OHSU is committed to freedom from gender discrimination
OHSU is committed to creating and sustaining a respectful environment for all OHSU community members.
It is vital to OHSU’s mission that its community be free of discrimination on the basis of sex, which includes sexual harassment, sexual assault, and gender discrimination. Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, and certain federal and state laws, prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex in employment, OHSU education programs, and OHSU-operated activities (both on and off campus).
This page offers information about Title IX and sexual misconduct, which can include dating or intimate partner violence. See links below to:
- Learn about Title IX and about specific types of sexual misconduct.
- Evaluate your relationship's power and control dynamics.
- Know the laws and understand your rights.
- Create a safety plan.
- Learn about protection orders (also called restraining orders).
You may learn more about reporting sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, or gender discrimination, or request assistance in making a report, by contacting the Confidential Advocacy Program.
Equal access to education and employment
Title IX says that all students, employees and faculty have an equal right to education and employment at OHSU regardless of their gender. Title IX applies to all OHSU community members—including faculty, staff, students, volunteers, visitors, guests and patients. Title IX prohibits gender discrimination and sexual misconduct, including:
- Sexual violence or partner/relationship violence
- Sexual harassment
- Sexual exploitation (examples include revenge porn, sharing of personal, nude images without consent, voyeurism)
- Stalking or bullying (physical and media/electronic)
- Different standards or outcomes based on gender (discrimination)
- Different treatment based on pregnancy or parenting status
As an OHSU community member, we encourage you to report any form of sexual misconduct or gender discrimination, whether the behavior’s target is you or another OHSU community member. We offer many options for the responding to the misconduct. The option you prefer may depend on what happened, how you were affected, whether you want the situation to remain confidential, and whether you prefer an informal resolution or formal complaint.
Many people are not sure, or may question, whether an experience they had is sexual misconduct. These questions are normal. There are different types of sexual misconduct. Below are terms and definitions commonly associated with sexual misconduct.
Generally, consent refers to agreeing to do something. Legally, there are different types of consent, but the common thread is agreement and choice. Consent is a knowing, voluntary, and mutual decision among all participants to engage in sexual activity. Consent can be given by words or actions, as long as those words or actions create clear permission regarding willingness to engage in the sexual activity. Silence or lack of resistance, in and of itself, does not demonstrate consent. The definition of consent does not vary based upon a participant's sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. (Policy 03-05-048, Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation)
Sexual harassment refers to unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature in the workplace or learning environment.
Sexual harassment does not have to involve behavior of a strictly sexual nature. If someone constantly makes offensive comments about women in general, that is an example of sexual harassment. The same goes for offensive comments about any other gender.
Teasing and offhand comments are not usually covered under sexual harassment laws but they can have lasting emotional effects.
Harassers can be of any gender. They can be supervisors, colleagues, peers, or even patients.
Harassment can escalate to the point of creating a hostile work environment. You may feel extremely uncomfortable, and you may feel a sense of dread at the thought of being in close proximity to the harasser.
You may be unsure about what to do. You may not want to speak up about it out of fear that it will negatively affect your chances for advancement or, even worse, cause you to be cut from your program. These are all understandable concerns since many harassers tend to hold positions of influence.
