You can help.

Whether you are a friend, parent, or professor, offering support to someone involved in sexual harassment, sexual violence, or relationship violence may be one of the hardest and best things you'll ever do. Below you can find information to help you help the people you care about--and also help yourself.

 

SUPPORT YOUR FRIENDS | SUPPORT YOUR CHILD | SUPPORT YOUR STUDENT| RESPONDENT SUPPORT

 

 

SUPPORT YOUR FRIEND

When a friend is in pain or in need, our first instinct is to help. But what is the best way to help a friend who has experienced sexual assault, sexual harassment, stalking, or relationship violence?

Every person reacts differently to trauma: there is no "right" way to react to sexual violence. Some people might completely shut down and seem blank; some might cry; some might want to act like nothing happened and go back to "normal." More than that, how a person feels one minute, one hour, one day, isn't how they'll always feel as they continue to process what has happened. As a friend, it can be difficult to know what to do or say to help your friend when they are struggling with hard emotions like confusion, anger, blame, sadness, fear, helplessness. But there are ways for you to support your friend--and yourself--as you move forward.

The single most important thing you can do to support your friend is to tell them that you believe them and are there for them. Your friend is vulnerable, and your reaction can influence whether or not they choose to share information with others, including the police or mental and physical health counseling services. Stay calm and non-judgmental. Tell your friend you believe them and want to support them however you can.

The following suggestions will not “fix” the pain or make the trauma disappear, but reacting or acting in a supportive way can help them feel less isolated and safer.

  • Be calm. If you are in crisis, the victim or survivor may feel the need to take care of you rather than themselves. Be aware of the importance of separating your own experiences and emotions from them.
  • Listen. Being a good listener means being non-judgmental and non-blaming. Try not to be intrusive.
  • Be informed. Learn about the services available at Tulane and in the city and be able to assist them in connecting to resources. You can call any of the resources on campus to ask them about the services they provide--friends often make the first outreach to support services, helping the victim feel more comfortable with connecting to the University's support options.
  • Encourage. If they choose to report to law enforcement or the university, support them in those choices. Offer to go with them to speak to Victim Support Services or to the Police.
  • Understand that it is normal for the person to experience a wide range of emotions and reactions.

While there are many different ways to provide support, there are things to avoid. Be mindful to avoiding the following:

  • Don’t question their role in the situation. This could make the person feel that they are being blamed and were somehow responsible for the situation. Don’t tell them what you would have done.
  • Don’t tell them what to do, but rather inform them the resources available.
  • Don’t blame them.
  • Don’t tell them how to feel or how you think they should feel.
  • Don't promise that everything will be "okay": you don't know what okay looks or feels like for them. Only promise what you know you can give--your support, your love, your time.

 

Supporting someone who is in pain can take a toll on you: for you to take care of your friend, you have to take care of yourself. Every resource available to victims is also available to you: you can reach out directly to Case Management and Victim Support Services, CAPS, or any of the other supports at Tulane to process your own emotions. Read more about how to practice good self-care here.

SUPPORT YOUR CHILD

As a parent, learning that your son or daughter was the victim of sexual violence, relationship violence or stalking can be incredibly overwhelming. Feeling rage, helplessness, guilt, anguish, fear and anxiety is natural. You might feel the urge to hurry up and “fix” things even when you know that’s probably not possible. Here are some guidelines to help you support your student’s recovery.

Believe
Speaking out is often very difficult for a victim. Your reaction can strongly influence whether or not they choose to share information with others, including the police, the university or mental and physical health counseling services. If your student shares their story with you, tell them you believe them and want to support them in any way you can.

Listen
It might feel like a role-reversal, but in this situation, as a parent, your job is to listen actively and non-judgmentally. Let your student control what and how much information they want to share with you. Digging for every detail can overwhelm or alienate them. Tell them you are there to listen and support them.

Assure
Self-blame and self-doubt are common reactions of victims of sexual violence, relationship violence and stalking. Assure and reassure them that what happened was not their fault.

