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University Life

Survivors Seek Out People They Trust Most

The support they receive from their first disclosure is most predictive of their healing process

It can be overwhelming to learn a loved-one or community member is a survivor of interpersonal violence. There are many ways you can be supportive. 

Survivors of sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, stalking or other trauma have experienced a significant loss of control. As helpers, we often want to fix things for our loved ones. It is critical that you allow a survivor to guide what they need and understand that they may not know what that is at the moment.

Not Sure What to Say?

There are many people who can help, including many confidential resources.

Understanding what a survivor may be going through

Healing takes time. After a traumatic event, an individual may experience the following:

  • Difficulty with concentration and focus
  • Feelings of anger, shame, embarrassment, guilt, self-blame
  • Fear of being alone or situations that remind them of their experience
  • Changes in quality of sleep, sleep patterns and experiences of nightmares
  • Changes in appetite and eating behaviors
  • Intrusive memories of the event or constant thoughts of the event
  • Social withdrawal and isolation
  • Difficulty relating to others
  • Changes in appearance
  • Negative coping behaviors with substance use

If a friend displays any of these signs, or other signs of distress, check in, listen, affirm and refer to supportive resources. 

Information for parents and loved ones

It can be difficult to learn your student has been hurt or is hurting. Because they may have experienced feelings of shame or concerns about your reaction, survivors may not disclose to you right away. 

  • You may feel helpless and want to fix things. Try not to control their decision making. 
  • Please do not ask your student for more details than they are willing to share nor questions that may redirect blame. 
  • Reaffirm that what happened to them is not their fault. 
  • Support your child and offer autonomy in decisions regarding follow up care. They experienced a loss of control and need to have ownership over decisions. 
  • They may be seeking options to support their emotional healing rather than options for justice. This is ok. 
  • The bottom of this page contains yellow buttons that link to on-campus and community resources, policies and processes to assist you as you support your student. 
  • Please know, if your student chooses to speak with one of our confidential staff members or seek medical or mental health care on our campus, staff will not be able to speak with you about your student unless permission is granted in writing by your student. They can speak generally to processes and resources but your child's confidentiality will be protected.
  • Navigating care and support for your student can be difficult on caregivers too. You may experience a range of emotions such as anger, guilt, disbelief and helplessness. It may be helpful to get connected with a local support group or resource center. While our local community partners are listed on our resources page, you can also contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline 1.800.656.4673 to be connected with a provider closer to you.
Information for friends and dating partners

Research shows that students often disclose an incidence or experience of sexual assault, dating violence or stalking to their friends first. Believe them and affirm their choices.

Things you can do or say to support your friend.

Offer assistance and refer your friend to community resources.

Know about options for care

It can be stressful when someone you care about has experienced trauma. As a caring person, you are not alone and there are people on campus such as our confidential resources who can listen and support you.  

You may also feel helpless in what you can do following a disclosure. We have several ways student can engage in supporting survivors and creating a healthier campus culture.

Information for faculty and Staff

As community members who interact with students, and managers of employees, faculty and staff must be prepared to respond in a caring way to a disclosure so as to prevent secondary trauma. 

The Office of Diversity & Inclusion coordinates Responding to Disclosure Trainings for faculty and staff. Please contact their department for the upcoming schedule.

It is important that you be aware of your reporting responsibilities. A list of reporting responsibilities under Title IX can be found in Appendix E on the Title IX page

Tips for What to Do/What to Say specific for Faculty and Staff

People You Can Talk To

Reporting Options

Medical/Follow Up Care Options

Part of the Solution