Every survivor's experience of sexual assault is different and each survivor may react in many different ways.
These reactions may include confusion, anxiety, fear, shock, numbness, self-blame, guilt, shame, sense of loss of control/ powerless, life disruptions (physical, psychological, social), anger, isolation, low self-esteem, increased substance use, depression, suicidal ideation, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Whatever the reaction, it may be helpful for the survivor to call a friend, relative, partner, counselor, the police, public safety, a rape hotline, and/or an advocate specifically trained in assisting survivors of sexual assault. During this time a survivor also has a perplexing number of decisions to make that can be confusing and overwhelming. Whatever decision he or she chooses to make is always the right one. It is important for the survivor to be in control of the choices he or she makes. It is also important to inform survivors that they have options.
Recommend that they speak to a trained counselor or advocate. On campus, counselors at the Center for Counseling and Consultation, as well as campus ministers are available to provide support to survivors in need. There are also several off-campus resources that are available. In addition, there are trained advocates available to the survivor during different stages of the process. For support during a hospital visit, advocates are available through programs such as SAVI. In addition, SAVI offers advocates to help them with any legal questions and/or concerns. Advocates (advisors who are members of the University Advisor Panel) are also available to a survivor if their case goes through the University's Conduct Board hearing. See the Resource List section of this guide for a comprehensive listing.
Get help for yourself. Learning of traumatic news can be difficult to process. You may feel the need to talk with someone about your own feelings and concerns.
It is important to avoid questioning a survivor about how he or she tried to resist the assault or his or her actions prior to the assault. This line of inquiry can come across as blaming even when you are just trying to get the facts.
Examples of what not to say: