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The Student Sexually Assaulted

Rape does not provide sexual pleasure to the victim. Instead, it is an aggressive act in which one person exerts power over another. As such, rape or attempted rape constitutes an enormous loss of control over life. It is not an event that can be ignored or forgotten. Shock, guilt, confusion, anger, fear, helplessness, and depression are common responses to rape. A student may have difficulty concentrating on lectures. She/he may withdraw from class discussion and interaction with peers or may cease coming to class entirely. Some students may experience flashback experiences while in class.

DO:
  • Assess whether the student has had medical attention (i.e., injuries, internal bleeding, pregnancy, and STDs are possible).
  • If medical attention is needed, refer to the Emergency Room at Ball Memorial Hospital, Student Health Services, or the student's personal physician.
  • Encourage the victim to contact University Police. Reporting the assault does not require that charges be filed.
  • If the student goes for medical attention or reports to the police, encourage her/him to have an advocate/support person accompany her/him.
  • The support person could be you, a friend, a roommate, someone from the Counseling Center staff, or someone from Victim's Advocacy 765-747-4777.
  • If there is no immediate medical need, focus on the victim's emotional needs:
    • Ask how you can be most helpful.
    • Listen to and believe the person.
    • Self-blame is common. Help the person to see that no behavior on her/his part deserves the response of rape.
    • Encourage the person to get counseling immediately. Counseling can help the person deal with her/his reaction to the rape and to feel positive about herself/himself again.
    • If there has been another contact from the perpetrator or a friend of the perpetrator (by phone or in person), encourage the victim to contact the University Police, the Counseling Center, or the Student Ombudsperson.
    • Occasionally the perpetrator is in the victim's class, lives in the same hall, or is a member of the same organization. If this is the case, the victim may need to make arrangements to meet independently with you for class credit, to move, etc. The victim may not be comfortable identifying the perpetrator to you. Thus, it may be helpful to ask her/him if the perpetrator is in the same class, while giving assurance that this person does not have to be identified.

DON'T:

  • Take control since the victim already feels a great loss of control.
  • Believe rape myths (e.g., she/he was asking to be raped if he/she wore particular clothes, went to the perpetrator's room, was drinking, walked home alone). This can result in blaming the victim.
  • Let your own feelings about the perpetrator override those of the victim. If you get too angry or make threats against the perpetrator, the victim may not share further feelings in an attempt to keep you from getting into trouble.
  • If you know the perpetrator and you state that it is difficult for you to believe that such a person would be a rapist, you may communicate disbelief to the victim.