Examples of sexual harassment:
Frequent jokes or comments about sexual acts or sexual orientation
Requests for sexual favors
Making advancement opportunities dependent on sexual favors
Unwelcome sexual advances. This can be stated or implied
Unwanted physical contact or touching
Unwanted texts, photos or emails that are sexually explicit
Talking about sexual acts/fantasies/stories at school/work
Sexual assault refers to sexual behavior or contact that occurs without consent. The term sexual assault is often used interchangeably with rape. However, while rape is a form of sexual assault, not all sexual assault is rape. Examples of sexual assault are:
Fondling or unwanted sexual touching
Forcing someone to perform sexual acts, such as oral sex
Rape (non-consensual penetration of the victim/survivor’s body)
Domestic violence is a pattern of behaviors used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship. This includes people who are married, living together or dating. Domestic abuse may also occur between family members. It can happen to anyone, regardless of race, gender, age, religion or sexual orientation. This type of abuse may be physical, emotional, verbal, economic/financial or spiritual. The abusive partner/person may do things to physically harm the other partner/person, to arouse fear, to prevent them from doing what they would like or force him/her to do things that he/she does not want to do. It is also called intimate partner violence, domestic abuse or relationship abuse. Examples of domestic abuse/violence are:
Punching, strangling, shoving, or physically harming you in any way
Threatening to harm or kill you or him/herself
Twisting your words to mean something that you never intended
Blaming you or others for the abusive behavior
Forbidding you to work or attend school
Jeopardizing your employment by stalking or you at work
Controlling all of the money in the relationship/household, and denying you access to it
Insulting or name-calling
Dating violence is a pattern of abusive and controlling behavior in a romantic relationship. The abuse can be verbal, emotional, physical, sexual, or any combination of these elements. As with the other kinds of sexual misconduct, it can happen to anyone, and the person being abused is not to blame. The abusive partner tries to control the other partner in many ways. These include:
Insisting on being with you all the time
Calling or texting you constantly to know where you are and who you’re with
Calling you names or putting you down
Not letting you spend time with your friends, or demanding that you cut off contact with your friends
Telling you what to wear
Threatening to hurt you, someone you care about or him/herself if you don’t do what they tell you to
Shoving, hitting or kicking you, or causing you other physical harm
Forcing you to have sex or perform other sexual acts
Stalking can be described as a pattern of obsessive behaviors directed towards a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear. Stalking can escalate over time. Typically, stalkers may:
Send unwanted cards, gifts, letters, texts or emails
Follow you and tend to show up wherever you are
Damage your property
Use technology such as GPS to track your movements
Drive by or hang out at your school, workplace or home
Threaten to hurt you, your family, friends or pets
Do or say anything else to try to control, track or frighten you
It is important to note that this type of behavior does not result from the stalker being encouraged in any way. The person who is being stalked is not to blame.
Trauma refers to a psychological and emotional effect of an experience or event that is deeply distressing or disturbing. No one knows how they will react in any given situation, and people can have very different reactions to the same experience. We all process events and experiences differently.
Experiences with sexual misconduct can certainly be traumatic. Trauma can manifest in several ways:
Intense feelings of guilt—as if you feel that it was somehow your fault
Unpredictable or unstable emotions
Feelings of despair and isolation
Quid pro quo ("this for that") harassment occurs when employment or academic decisions or expectations (hiring, promotions, salary increases, shift or work assignments, performance standards, grades, access to recommendations, assistance with school work, etc.) are based on an employee or student's submission to or rejection of sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other behavior of a sexual nature. Examples may include: demanding sexual favors in exchange for a promotion or grade or disciplining an employee who refuses sexual advances.
A work or learning environment is "hostile" when unwelcome verbal, non-verbal, or physical behavior of a prohibited nature is severe or pervasive enough to unreasonably interfere with an employee's work or a student's learning, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment. An employer, teacher, co-worker, vendor, or fellow student can create a hostile environment. A single incident or a few incidents may not necessarily rise to the level of prohibited harassment; however, a single extreme incident could constitute prohibited discrimination or harassment. Each matter needs to be evaluated individually. Examples may include: jokes or insults, unwelcome flirting, pornography, unwelcome hugging and/or kissing, or repeated invitations for dates.
A third person offended by harassing behavior among willing participants may, if sufficiently severe or pervasive circumstances exist, be a victim of prohibited harassment.
Power and control and relationship assessment
People can experience sexual misconduct at work, in the classroom, at home, and/or in the community. Sexual misconduct is an umbrella term that includes intimate-partner violence, sexual assault, sexual harassment, and/or stalking.
In a relationship, it may be difficult to recognize that there is abuse – abuse often feels confusing, frightening, and overwhelming. Learning about the behavioral patterns of abuse can help you make informed decisions about your own situation.
