If you someone has attempted or completed a sexual act without your consent or someone tells you that this has happened to them, here’s how to help.
How to Help Survivors of Sexual Misconduct
There are three basic things to do when someone tells you about an experience with sexual misconduct: Listen, Believe, and Refer. If you find yourself struggling to listen to or believe them, then just refer.
There are no magic words that can heal someone from a traumatic experience. You can be supportive, even if you don’t know or are unsure what to say. Listen respectfully without interrupting. Remain calm. Showing doubt, anger, or questioning their experience may cause someone to shut down.
- Don’t question. Don’t judge. Just believe and support.
- Never blame someone who has been abused or assaulted or try to minimize their experience.
Never ask questions or say things like:
“Are you really sure that's what happened?”
“It couldn’t have been that bad.”
“What did you do to bring that on?”
- Everyone responds to trauma differently. There is no one right way for a survivor to respond after being assaulted or abused. Never interpret someone’s emotions (or apparent lack of emotion) as evidence that sexual misconduct didn’t occur.
It is important to help survivors of sexual misconduct get access to resources that they need for support and healing. If you are aware of an incident of sexual misconduct please contact UMPD at (413) 545-2121, the Dean of Student’s Office at (413) 545-2684 or the Center for Women and Community at (413) 545-0883 or (413) 545-0800 (Rape Crisis).