How to Help: Faculty/Staff
As a faculty/staff member, your daily interactions with students provide an obvious source for early intervention. Students look up to you as a mentor and trust your guidance. When a student decides to disclose to you, they are letting you know that you are trusted.
Students often exhibit signs of trauma that become very evident to faculty/staff who see them multiple times a week in and out of the classroom. Some signs are:
- Missing class/tests/assignments
- Withdrawal in the classroom (a student who once participated frequently now barely says anything)
- Change in mood, behavior, attitude
You are not expected to take on the role of a counselor, but below you will find some tips for helping a student. You should always notify the student that you are not a confidential resource and you will need to share information with other administrators.
Listen, without judgment. Listening is one of the most important ways you can help a student. If a student comes to you, take the time or schedule a time to speak with the student. Avoid blaming the person for what occurred. Think about what questions you may ask, as some could imply fault. Example: "How much were you drinking?" or "Why didn't you report it sooner?" Instead, say something like "Thank you for coming to me, I am so sorry that this happened to you." Show empathy.
Tell the student that you have heard them and will provide support. Victims of sexual assault, harassment, dating/domestic violence and stalking are often hesitant to come forward and are often met with disbelief. Validate the student's feelings. It is important to remember that you are not an investigator trying to determine if the event happened or who is responsible. Ask questions like "How can I help connect you to resources?" and "What can I do to support you?"
Refer the student to resources. On the Title IX webpage, there are resources both on and off campus, both confidential and non-confidential. Help the student navigate to this page. You are not expected to be an expert on this situation, but it is important that you direct the student to someone who is. Help the student write an email to the deputy Title IX coordinator for students or walk the student to Safety and Security or Counseling Services. As a mandatory reporter, notify the Title IX coordinator to ensure that someone will reach out to the student.
Support the student's decisions. Formally reporting an incident is a personal decision. You can encourage the student to report the incident, but still respect that the final decision is for that student to make. A student may decide to report but not move forward with charges, or a student may decide to only speak to confidential resources. These decisions are part of the student taking power back, and are an important step to support.
Provide academic accommodations. Survivors of sexual violence can experience negative mental and physical health outcomes. Your curriculum is important and should not be compromised, but consider working with a student to give extra time for an assignment or makeup work for any classes missed. It's okay to hold a student accountable for work, however patience is greatly appreciated. Showing patience can make a big difference in a student's healing process.
Follow up with the student. Let the student know that you care and that you will check in. This follow up can be in person, or even an email. If in person, be sure to do this privately (after other students have left the classroom or during office hours). A simple "How are you doing?" can make a big difference.
Support yourself. It can be troublesome and upsetting to receive reports from students, as they have gone through a serious trauma. Be sure to take time to process your own feelings about it, and don’t be afraid to reach out to resources yourself.
How to Help: Friends
When a friend confides in you that they have been a victim of sexual violence or discrimination, you may worry about what to do. You may also feel upset, hurt or feel helpless about the situation. Here are some guidelines for supporting your friend.
Listen and believe your friend. Listen and do not judge, regardless of the circumstances. Do not ask questions like "Did you have too much to drink?" or "Why didn’t you leave?" By listening, supporting your friend's feelings and believing their experience, your friend will feel heard. You may want to ask questions, but try and let your friend describe the experience. This allows your friend to control what to disclose.
Know that each experience is unique. You may have other friends who experienced sexual violence. Try to avoid making comparisons, and understand that your friend's experience is their own.
Assure your friend that it is not their fault. Your friend may feel that they should be blamed for what happened. Assure your friend that no matter what happened, it was not their fault.
Know how your friend can seek resources and offer support. Become familiar with University and off-campus resources. Explore the Title IX webpage to be familiar with resources, and help your friend seek them out. Walk your friend to Counseling Services or sit with your friend while they file a report with Safety and Security.
Give your friend control. It is your friend's decision whether or not to seek resources. This can be difficult because you are trying to help. Ultimately it is your friend's decision, and while you can provide guidance, they need to decide.
Respect privacy. Do not share your friend's experience with other friends or students. It is not your experience to share.
Support yourself. Never hesitate to reach out to trained staff on campus for advice. It is not necessary to give details/names to gain access to support information, and to gain support for yourself.
How to Help: Parents/Family Members
Learning that your student has been involved in an incident of sexual violence or sexual misconduct can be shocking and extremely upsetting. If your student discloses to you, there are steps you can take to help.
Listen, without judgment. Believe your student. Listening is one of the most important ways you can help your student. Avoid blaming your student for what occurred. Think about what questions you may ask, as some could imply fault. Example: "How much were you drinking?" or "Why didn’t you report it sooner?" Let your student decide how much to disclose to you. Offer to support your student in any way.
Help connect your student with resources. Become familiar with University and off-campus resources. Explore the Title IX webpage to be familiar with resources, and offer to help your student seek them out. Do not call resources on your student's behalf - it is important that they have control and make decisions regarding disclosing to others.
If you have questions about your student's University resources, utilize this website or call the Title IX coordinator or deputy Title IX coordinator. Please note that the Title IX coordinators are not confidential resources, and do have to report any incidents that are reported to them. You can collect information without disclosing your student's experience. This website has listed both on and off campus resources.