Some people find the Power and Control Wheel helpful for understanding the different tactics that abusive people may use to gain and maintain control. For people in LGBTQ+ relationships, this Power and Control Wheel may better apply, as it discusses how abusive people may use homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia to abuse and isolate and control the other person.
The Power and Control Wheel paints a clear picture of the tactics that abusers use to get and maintain power and control in a relationship. However, these may be hard to recognize when the person who is abusive is not an intimate partner, such as an employee you work with, a professor, or a fellow student.
This is seen as the most forceful tactic that abusers use. The abuser may hit, punch, kick or inflict other kinds of physical harm on the other person. The abusive person may also force the other person to have sex or to perform sexual acts in order to assert their power and to instill fear. In a work setting, this might look like unwanted touching, with little to no regard for the other person’s physical comfort.
With intimidation, the abusive person is exerting power and control with the threat that physical or sexual violence is near. The thought of what the abuser could do is enough to get the other person to be submissive. It could be a look, the slamming of a door, or anything that scares the other person. In a classroom setting, it could be a professor threatening to fail a student if they do not do what they want.
The abusive person constantly puts the other down. The other person is made to feel as if nothing they do is good enough and eventually may come to believe that they are inferior and cannot make it on their own. The abusive person may insult, name-call, and degrade the other person. Emotional abuse is often hard to recognize, especially since the abusive person may minimize what they are doing.
The abusive person wants power and believes that they have a right and are entitled to it. To increase their need for control, the abusive person may try to isolate the other person from their friends and family. The abusive person may monitor who the other person is talking to, their social media, and may use tactics to stop the person from spending time with friends, family, or may even hide their keys to prevent them from going to work.
The abusive person will often gaslight the other. Gaslighting is a term that is used to describe a manipulation tactic that causes the other person to question their own reality. The abusive person may say, “That never happened!” or “You made me hit you.” The abusive person is attempting to make the other feel to blame for the abusive behavior.
If there are children involved, an abusive person may use children to gain power and control over the other person. The abusive person may threaten to make sure that the other person may never see their children again or threaten to have the children taken away if they don’t give them what they want.
Other abusive tactics may include financial/economic abuse, using male privilege, and using coercion and threats. For more information, view the National Domestic Violence website.
Know the law
When it comes to sexual misconduct at academic institutions, it can be helpful to know about the major laws that apply.
Title IX is a federal law that was passed as part of the Education Amendments of 1972. Title IX states:
“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
This law applies to any institution that receives Federal financial assistance from the Department of Education. These institutions must operate in a non-discriminatory manner, and may not retaliate against anyone for opposing an unlawful educational practice or policy. They may also not retaliate against anyone for making charges, testifying or participating in any complaint action under Title IX. Sexual harassment and sexual violence are prohibited under Title IX.
- Title IX, U.S. Department of Education
- Questions and Answers on Title IX and Sexual Violence, U. S. Dept. of Education, Office for Civil Rights (April 2014)
- Not Alone: The First Report of the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault (April 2014)
- "Dear Colleague" letter, U. S. Dept. of Education, Office for Civil Rights (April 2011)
- Supporting the Academic Success of Pregnant and Parenting Students Under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, U. S. Dept. of Education, Office for Civil Rights (June 2013)
The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act is better known as the Clery Act. This is a federal law that requires colleges and universities in the US to disclose information about crime on and around their campuses. By October 1st each year, institutions must publish their annual security report and distribute it to current and prospective students and employees. The report must provide crime statistics for the previous three years, descriptions of campus crime prevention programs, policy statements on safety and security measures, and information on procedures to be followed in the investigation and prosecution of alleged sex offenses. Visit the Clery Center site.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a federal law that prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, and religion. It generally applies to employers with 15 or more employees. Under this law, employers cannot make employment-related decisions such as recruitment, advertising and promotions on a person’s race, color, sex, national origin or religion. The law was amended in 1978 to include pregnancy. Read more about Title VII.
You have rights
As a survivor of sexual misconduct, it is important to know that you do have rights. These rights were established under certain laws and may be grouped under different categories. Also, victims’ rights may vary from state to state. Knowing these rights can help you to make informed decisions. Read on to learn more about these rights.
