- Be supportive by listening and taking what the student says seriously. Don't press for details. Let the student decide how much to share about the assault and its impact.
- Avoid "why" questions; they can make the survivor feel judged.
- If you have the opportunity, tell the student it's not her/his fault. Most survivors will blame themselves for what happened, particularly if they were drinking at the time or taking any kind of risk. It is important to counter this with strong messages that the assault was the fault and responsibility of the perpetrator and not the survivor.
- Encourage the student to make her/his own decisions about whether or not to report the assault, who to tell, etc. Support those decisions. Taking back control is an important part of a survivor's healing process.
- Offer options. Be clear as to what you can and cannot do. For example, as an advisor, you can help the student adjust her course load, withdraw from school, change her grading options, and offer referrals for other types of support, but you cannot be her counselor.
- Offer resources. Encourage the student to get support. Suggest talking with a counselor on the phone if the student is not ready to come to the Tang Center. Help the student identify people in her/his life who are sources of support that s/he may be comfortable talking to. Help the student look up a 24-hour hotline # to carry.
- Encourage the student to seek medical care if this seems warranted. If the assault is recent, it may be possible to do an evidentiary exam if the student wants to keep the option of legal prosecution open. Either way, follow up medical care may be appropriate.
- Protect the student's privacy. As much as we all need to de-brief when we hear upsetting situations, it is possible to do so without names and details. It is important to let the student decide whom to confide in. If you are a Campus Security Authority and have a reporting responsibility under the Clery law, let the student know this as early in the conversation as possible.
- Encourage students to be wary of drinking or using any mood altering substance after an assault.
*** Get Support for Yourself. You Deserve It. ***
Campus and Community Resources For Sexual Assault.
How You Can Help a Friend Who Has Been Sexually Assaulted/Raped
Sexual Assault/Rape: Alcohol and Other Drugs
Sexual Assault/Rape: Medical, Counseling and Educational Services
Unwanted Sex, Sexual Assault and Rape: Advice and Resources for Men
Disclaimer: The information provided here is not intended to diagnose, treat or provide a second opinion on any health problem or disease. It is meant to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between an individual and his/her clinician.
Last Revised: September 2004