Under WashU’s policy on discrimination and harassment, once a formal complaint against a staff member has been submitted to the assistant vice chancellor for Human Resources, HR will conduct an investigation into the complaint.

For additional information, please see the review process for complaints against staff policy.

Common feelings after being accused of sexual misconduct

Whenever a person is accused of a policy violation, emotional responses will differ from person to person, especially if the policy violation in question is associated with sexual misconduct. Being accused of sexual misconduct can be a traumatic and challenging experience.

It is important to remember that your responses to these accusations are normal reactions to a difficult situation. If you are accused of sexual misconduct, you may deal with some unanticipated emotions. Below are examples of feelings you may experience:

  • Anger: Anger is a common emotion whenever someone has been accused of sexual misconduct. This is an appropriate response; however, the important factor to consider when dealing with anger is how you process through the anger. There are several ways you can vent any anger you are experiencing (browse our resources for professional and nonprofessional counseling options). Internalizing your anger could lead you to become irritable, anxious or even depressed. When dealing with anger, it is important not to resort to unhealthy manners of coping including the consumption of alcohol, the use of drugs, causing harm to yourself or others, or destructive behavior.
  • Fear: Fear can take many forms. You may be experiencing fear of the unknown as the outcome of the investigation can impact your status at the university. You may also fear how those closest to you perceive you along with other members of the university community. Also, it is common to have fear of someone retaliating against you.
  • Impact on Your Daily Life: With all the emotions listed, your daily life may also feel the impact of the sexual misconduct allegation. While participating in an investigation, it may become challenging to pay attention to work and follow through with your responsibilities. Other areas of your life that may be impacted include: sleep routine, change in appetite, increase in anxiety and depression. If you have questions, please contact the Title IX coordinator at 314-935-3118.
  • Feeling Alone: Being accused of sexual misconduct may cause you to feel alone since the allegation is against you. Taking on the burden of the allegation may cause you to withdraw from your support networks because you may feel like it is “your problem.” It is common for individuals who are accused to prefer not to discuss the situation with anyone for fear of embarrassment or how it may be perceived by others. However, talking with a counselor or adviser may offer assistance with processing your experiences and feelings.

All these emotions can be overwhelming and it is important to remember there are resources both on and off campus to assist you.