The Campus Sexual Assault Victims’ Bill of Rights states that:
- Both the accuser and the accused must have the same opportunity to have others present during investigation processes.
- The Confidential Advocacy Program can accompany you to any proceedings and provide you with support and advocacy.
- Both parties must be informed of the outcome of any disciplinary proceeding.
- Survivors shall be informed of counseling services.
- Survivors shall be informed of their options to notify law enforcement.
- You can report to OHSU Public Safety by calling
- 503-494-4444 (emergencies)
- 503-494-7744 (non-emergencies)
- You can report to OHSU Public Safety by calling
- Survivors shall be informed of options for changing academic and living situations.
- There are many resources and support services that the Confidential Advocacy Program can help provide to you if you have safety concerns or are struggling academically.
The Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS) make provisions for employees who are directly affected by or have a minor child or dependent who is directly affected by domestic violence, harassment, sexual assault or stalking. You are entitled to paid leave under the following circumstances:
- To get medical treatment or recover from injury caused by domestic violence, sexual assault, harassment or stalking.
- To get legal help or assistance from law enforcement for your own safety or that of your minor child or dependent.
- To get or to help your minor child or dependent to get counseling from a licensed mental health professional for experiences with domestic violence, sexual assault, harassment or stalking.
- To get services from a victim services provider for yourself or for your minor child or dependent. Feel free to contact Confidential Advocacy Program for these services.
- To relocate or to make your current residence more secure for your own safety or that of your minor child or dependent.
You should give your employer advance notice and contact the Standard to notify them of your intention to take leave, except in cases where advance notice is not possible.
The Standard may ask you to provide certification of you or your minor child’s/dependent’s status as a victim/survivor of domestic violence, sexual assault, harassment or stalking, and that the leave you are taking is for one of the purposes mentioned above. Types of certification that you can provide are police reports, protective orders or any official documentation from a professional related to your case, including your Confidential Advocacy Program advocate.
All records and information kept by your employer regarding your case are confidential and will not be released without your consent, unless required by law.
Most states follow the federal Crime Victims’ Rights Act (CVRA). Some important rights to be aware of if your case goes to court:
- The right to be treated fairly, and with respect for your dignity and privacy.
- The right to be reasonably protected from the accused. This does not sanction police protection. Instead, it refers to having separate waiting areas or separate times to appear in court.
- The right to meet with the attorney for the government (the prosecutor) about your case.
- The right to reasonable, accurate, and timely notice of any public court proceeding, or any parole proceeding involving the crime, or of any release or escape of the accused.
- The right to be informed of the status of the defendant in the criminal justice system, including conviction and sentencing; the criminal history of the defendant; imprisonment of the defendant; and the defendant’s future release from physical custody.*
- The right not to be excluded from any public court or parole proceeding, unless the court determines that hearing other witness testimony might alter your perception of what happened. In this case, you could be sequestered until after you give your testimony.
- The right (if you are 15 years or older) to be accompanied by a personal representative to phases of the investigation and prosecution of the crime, except for grand jury proceedings and certain child abuse assessments.*
- The right to have phone numbers and addresses withheld from the defendant unless good cause is otherwise shown. As a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking, you can have a substitute address designated if disclosing your real address could cause harm to you or your child(ren).*
- The right to be reasonably heard at any public proceeding in the district court involving the plea, sentencing, release or parole of the defendant. You can speak in court prior to the judge’s ruling or you can prepare a victim impact statement.
- The right to have a copy of any transcript, audio tape or video tape of any court proceeding in open court.*
- The right to compensation for qualifying assessments. Victims of sexual assault can have the cost of sexual assault examinations compensated.*
- The right to have any defendants, in cases where there was transmission of bodily fluids, tested for HIV. If the test is positive, the victim has the right to be provided with counseling and referral to appropriate healthcare, testing, and support services.*
- The right to a trial that is reasonably free from delays.
- The right to full and timely restitution under the law.
*Rights under Oregon state law.
