IF YOU HAVE EXPERIENCED MISCONDUCT it is important to remember that you have many resources to support you. Here are options to help you meet your safety and emotional needs, obtain medical attention and pursue formal complaints at your home institution, the Tufts-Skidmore Spain program and/or legal action off-campus.
It’s hard to know what to do, how to feel, or what your options are after a sexual assault. Please know that you’re not alone. Below are some things to keep in mind. If you are in immediate danger or seriously injured, call 112.
– Your safety is important. Are you in a safe place? If you’re not feeling safe, consider reaching out to someone you trust for support. You don’t have to go through this alone.
– Although it may be difficult, do not shower, bathe, douche, or wash your clothes worn during the offense. If you have changed your clothes, place them in a paper bag. (plastic bags can destroy evidence).
– Seek medical attention as soon as possible. Even if you feel okay, you should still seek medical attention to ensure there are no hidden injuries and/or receive emergency contraception or STI treatment (if needed)
– What happened was not your fault. Something happened to you that you didn’t want to happen—and that’s not OK.
All emergencies in Spain: Call 112 (no area code needed).
The responder will speak a number of languages, and it is also possible to fax or SMS the emergency number in case of disabilities. You can also visit the Urgencias (emergency) department of any hospital. You can always reach 112, even on a cell phone without a Spanish SIM card.
Due its prevalence, all women who participate on the program can reasonably expect to confront some form of sexism in Spain. Women of Color (mujeres racializadas) may experience this along the intersection of race and gender. In Spain men engage in “catcalling” young women on the street on a regular basis (these catcalls are euphemistically called “piropos”, but we call it by its real names: micro-aggressions or street harrassment). Sadly, Spain is the European leader in street harassment of women, especially young women (Source: El País, 20 Nov 2018).
Some Spanish men may pursue female attention relentlessly on the street or in nightclubs, and many of our women students are subject to this type of micro-aggressive behavior on a frequent basis. The program recognizes the stress that catcalling creates, and the particularly racist nature of it when directed at Women of Color, and we strive to support you while you’re here. We talk about these dynamics in Orientation, in the Perspectives seminar, in IFG meetings, and we train staff and peer mentors to give you thoughtful support and feedback on how to respond effectively and to practice self-care in the face of these restrictions.
Being touched, followed, or emotionally or physically coerced into an unpleasant situation is not culturally acceptable, ANYWHERE! Women should be aware that in Spain there is no cultural norm that dictates that women have to smile and be nice to men who are harassing them or even simply seeking their attention. If a man intrudes upon your space in an unwelcome way, tell him, without a smile, that you want him to go away, or ignore him completely. Be firm! Spanish women are notoriously cold to unfamiliar men who try to talk to them, and you can and should be too. In Spain, American women in general tend to be stereotyped as sexually available–in a society where immediate sexual availability is not the norm–so you should be aware of this perception and prepared to engage it. If you want a man to stop paying attention to you, do NOT smile, do NOT act nice, IGNORE him completely, and if he persists tell him in a firm voice: “DÉJAME EN PAZ!”
***ANY INCIDENT MUST BE REPORTED IMMEDIATELY TO THE DIRECTOR ***
Generally, Spain has a much lower per-capita crime rate than in the United States, including sexual violence against women (the reported rapes in the US are much higher than those in Spain, for example, as are those of many other European countries. However, sexual violence happens here, and American students have sometimes fallen victim to sexual violence in Spain.
Women (and men, although the cases of sexual violence against men are very rare) should be cautious and take the same precautions that they would take in the States. As in the States, in cases of sexual violence the woman usually knows her aggressor. However, anonymous rapes and aggressions also occur in Madrid, so we recommend that you avoid walking alone on a deserted street late at night and that you follow general safety precautions (taking a cab home late at night; asking the driver to wait until you are in your building). We will cover safety practices during orientation and beyond.
Sexual misconduct includes engaging in any of the following behaviors:
Sexual harassment: any unwelcome sexual advance or request for sexual favors: flirtation, touching, advances, propositions, verbal abuse of a sexual nature, pressure to engage in sexual activity, graphic or suggestive comments about someone’s appearance, use of sexually degrading words, display of sexually suggestive objects or photos, sexual jokes, stereotypic comments based upon gender…
Sexual assault: sexual act directed against another person without their consent or when that person is not capable of giving that consent.
