Responding to Victims/Survivors of Sexual Violence, Relationship Violence, or Stalking
Victims/survivors will disclose to people with whom they feel safe. This includes people they know and trust. It also includes people perceived to be knowledgeable and open to talking about these issues.
Safety first --- the first thing to do is assure that the student is not in danger, physically or psychologically.
Confidentiality --- the student needs to know up front the limits to which you can keep this information confidential. If the incident being disclosed is in any way related to the college you cannot keep the information confidential. The only places on-campus where students can speak confidentially with staff are: VIVA, The Counseling Center , and Weigel Health Center. Off-campus, students can call Crisis Services, any of the hotlines listed on the Resources page; talk with clergy, family, or friends. There are also many community agencies that offer confidential support services.
- Talk in a private place if possible
- Give the student your full attention
- Listen without judgement
- Don't interrupt, only speak when s/he has finished
- Express concern
Listen for Lethality --- suicide threats, revealing a desire to die, hopelessness
- Tell the student that is is not her/his fault
- Support his/her choices
- Ask how you can help
- Asking for details
- Encouraging any type of violence
- Evaluating, interpreting or analyzing
- Criticizing or blaming
- Advising or offering solutions --- "you should ..."
- Minimizing the situation
- Sending an e-mail, text, or leaving a voice mail message about the abuse or harassment
- Slipping information into her.his purse, pocket, backpack, etc.
- Confronting the abuser or harasser
Referrals --- you are not therapist or counselor and it is likely that the student will need more support and assistance than you can give him/her. The best referral is one that the student will respond to, however, starting with on-campus referrals assures that the student will get complete information on his/her rights and options, will be linked with appropriate support services, and can get assistance in filing police reports or judicial complaints if s/he wants. On-campus, students can get support, information, and specific off-campus referrals from VIVA, The Counseling Center, and Weigel Health Center. A full listing of on- and off-campus resources is listed on the Resources page.
When referring a student to on-campus support it is best to ask the student if you can call the office and then walk him/her over. VIVA will come to meet with the student at your office if the student would prefer.
Take care of yourself --- get support or debrief with a trusted colleague, VIVA, or consult with someone from The Counseling Center.