Does Sara’s experience meet the definition of sexual assault? If yes, what type?

A School Counselor’s Dilemma

Imagine that you are a school counselor at a local high school. Sara, a 16-year-old student, presents in your office, tearful and distraught. She tells you about a party that happened over the weekend. The party was at her friend Jessi’s house after the football game. Jessi’s parents were not at home during the party. With no adult supervision, kids were drinking and smoking marijuana. Sara reports that she drank some alcohol but did not do any drugs. She accepted a drink from Michael, who attends the school. Although she had seen Michael at school, she was not friends with him and had no previous contact. According to Sara, she and Michael chatted as she sipped her drink. She remembers laughing and enjoying talking to him. However, she does not remember anything after that encounter. She woke up in a bedroom, half dressed, and feeling sore in her private area. She found Jessi and learned that Michael had taken Sara upstairs. Jessi reported Sara was laughing as they went up the stairs and seemed OK, so Jessi did not intervene. Sara returned home and began to finish some homework. As she worked, she began to receive text messages from friends about some social media postings about her. Apparently, Michael was describing their sexual encounter at the party on Facebook, bragging to his friends, providing explicit details, and promising to provide pictures he had taken. On Monday after the party, Sara noticed that people were snickering at her. By the end of the day, she had been called “slut” and “whore” by several classmates who are not her friends. Sara is devastated and not sure what she should do. She begs you not to tell anyone. Her father is a local police officer, and she is concerned about what he would do if he learned Michael had assaulted her.

Discussion Questions

1. Does Sara’s experience meet the definition of sexual assault? If yes, what type?

2. What are some of the additional problems Sara might develop due to her ­traumatic encounter?

3. Keeping these circumstances in mind, how would you proceed?

4. What are the legal and ethical guidelines for you? For the school?

5. With a peer, role-play implementation of the task model for crisis assessment and intervention featured in Chapter 1.

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