UMass Amherst’s response to sexual harassment, sexual violence, dating violence, domestic violence, stalking, and other sexual misconduct are informed by best practices in providing survivor-centered, trauma informed support. Coordinating a survivor-centered response includes:
- Prioritizing the emotional and physical safety of the survivor
- Providing access to confidential resources
- Providing accurate information about resource and reporting options
Other survivor-centered responses provided by the university include allowing advocates to attend conduct board hearings and meetings; providing a case manager to assist in managing related issues such as financial aid or scholarships impacted by the assault; assisting in requests for academic related extensions; finding off campus housing; and negotiating with on campus employers.
The university balances the mandate to investigate reported assaults with a response that empowers survivors to take back control of their lives. A trauma informed response recognizes the acute and long term impact of trauma. As a result, the campus response includes immediate intervention and support, such as offering a change in housing and class schedule, along with longer term support and follow up. In support of a trauma informed response, the campus has examined its policies and protocols to reduce the potential of re-traumatizing the survivor, such as providing training to conduct board members, minimizing the number of times a survivor tells the narrative of the assault, offering remedies whether or not the survivor chooses to make a formal report, recognizing why a report may be delayed, and recognizing that immediately after an assault a survivor may not be ready to make decisions about filing a formal complaint.