Shock, guilt, confusion, anger, fear, helplessness, anxiety and depression are common responses to a sexual assault. Often victims of sexual assaults are fearful of seeing the perpetrator if that person is in the community and therefore may not leave his or her room. Flashbacks of the trauma is common and victims tend to startle easily and become hypervigilent, looking everywhere for potential danger or threat. As a result, the student may have difficulty concentrating in class and may cease coming to class at all. Some students experience flashbacks while in class and if this occurs, it is advisable to ask the student what he or she needs. You might suggest the student leave the classroom and walk over to the Counseling Center on an emergency basis to be seen.
Here are some do’s and don'ts in responding to a student who has been sexually assaulted:
- Assess whether the student needs medical attention
- Encourage the student to contact the University Police and convey that reporting doesn’t require that charges be filed
- Suggest the student contact the Victim Advocate 765-285-7844
- Refer the student to the Counseling Center (see section on how to refer a student to the Counseling Center)
- Ask how you can be most helpful
- Listen to and believe what the student is telling you
- Blame the student or ask what the student did to contribute to the situation
- Tell the student you don’t believe him or her
- Believe rape myths such as asking what he or she was wearing, if she or he had been drinking or was walking alone at night
- Take control of the situation such as telling the student what he or she should do as students who have been sexually assaulted typically feel a loss of control
Also check with the Title IX coordinator for reporting issues in order for Ball State University to be in compliance with all federal reporting laws in this type of situation.