Privacy, confidentiality, and privilege
It is often difficult for persons who have experienced sexual misconduct to speak about their experience(s). There are often feelings of fear, and not knowing who to trust. You may be concerned about what will happen if you tell someone. Confidential Advocacy Program advocates understand these concerns. When you call or come in to speak with an advocate, you will be treated with respect. That includes respect for your privacy. The words privacy, confidentiality, and privilege are often used interchangeably but it is best to be aware of their individual meanings and how they relate to you and your experience.
When we talk about privacy, we are talking about your right to choose when, how, and with whom your personal information is shared. You choose what and how much information you share with your advocate. There is no pressure. There is no judgement.
A good way to explain confidentiality is to refer to the relationship between a doctor and his/her patient. A doctor will not reveal a patient’s information unless the patient gives consent.
This is a great way to describe the relationship between you and your advocate when it comes to your personal information. Confidential Advocacy Program advocates recognize and understand the sensitive nature of experiences with sexual misconduct, and will do everything in their power to protect the information that you choose to share with them. The only exceptions to confidentiality are:
Advocates are required by law to report to Oregon State Department of Human Services and/or law enforcement any real or suspected child neglect or abuse (physical or sexual) disclosed to staff, when there is enough information to make a report.
Advocates may inform the appropriate person(s) or authorities if a client is in imminent danger of doing harm to self or others.
If you have any additional questions about confidentiality, our advocates are here to help.
Many of us have heard the term attorney/client privilege. When it comes to advocates, privilege works the same way. Privilege means that a court cannot force an advocate or the survivor/client to disclose information shared between the advocate and survivor/client. It also means that neither the advocate nor survivor/client can be punished for refusing to disclose the information. The survivor/client holds the privilege, and is the one who decides whether he/she wants the information to be shared.
Whether you have had a single or ongoing experience with sexual misconduct, or whether you are in a relationship with a partner who makes you feel unsafe, safety planning is extremely helpful and important. As our brains do not tend to function as normal in times of crisis, having a structured plan thought out ahead of time can help you to protect yourself.
Safety plans should be tailored to fit the circumstances of your situation. If you are in an unsafe/abusive relationship, your plan may be more detailed due to the constant proximity of your partner and the higher probability of threats or danger. If they have easier access to your personal information you will want to be careful and strategic with your plan.
Trust your instincts. Don’t downplay the danger. If you feel you are unsafe, you probably are.
Take threats seriously. Danger generally is higher when you try to leave or end the relationship.
Contact Confidential Advocacy Program, or your local community-based advocacy center if you would like help devising a safety plan, or to find out information about getting a protective order or other safety options.
Tell someone you can trust about what is happening. This person may be someone who can help provide you with support during this time or help to implement your safety plan with you. It could be a friend, Confidential Advocacy Program advocate, counselor at the Student Health and Wellness Center, fellow student, resident, faculty member*, dean*, or another trusted person.
*OHSU Faculty and Deans are Responsible Employees and must report disclosures of discrimination, harassment, and violence to AAEO. In contrast, CAP, the Student Health and Wellness Center Behavioral Health team and all learners at OHSU are not designated Responsible Employees and do not have to report these disclosures to AAEO.
Keep these trusted people’s phone numbers or contact information readily available (particularly if your phone is being monitored or you may be at risk of losing it).
Consider telling your neighbors or on-site building manager about the situation, providing them with a photo or description of the individual and any cars they may drive if known. Ask your neighbors to call the police if they see this person, or devise a signal to use to communicate with them that you need help or to call the police.
Have a code word for family and friends to signal danger. Children should know this code word as well.
Let someone know where you are going, with whom, and when you expect to be back. You may also like to download the app Circle of 6, which allows you to get help from your circle of safe people.
If possible, avoid areas where you might run into the person who harmed or is harming you.
If possible, go to a safe place (friend/family member’s house, shelter, etc.)
If it is not possible to go to a safe place outside of where the person who is harming you is, try to go to a room with an emergency exit such as a backdoor or window. Once you have determined escape routes, teach them to your children, if you have them.
