We know that there are students on campus who have experienced sexual violence, intimate partner violence, stalking, and harassment. We want you to know that it’s not your fault, and we believe you.
The University Counseling Services Advocacy Program can support survivors determine their needs in regards to health (physical, mental, and emotional), reporting options, and academic concerns after experiencing sexual assault, dating violence, and/or stalking. They provide information on personal safety, boundaries, relationships, campus & community resources and can accompany students to incident-related appointments with police, Title IX, and more. The advocates can be reached at Myoptions@vcu.edu, or at 804-828-6200. Advocates are confidential, meaning they do not share information with the university or police and do not take formal reports.
Listen, Believe, Refer are the three most critical things you can do to support survivors in your life.
Listen: Fully listen to a survivor. Do not interrupt them or offer advice. Let them share their story in whatever way they feel comfortable doing so and communicate without judgment. Try to avoid putting labels on what happened, unless the survivor chooses to label it. Let them know you believe them, and what happened to them isn’t their fault.
Offer Support: Believe their story without question, and then ask what you can do to help. Try to avoid blanket statements like “I can do whatever you need” and offer concrete ways you can provide support, such as going for walks, talking with them about their experience, or eating dinner with them.
Be there: Offer to support them in accessing resources. Offer to go with them to a medical appointment, or to report what happened. If they do not want company, offer to support them after their appointment.
Be Patient: There is no timetable for recovering from trauma. Try to avoid putting pressure on them to engage in activities they aren’t ready to do yet. Never pressure them to engage in a resource, such as reporting the crime, if they do not want to do so.
Encourage Self-Care: It’s important that basic needs are met. Encourage them to take care of their physical wellbeing by seeing a doctor, taking a shower, eating, and sleeping. While these may seem basic, they are essential.
Refer: Be aware of resources that are available. Keep in mind the survivor will choose when or if to engage in resources, and you should always support their decision, even if you disagree.
Free and confidential 24/7 resources for survivors of sexual or intimate partner violence, stalking, or harassment