Accept
Accept that your student might not have come to you before their friends, professors, university administration, counselors, or others. Don’t put them on the defense. What matters is that they came to you now. Now is the time to support them and help them heal.

Allow
Allow your student to decide the next steps. There is no way to undo the past. Victim -survivors of sexual violence, relationship violence and stalking need to maintain the ability to control the next steps and their personal healing process. Where possible, offer guidance and information about available resources and additional support, but let them choose.

Control Your Emotions
It is natural to grieve with your student, but try to control your emotions when talking about what happened. It’s hard for a student to see their parent struggle or lose emotional control, and they might feel guilt or shame for sharing their situation with you.

Support Yourself
Seek out support for yourself. Neglecting your own emotional, mental and physical health to take care of your student will make it more difficult for you to support your student. Many of the resources available to your student are available to you too.

From The University of Connecticut

SUPPORT YOUR STUDENT

As an employee at Tulane, you have an obligation to report any incidents of sexual harassment, sexual assault, stalking, or relationship violence that you either witness or are disclosed to you by students. In no event should the disclosing victim be told that your conversation will be confidential. You can report disclosures online at tulane.edu/concerns or call the Title IX Coordinator at 504-314-2160.

Faculty members are in a unique position to provide care to our students: you see students on a continual basis, so you are able to see if a student's behavior changes, if they exhibit increased emotions or anxiety, if there is an erosion of their academic performance. All of these can be signs that a student is experiencing stress or crisis, like a sexual assault; your care can help connect a student to the resources that they need.

Moreover, students who experience sexual violence may need accommodations in their classes. Students may miss class for appointments with counseling or the police; they may need extensions on assignments; they may have safety concerns that impact their seating arrangements. Either your student or Case Management & Victim Support Services will speak with you about these needs, and it is the expectation of every faculty member to provide reasonable accommodations to help remedy the effects of sexual assault. Sexual violence should not stand in the way of a student's success; your support can ensure that does not happen. 

SUPPORT THE RESPONDENT

Being accused of any violation of the Code of Student Conduct is difficult; in sexual violence cases, it can be particularly hard to process. Just as friends might turn to you if they are a victim of sexual violence, a friend might confides in you that they have been accused of committing sexual harassment, sexual assault, stalking, or relationship violence. Knowing how to support an accused individual--or, respondent--can be hard. If someone accused of sexual violence turns to you for help, know that listening and referring them to resources is a way to offer your support.

  • Listen actively and without judgment. Listening isn’t condoning what may or may not have happened. You don’t need to take sides or even express your opinion at all. Just listen.
  • Learning more about sexual assault, sexual harassment, relationship violence, and stalking can help you sort out your own feelings as well as better support your friend.
  • Direct your friend to resources on campus, like CAPS, the Student Health Center, Case Management & Victim Support Services,  where they can speak about what they are experiencing and process their feelings. They might feel scared and overwhelmed about the conduct process, so encouraging them to speak to the Title IX Coordinator or the Office of Student Conduct to learn more about their rights and explain the investigation and adjudication processes can help manage their concerns.

As you provide support to your friend, remember that you can best take care of others when you take care of yourself. Supporting someone who is dealing with sexual assault allegations can be confusing and emotionally fraught, so don't hesitate to reach out to those same support resources to get the help you need, too.

A Note on Retaliation:

We all can feel deep loyalty to our friends; just like with reported victims of sexual violence, there can be a need to "fix" what your friend is experiencing or "make it go away." You might want to speak to the reporting student or take some action to communicate your support for the respondent. It is important for you to remember that Tulane prohibits retaliation against individuals (including the respondent) involved in the reporting, investigation, and adjudication of sexual violence. Also know that your friend might have a "No Contact Order" with the reporting student, so your actions need to respect that order's directives. If you have any questions or concerns about what constitutes retaliation or about No Contact Orders, contact the Office of Student Conduct.