If you have children, arrange for them to be in a safe place. This may or may not be with you.
If the person who harmed you knows your regular routes to and from classes, clinical location, or other frequented places, try to switch them up frequently so that it is harder to track you.
Have a friend accompany you, if possible, or call Public Safety to set up officer escort services for OHSU locations.
Try to stick to public areas (cafeteria, library, etc.) whenever possible. If you experience harassment, stalking, or violence in a public area, you can try to ask for help from those around you.
Try to always travel with your cellphone fully charged, as well as with the charger.
Try to always travel with some form of identification.
Try to always travel with spare cash.
Keep a bag with essential items packed in a secure location in case you have to make a hasty exit. This bag should include: important identifying documents, spare cash, some items of clothing, spare cellphone/charger, and essential toiletries.
Document the abuse.
If the person who harmed you has access to your bank accounts try to save money, and open a separate bank account that only you have the password for.
Change usernames and passwords of your online or other accounts. Don’t log into them on any device that you think is being tracked or monitored.
Disable Bluetooth and GPS on your phone if you think you are being or will be tracked.
Consider getting a new phone if you think your current one is being tracked or has malware on it.
Refrain from posting anything that may help someone figure out your location or places you frequent on social media. Ask your friends to not tag you or post photos of you. Review your privacy settings on your online accounts, or consider deactivating them.
Consider your emotional safety as well. Try utilizing different grounding techniques until you find one or two that work well for you. Keep a reminder with you of how to complete your grounding techniques so that you can use them whenever you need.
A restraining order or protective order is an order issued by a court to protect an individual, and the general public, in a situation involving alleged domestic violence, harassment, stalking, or sexual assault. In Oregon, there are numerous laws that protect survivors of domestic violence. The Family Abuse Prevention Act (FAPA) provides protection orders for survivors of domestic violence.
Is it necessary to prove abuse by the respondent to get a FAPA protection order?
Is it necessary to prove abuse by the respondent to get a FAPA protection order?
Can anyone get a FAPA protection order?
- No. A person can only seek a FAPA protection order against a family or household members.
- “Family or household members” are considered:
- Spouses/Domestic Partners
- Former spouses/Domestic Partners
- Adult persons related by blood, marriage or adoption
- Persons who are cohabiting or who have cohabited with each other
- Persons who have been involved in a sexually intimate relationship with each other within two years immediately preceding the filing of a domestic violence report
- Unmarried parents of a child
Restraining orders are designed to protect those in imminent danger of further abuse by an abuser, including:
- Menacing, intimidating, interfering with, or molesting or attempting to do any of these things to the victim and/or any children in the victim’s custody
- Contacting or attempting to contact the victim
- Remaining in a residence in the victim’s name, even if it is jointly in the names of the victim and the abuser
- Removing personal items from a residence without the presence of a police officer
Stalking protective orders may be available even when restraining orders (FAPA orders) are not. Stalking in Oregon occurs when a person “knowingly alarms or coerces another person or a member of that person’s immediate family or household by engaging in repeated and unwanted contact with the other person.”
To qualify as stalking, your situation must meet both of these requirements:
- A reasonable person in the victim’s situation would have been alarmed or coerced by the contact.
- The contact causes “reasonable apprehension” about the safety of the victim or member of the victim’s immediate family or household.
What qualifies as “contact”?
- Visual or physical presence
- Waiting outside the home, property, place of work or school of the other person or of a member of that person’s family or household
- Communicating directly with the other person or through another person via mail, e‐mail, telephone, or any other form of communication
- Communicating with a third person who has a personal or business relationship with the other person for the purpose of affecting their relationship
- Causing damage to the other person’s home, property, place of work or school
Non-threatening, non‐physical confrontation may be constitutionally protected and can make getting a stalking order problematic. The stalking protective order will specifically say what the stalker is prohibited from doing. Stalking orders do not have specific end dates and judges have the authority to make them permanent. You can get a stalking order even if you already have a restraining order against the stalker. There is no fee for filing a stalking protective order.