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Sexual Misconduct Abroad

Sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other physical or verbal conduct of a sexual nature, including sexual violence. Ohio State is committed to providing a living and study environment free from sexual harassment. Cultural norms surrounding gender roles and expectations are often different than those in the United States, and harassment may be particularly difficult to identify abroad. However, cultural sensitivity does not mean that you need to submit to behaviors that make you feel unsafe or uncomfortable. Educating yourself about sexual harassment, violence and gender dynamics abroad can empower you to engage in a safe international experience. Follow these guidelines:

  • Become educated beforehand about gender roles in the country you will be visiting.
  • Practice situational awareness and avoid traveling alone at night or in unfamiliar areas.
  • Avoid meeting people you do not know in a non-public place or leaving a public place with someone you just recently met.
  • Consider the ways that friendship and dating might be understood differently in your host country; some cultures tend to mistake the friendliness of Americans as aggressive or romantic interest.
  • Do not accept drinks from people you do not know or trust; do not leave a drink unattended; stop drinking if there are sudden changes to the way your body feels.
  • Practice bystander intervention, if something does not look right or a travel companion appears at risk, step in. 
  • Know your emergency resources including local 911 and hospital resources.

Sexual Harassment

Ohio State’s sexual misconduct policy defines harassment to include unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other physical or verbal conduct of a sexual nature related to academic status, academic decisions or that has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's academic performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment for learning or living. Sexual harassment as defined by university policy is also a violation of the code of student conduct.

The university encourages education abroad participants to report concerns and complaints so that prompt corrective measures can be taken to stop sexual harassment whenever it occurs. If you are encountering an environment of sexual harassment:

  • If the unwanted behavior is from a stranger, you should remove yourself from the environment, if possible.
  • If from a known acquaintance, you should be assertive and let the individual concerned know that his or her conduct is unwelcome and offensive to you.
  • Document what has happened in writing.
  • Report the situation to your program resident director or in-country contact. If you are uncomfortable discussing the situation with your resident director or host, contact your education abroad coordinator or the international risk manager.

Ohio State is committed to taking prompt and appropriate action in your support. Appropriate disciplinary action will be taken whether Ohio State or host country students and/or faculty are involved. If the individual who harassed you is not an employee or student of Ohio State or the host institution, you should still report the incident because the university may be able to act on your behalf with regard to the situation.

Sexual Assault and Sexual Violence

If you are the survivor of a sexual assault or violence abroad, what happened is not your fault. Ohio State is committed to taking prompt and appropriate action in your support. We encourage you to report any incident of sexual assault to your program resident director or in-country staff. You are also encouraged to contact the international risk manager at simmons.541@osu.edu or via the 24/7 International Emergency Phone Line at +1-614-292-6677. If you report an assault to Ohio State faculty or staff they should:

  • Inquire if you feel safe right now. If not, measures can be taken for your continued safety.
  • Inquire if you feel safe in the program or location. If not, measures can be taken for your continued safety.
  • Inquire if you need medical attention. The choice to seek medical assistance is entirely the decision of the survivor. Visits to a clinic or doctor, examinations and medications would be covered subject to the terms and conditions of the GeoBlue insurance policy. In addition, subject to terms and conditions, the policy has coverage for ongoing medical care and counseling services.
  • Inquire if you would like to call the police or local authorities. The choice to file a police report is entirely the decision of the survivor.

Three important considerations:

  • In some countries local program or medical staff may be legally obligated to notify local legal authorities of a known sexual assault.
  • If you plan to visit a hospital or legal authority, evidence may be collected. To preserve evidence, you are advised not to shower, douche, brush teeth, eat or drink. Do not wash any clothes you were wearing, the sheets or any other material that might contain evidence of the assault.
  • Some countries have laws against sexual intercourse outside of marriage that can even be applied to victims of sexual assault (U.S. Department of State resource can be consulted to determine if such laws are a concern.)

Under federal Title IX requirements and the university’s Sexual Misconduct Policy, any Ohio State faculty or staff member that knows of a sexual assault is required to report the assault to the university’s Clery and Title IX Coordinator. The faculty or staff can offer confidentiality but not complete anonymity. Survivors will receive a notification of assistance and resources from the university’s sexual violence support coordinators in the Office of Student Advocacy. Ohio State is committed to providing support and resources for students who have experienced sexual violence; the survivor, however, is empowered to accept or decline the services. Survivors who are not interested or do not want to seek support services abroad are still eligible to seek support services upon their return to Ohio State, such as making an appointment with a sexual violence support coordinator.