Sexual exploitation: non-consensual or abusive sexual advantage of another person: prostitution, non-consensual visual activity (videos, photos) and non-consensual distribution of videos or photos, exposing one’s genitals in non-consensial circumstances, pornography.
What is street harassment?
Whistles, catcalls, winking, honks, shouted obscenities,leering, groping, curses, threats… street harassment is often accepted as normal male behavior, or even as a compliment,but it’s not!
– It dehumanizes women and reduces them to sexual parts.
– Even remarks that may sound complimentary serve to remind women of their inferior status to men and that they can be subject to evaluation and scrutiny.
– These actions make women feel threatened and unsafe. It creates an environment of sexual terrorism in which women fear male violence and rape.
You should know…
Women provoke men to make comments because of the way they dress.
Street harassment happens to all women, even in countries where women dress conservatively.
– You are not to blame. The harasser is the only responsible person
You have the right to…
– receive medical, psychological, social and legal help
– report to the police
How to respond:
– Be confident, calm and serious. Look at the harasser in the eyes and use strong body language.
– Another strategy could be to simply ignore the harasser. Whatever makes you feel safer!
– Do not apologize, swear or lose your temper.
– Things to say:
Something specific: “No me silbes, me estás acosando”
Identify the perpetrator: “Oye, señor con camisa roja, no me toques”
Attack the behavior, not the person: “Estás arrimándote demasiado a mí”
– If the harasser is in a car, write down his license plate or take out your cell phone to take a picture. Both will probably scare him into stopping.
What else is there to do?
– Download a security app such as the Police app (iOS) (Android), Companion (iOS) and bsafe (iOS) (Android).
– Talk to the Tufts-Skidmore Spain staff!
– Ask your host family for the safe areas in your neighborhood.
– Ask female mentors where to go and where not to go.
Women of Color are targeted by the intersection of racism/sexism in particular ways. In fact, most of the racism reported by women on our program occurs within the context of sexism. Asian women, regardless of their ethnic origin or background, may be sexually exotified and stereotyped as “chinas,” and Black women and dark-skinned Latinas are more likely than white women to be mistakenly solicited by men as sex workers. Male micro-aggressive behavior can be even more aggressive when directed at Women of Color, whom they may consider to be more sexually available.
Although our experience has been that Women of Color have a very positive experience in Spain, as a Woman of Color, you can reasonably expect to experience racist sexism while in Spain. While we cannot eradicate the racist/sexist actions of the men who perpetrate these aggressions, the program can and does provide: validation for your experiences, guidance on self-care, education for all students around racial/gender justice, bystander training, a dedicated safe space for POC, and effective attention and counsel to help and support you.
Do not hesitate to call the program’s emergency phone: 684 03 20 60.
Other phone numbers you should always carry with you:
- Susan Sánchez, program director: 690 625 612
- Mayte de las Heras, assistant director: 680 140 966
- Miguel Ángel Lera, student care coordinator: 622 867 457
If you have been a victim of a violent or sexual crime, you will need to file a criminal report (poner una denuncia) in person at the police station as opposed to via telephone or online.
You can report a crime at any police station (comisaría de policía). For a full list see click here.
Do so by filling out this form.
Tufts-Skidmore Spain recognizes and understands that some individuals may want their identity to remain anonymous. In all cases, issues of privacy must be balanced against the program’s need to thoroughly investigate and to take appropriatte action.
THIS IS NOT A 112 OR EMERGENCY SERVICE
CONTACT THE POLICE (112) IF YOU NEED IMMEDIATE RESPONSE
THE PROGRAM’S EMERGENCY NUMBER IS 684 03 20 60
- Counseling. Program-approved counselors
- No es no. Ayuntamiento de Madrid
- Pathways to Safety. A resource for Americans abroad who have been victims of sexual abuse, rape or aggression
- Sinews. Multilingual therapy institute
- Spanish universities harassment map. Pikara Magazine’s map of all Spanish public universities and their sexual harassment protocols.
- Street harassment map. Plan International’s Madrid map