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Sexual Harassment, Assault and Rape

Cultural and social attitudes toward sexual harassment, sexual assault, rape and sexual assault victims, vary greatly in different countries.  However, respecting and adapting to cultural difference does not mean that you need to submit to behaviors that invade your personal boundaries or that makes you feel unsafe or uncomfortable.

American University and AU Abroad take these issues very seriously. If an American University student discloses an experience of stalking, sexual harassment, sexual assault or rape to any study abroad program staff member or advisor, that staff member or advisor will be required to make a report of the assault to the Office of the Dean of Students. The Dean of Students will follow-up with the student regarding what was reported.

American University also provides free and confidential advocacy services to all students even while they are abroad. You are encouraged to contact the Office of Advocacy Services for Interpersonal and Sexual Violence (OASIS) within the Wellness Center. An advocate can provide support, information, and assistance in navigating the reporting and adjudication process. Email a confidential advocate at OASIS@american.edu or call +1-202-885-7070.

A few words of advice before you depart:

  • Research and understand the cultural norms, laws and attitudes relating to sex, sexual assault, sexual harassment and rape in your host country;
  • Research and understand the resources at American University that are available to support you.
  • Clearly understand the difference between a confidential and non-confidential resource 
  • Research the resources that may be available to you abroad via the links provided below.

And while you are abroad:

  • Follow the general guidelines in the Personal Safety and Crime section to minimize your risk of becoming a victim.
  • If you are sexually assaulted:
    • Find a place where you feel safe.
    • Contact someone you trust who can support you.
    • Consider reaching out to OASIS in the Wellness Center. OASIS employs two confidential victim advocates who provide services to all AU students, including those who are studying abroad. Email OASIS@american.edu or call +1-202-885-7070 to access free and confidential services.
    • Consider contacting the Department of State at +1 202-647-4444 or call the emergency number for U.S. citizens at the U.S. Embassy in your country. Someone at each U.S. embassy will answer the phone 24 hours a day and advise regarding local laws and customs.
    • Consider seeking medical attention even if you are not seeking evidence collection.  It is important to be tested for sexually transmitted infections and to treat possible internal injury.
    • Consider talking with a counseling professional who can help you begin to process and understand what happened.  This person can help you cope with emotional difficulties that may arise after an assault.
    • If you feel you want to report the assault to the local authorities, make sure you first obtain advice on doing so from one or more of the resources listed above. If you do decide t0 go to the authorities to make a report, do not go alone; be sure to bring someone with you who can support you.

Additional resources: