the crime.
- Call a trusted friend, family member or someone else who can provide support.
- If the alleged assailant is a USC student, you can also report the crime to Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards at (213) 821-7373.
- Preserve all physical evidence of the assault, even if you are unsure whether you want to report the crime. Do not shower, bathe, douche, eat, drink, wash your hands or brush your teeth until after you have had a medical examination. Do not clean or disturb the area where the assault occurred.
- Save all the clothing you were wearing at the time of the assault and bring them and any other potential evidence to the medical exam. Place each item of clothing in a separate paper bag (do not use plastic bags).
- Get medical care as soon as possible from a hospital, emergency room or a specialized forensic clinic that works with sexual assault survivors. Some options in Los Angeles include the Rape Treatment Center and the Violence Intervention Program (see here for contact information).
- You may also request medications for the prevention of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, and emergency contraception. If more than one week has passed since the assault, or if you are certain that you do not want to report the crime, the Health Promotion and Prevention Services provides medical care, including emergency contraception, and testing for sexually transmitted infections.
- If you think you may have been given a rape drug, request that the hospital or clinic take a urine and blood sample. These samples need to be collected quickly as these drugs leave the system quickly.
- Talk to a counselor at the Center for Women and Men for emotional support and advocacy. If you prefer to seek confidential counseling off campus, call the Rape Treatment Center or Peace Over Violence (see here for contact information).
You are physically assaulted
Call DPS as soon as possible. Try to remember as much as you can about the assailant. Important characteristics include: sex, race, hair color and length, body size, clothing description, scars, tattoos, mode of travel and vehicle type, color and license plate number. DPS officers will immediately begin a search for the suspect(s).
You are the victim of a theft
If you have property stolen, there is little hope of recovering it unless you have marked it and/or recorded the serial numbers. Notify DPS as soon as you notice the theft and an officer will write a report. Try to supply as much information as possible about the stolen property. The majority of thefts on campus occur because property is left unsecured or unattended. It is estimated that over 80 percent of all thefts on campus could be prevented if everyone would secure their valuables.
You see suspicious behavior — “If you see something, say something.”
If you see someone acting suspiciously, call DPS at once. Do not approach the person yourself. Report what the person is doing and give a general description of the person. DPS will investigate your report immediately. If all members of the campus community become security conscious and report suspicious activity, thefts and other crimes have a better chance of being measurably reduced.
You receive a bomb threat
Stay calm. It is important to get as much information from the caller as possible. Be sure to ask about the location of the bomb, time set to explode and type of bomb. Listen to the caller’s voice and any background noise you hear. This information may help to identify the caller. Call DPS immediately. DPS officers will search the area involved and notify the Los Angeles Police Department bomb squad if necessary. DPS and the responsible department administrators and/or building supervisor together will determine if the building should be evacuated.
Your car is damaged
If your car has been damaged (hit and run or vandalism), notify DPS. An officer will conduct an initial investigation and file a report. Most insurance companies require a police report for any insurance claim.
You are seriously sick or injured
Call DPS at (213) 740-4321 on the University Park Campus or (323) 442-1000 on the Health Sciences Campus. Tell the dispatcher about the nature of your illness or injury and your exact location. A DPS officer will respond to assist you and will request Los Angeles Fire Department paramedics if necessary. Officers can also communicate with an on-call physician from the USC Engemann Student Health Center.
If you are not seriously injured or sick, contact the USC Engemann Student Health Center during regular business hours to schedule an appointment.