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How to Help

The initial reactions of responders can play a key role in the victim’s perception of the event and the likelihood that they will stay involved in the university system.

  • Student comforting another studentWhen someone has been sexually assaulted, chances are they will turn to a friend for help. You are an important person to the survivor; this is why the victim/survivor shared this experience with you. Providing a friend with an attentive ear and a supportive shoulder to lean on can make all the difference in the world for someone who has been sexually assaulted. When a person is sexually assaulted, keep in mind that many feel as though their power has been taken away from them. As you are helping, allow your friend to maintain control over what happens next.

    Familiarize Yourself with the Resources

    Provide a Thoughtful Ear

    • Let your friend know that you want to listen, and then do so.
    • Listen attentively and let your friend talk without interruption.
    • Show interest in what they say by sitting close and facing them.

    Give Your Friend Control of the Situation

    • Remember that all control has been stripped from them during the assault.
    • Realize that stalls or silences may occur in the conversation. Let them happen.
    • Allow them to make decisions such as who to tell and what steps to take next.
    • Encourage your friend to seek medical attention or counseling, but it is important that you don’t try to force them to do anything.

    Believe Your Friend Unconditionally

    • Remember that people rarely lie about being sexually assaulted.
    • Reassure your friend that they are not to be blamed. The only person who is responsible in an incident of interpersonal violence is the abuser.
    • Make it clear to your friend that you believe the assault happened and that you support them.

    Provide Your Friend With the Necessary Information

    • Let your friend know that physical evidence must be collected within 72 hours of the assault.
    • Reassure them that they can decide at a later date whether or not they want to press charges.
    • Educate your friend about the confidential counseling and advocacy services available to them:
      local rape crisis agencies, campus counseling centers, and members of the clergy.

    It is important to let your friend know that you believe in the possibility of healing. Although there is no recipe for recovery, you can affirm your friend’s strength and capacity to overcome. Your friend may be experiencing tremendous feelings of guilt and self-doubt. Try to alleviate these feelings by providing a safe, and secure environment for your friend. The road to recovery is long, but not impossible. Overall, it is important to make sure that the victim-survivor feels supported and in control, as much as possible, during their time of need.

  • professor helping studentAs a faculty member, staff member, or student employee, you may be the first point of contact for a victim of sexual assault, stalking, or other form of interpersonal violence. You may also become aware of an incident from a source other than the victim. Please note that Eastern Connecticut State University and its employees are subject to University Regulations and various state and federal reporting laws. In short, it’s important that you report crimes of interpersonal violence to a Sexual Assault and Interpersonal Violence Response Team (SAIV-RT) Member immediately. If you have questions about your role in reporting an incident, please contact the SAIV-RT Coordinator, Starsheemar Byrum.

    Support for Victim-Survivors

    Reporting Sexual Assault
    Determine if the victim requires medical assistance. In emergencies, call 911.
    For sexual assaults occurring within 72 hours of you learning about the incident, you can refer the student to the Sexual Assault Crisis Center of Eastern Connecticut at 860-456-2789. All contact with the Crisis Center is confidential. Contact a member of the Sexual Assault & Interpersonal Violence Response Team.

    Make a Referral
    Provide the victim-survivor with information about options and resources. You may do this by referring to the SAIV-RT website and the on-campus resources.

    What You Can Say to the Victim/Survivor

    • “I am here to listen and support you, but it would also be helpful for you to talk with someone who has specialized knowledge in this area”
    • “There are places that you can go anonymously to get information or support.”
    • “Even if you don’t know what you want to do right now, it can be helpful to talk to someone about your options.”
    • “I would be happy to go with you to talk to someone.”
    • “What would make it feel safe for you to go talk to someone?”

    On Campus Support and Advocacy Options
    Refer the victim to the Coordinator of the SAIV-RT. This victim advocate can explain options relating to reporting, student conduct, resources, and housing accommodations, and can assist them in the decision-making process. The advocate is committed to maintaining the confidentiality of victims to the extent allowed by law.

    The Women’s Center
    Starsheemar Byrum, Director of the Women’s Center, Coordinator of the SAIV-RT
    Location: Student Center, Room 116
    Phone: 860-465-4314

    A small number of university employees have what is called “privilege,” meaning that communications cannot legally be disclosed without the reporter’s consent, except in certain circumstances such as the threat of imminent danger to one’s self or others. At Eastern, examples of privileged communication resources would be through

    • Counseling
    • Health
    • Religious

    Counseling & Psychological Services
    Dr. Anne Patti, Interim Director of Counseling and Psychological Services
    Location: CAPS Building, 192 High Street, Room 110
    Phone: 860-465-4527

  • Mother comforting daughterIf someone you care about is sexually assaulted, stalked, or experiencing other forms of interpersonal violence, you might feel angry, confused, and helpless. Have comfort in knowing that there are several things you can do to help in the healing process that support your loved one’s needs. Providing a family member with an attentive ear and a supportive shoulder to lean on can make all the difference in the world for someone who has been harassed, abused, or assaulted. When a person is sexually assaulted, keep in mind that many victim-survivors feel as though their power has been taken away from them. As you are helping, allow them to maintain control over what happens next.

    Support for Victim-Survivors

    • The SAIV-RT provides guidance to allies and victim-survivor support systems.
    • The SAIV-RT helps victims-survivor make a contact with any of the services for medical support and police response.
    • The SAIV-RT provides assistance with legal procedures.
    • The SAIV-RT connects victim-survivor with a counselor from Counseling and Psychological Services and/or the Sexual Assault Crisis Center of Eastern Connecticut.
    • The SAIV-RT works with the Dean of Students to accommodate academic and employment relief.

    Believe the Victim-Survivor Unconditionally

    • Let them know that you want to listen, and then do so.
    • Listen attentively and let them talk without interruption.
    • Show interest in what they say by sitting close and facing them.
    • Accept what you hear without any judgment.

    Reinforce That the Incident is Not Their Fault

    • Sexual assault is never the survivor’s fault.
    • It is important not to ask “why” questions such as, as this suggests that they are to blame for the assault.

    Understand That You Cannot Control How the Survivor Feels

    • Everyone reacts differently to sexual assault and will heal at their own pace.
    • It is important that you not assume you know how they are feeling.
    • Almost any reaction is possible and completely normal.

    Be a Good Listener and Be Patient

    • Let the survivor know you are there for them when they are ready to talk.
    • If the survivor wants to talk about the assault with you, do not push for information.
    • Let them tell you what they are comfortable sharing in their own time.

    Help the Victim-Survivor Regain a Sense of Control

    • Realize that during an assault or stalking incident, power has been taken away from them.
    • Support decisions and choices that they make without passing judgment.
    • Try not to tell the victim-survivor what to do.
    • Assist them by presenting options and resources for them to make the decision that’s right for them.

    Respect the Victim-Survivor’s Needs for Privacy

    • If the survivor needs to be alone, respect that decision.

    Do not suggest that the survivor “move on” with their life and forget about the assault.

    • The survivor needs the opportunity to work through the trauma of the assault and begin the healing process.

    Respect the survivor’s right to decide whether or not to report the assault to the police.

    • If your loved one is willing to seek medical attention or report the assault, offer to accompany him or her wherever he/ she needs to go: (hospital, police station, etc.)

    Remember to take care of yourself.

    • Seek support if you need it.
    • You will be better able to support the survivor.
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