What to do when a student comes to you for help, or makes you aware they are being impacted by an experience of sexual assault, relationship violence, sexual harassment, or stalking?
It’s not always easy to know what to say when someone tells you they’ve been sexually assaulted.
A student may disclose to you that they are a victim of sexual assault directly, or they may disclose this information in an assignment. It is important for you to talk to the student about your role as a Responsible Employee, and let them know that although you are required to report the information, the student is not required to take any action.
A student who is sexually assaulted requires some special consideration. This kind of trauma can have an impact on victims in various ways, including: difficulty concentrating, emotional flashbacks, feelings of powerlessness or lack of control, bouts of sadness, difficulty sleeping or having nightmares, as well as requiring time away from academics due to judicial or criminal processes. Faculty and Staff can help support victims of sexual assault by being sensitive to their situation, and working with the student to discuss academic considerations to help them successfully complete the course through planning.
Other ways of showing support:
Listen and support: Thank the student for sharing their experience and let them know you can imagine how difficult the experience may have been. Listen with compassion and communicate without judgement. Rather than asking a lot of questions, let your student know that you believe them and will support them as best as you can.
Know the resources and offer options: It is important to let the student decide what options they are most comfortable with. Sometimes victims of sexual assault or violence do not want to file a report or request any process, and it is important to know this is okay! You can help your student explore their options by familiarizing yourself with on and off campus resources, and talking through what option feels best for them. A list of resources are included below to help you understand some options for your student:
- Confidential Resources: These are places you or your student can ask questions and consult with staff confidentially; no information will be shared with the University unless you give your permission:
- Sexual and Relationship Violence Response Team through Counseling at Barnes Center at The Arch, 315.443.8000
- Hendricks Chapel Chaplains, 315.443.2901
- Vera House, 315.425.0818; Vera House website
- Support Resources: These are places you or your student can ask questions and consult with staff about reporting options and other supportive measures such as academic support, relocation, No Contact Orders; etc. Staff in these offices are Responsible Employees and are required to share information with the University:
- Dean of Students Office, 315.443.4357; email@example.com
- Title IX Office 315.443.4018; firstname.lastname@example.org
Be present: If your student is interested in seeking support, offer to accompany the student if you are comfortable. Your presence can offer the support they need when talking to various resources or if they want to report.
Take care of yourself: It can be difficult to hear details of a student’s experience. It is important that while you are providing support to your student, you are also taking care of your own physical and mental health.
Get help: We understand that every professor has varying levels of comfort when having these conversations with students. It is very helpful and meaningful for you to express your concern for the student, but is important to recognize your limitations.
If it seems your student is in need of more help and support than you are able to provide, reach out for help from professional supports on campus. You can consult with a variety of offices to ensure you are taking the appropriate steps and that your student is getting connected to important support resources. These offices include:
- Title IX Office – 315.443.4018
- Dean of Students Office – 315.443.4357
- Counseling, Barnes Center at The Arch – 315.443.8000.
If you are worried your student is in immediate danger to themselves or others, please call for help! You can contact the Crisis Line through Barnes Center, Counseling 24/7 at 315.443.8000 or the Department of Public Safety 24/7 at 315.443.2224.
When in doubt, call the Title IX Coordinator’s Office at 315.443.4018 to consult whenever a student discloses they were a victim of sexual assault or harassment.