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Title IX Coordinator (Jim Osborn)

1000 E Univ Ave, Dept 4307

Bureau of Mines, Rm. 320

Laramie, WY 82071

Phone: (307) 766-5200

Fax: (307) 766-2742

Email: report-it@uwyo.edu

Information for Families

Adapted from the Respect Program at Emory University.

 

click here to leave page rapidlyThings You Can Discuss with your Student

  • Alcohol is the #1 drug used by perpetrators of sexual violence.

    • Alcohol may make it difficult to clearly evaluate a potentially dangerous situation and to resist a sexual assault. Perpetrators of sexual violence know this and often use alcohol as a way to disable their targets.

    • It can be helpful to talk to your student about low risk choices around alcohol including noticing if someone is giving them a lot to drink, which could be an attempt to lower their inhibitions.

    • Sexual assault is typically premeditated and alcohol can be used to exert power over a potential victim. However, alcohol consumption does not cause sexual assault, and sexual assault is never the survivor’s fault.

    • In addition to alcohol, other drugs are also used to incapacitate.

      • They can be colorless, odorless, and tasteless. Signs that one might have been drugged include:

        • Feeling more intoxicated than usual when drinking the same amount.

        • Waking up feeling especially hung over and being unable to account for periods of time.

        • Being able to remember taking a drink, but being unable to recall events after that.

        • Feeling as though you have had sex, but not being able to recall all of or part of the incident.

  • If someone feels that they may have been drugged, it’s important to inform the police and medical staff as soon as possible. Blood and urine tests are typically effective only within 48 hours to determine if drugs were used.

  • This is important information for everyone.

    • While we hope that your child will not experience sexual assault, relationship abuse, or stalking while a student at UW, it’s impossible to predict who may need assistance.

    • While your student may or may not be the target of an assault, your student may need support or information about something that has happened to a friend or roommate who has been sexually assaulted, sexually harassed, or experienced relationship abuse or stalking.

    • It’s important that you and your student are informed about the available resources and educated on sexual assault, relationship abuse, and stalking so that your student can reduce their own risk and also help support a friend(s) if needed.

    • UW believes that all members of our community are a part of working toward eradicating sexual violence on our campus and supporting survivors.

    • Men Can Experience Violence Too

      • While a majority of sexual assaults, relationship abuse, sexual harassment, and stalking incidents involve men as perpetrators and women as victims, we know that men can be victims too.  

      • Abuse can occur in relationships regardless of the genders of the sexual or romantic partners.

      • UW offers support to all students, regardless of gender. Transgender and gender non-conforming students disproportionately experience sexual violence.

      • Ending Violence Is Everyone’s Responsibility

        • Men can get involved in ending violence. Sexual assault, relationship abuse, sexual harassment, and stalking are not just women’s issues; they are community issues that your son should be concerned about.

        • Men can also help end sexual violence by personally understanding consent and the consequences of not obtaining consent before engaging in sexual activity. Most men aren’t perpetrators; however, young men need to have a solid understanding of consent and how it relates to alcohol use and/or other forms of incapacitation.

        • On college campuses, students’ peers influence each other a great deal, so it is important that students are promoting respect and awareness in their daily activities.

 

What to Know Before Supporting a Survivor

 

Sexual assault can happen to anyone. As family members, it can be very difficult and overwhelming to hear that your student has been sexually assaulted. If it happens, it can be hard to know how to act or what to say.

Recognize Every Person Responds Differently to Trauma

There is no single way to respond to a traumatic experience. Reactions can vary widely; some of the more common reactions include:

  • Feeling hopeless about the future

  • Feeling detached or unconcerned about others

  • Feeling on guard and constantly alert

  • Having disturbing dreams and memories or flashbacks

  • Having school or work difficulties

  • Feeling nervous, helpless, fearful, sad

  • Feeling shocked, numb, and not able to feel love or joy

  • Blaming oneself or having negative views of oneself or the world

  • Distrust of others

  • Being withdrawn, feeling rejected or abandoned

 There can also be a range of physical and behavioral responses, including:

  • Trouble eating or sleeping

  • Having trouble concentrating or making decisions

  • Feeling jumpy and getting startled easily at sudden noises

  • Pounding heart, rapid breathing, feeling edgy

  • Severe headache when thinking of the event

  • Failure to engage in exercise, diet, safe sex, regular health care activities

  • Using substances more

  • Avoiding people, places, and things related to the event

  • Being irritable, agitated, or having outbursts of anger/sadness

Offer Unconditional Support

Realize that these common responses cover a wide range of emotions, from fear, distress, and humiliation, to anger, confusion, numbness, and guilt. Survivors can shift between feeling any of these responses. Whatever the response, the single most important thing you can do is help your college student feel safe and supported.

Be Patient

It is important that your student be allowed to experience and process through their feelings in their own time and without fear of having these feelings invalidated or dismissed. STOP Violence program at UW can provide free confidential support, information, resources, and advocacy to both you and your student to help in the healing process.

When responding to students after a sexual assault, here are some suggestions on how you can provide support.

Believe Your Student

  • First and most importantly, believe your student when they confide in you. Do not be afraid to repeat and reassure this point; trust and acceptance are critical components of effective support. Even more than that, simply listening is important.

  • Do not place blame on your student for the sexual assault, and don’t pressure your student to talk. Let your student set the pace and focus on their needs. Remember that every person’s healing process is unique. Try to help your student explain why they believe it is their fault; you may need to respond with understanding and sympathy to those thoughts, as self-blame can be a method for a survivor to regain some level of control. Gently remind your student that a survivor is never to blame for what happened.

  • Avoid making assumptions. Keep in mind that sexual assault or relationship abuse can occur regardless of gender or sexual orientation. Avoid making assumptions or suggesting reasons for the violence.

  • When talking to your student, avoid taking on the role of detective, judge, or jury. Your primary role is to provide support, not to “solve” the case. Asking for too many details can make the survivor think that you don’t believe them or may simply shut the person down altogether. Realize that “legal justice” and “emotional healing” are two different things; for many survivors, legal justice is not the primary goal.

Ensure Ongoing Safety

  • The reported assailant may be someone that you or your student knows well. Eighty to ninety percent of sexual assaults on a college campus are committed by acquaintances. If a student reports abuse in a relationship, you may know both parties. If you know the reported assailant, you may struggle with your own feelings of disbelief that that person could be capable of such behavior. However, false reports of assault are very rare; avoid expressing doubt to a survivor, even if you may feel that way. Instead talk through these feelings with someone at the STOP Violence Program.

  • If the assailant is someone known to you and/or your student, talk with your student about taking the necessary steps to ensure their continuing safety. The STOP Violence Program is available to provide confidential support and safety planning. The Title IX Coordinator and Dean of Students may also be able to provide accommodations to help your student.

  • If there is relationship abuse, help the student determine ways to stay safe, whether or not the student chooses to stay in a relationship in which there is abuse. While you should express your concern for the student’s safety, relationship abuse is complicated, and telling the student to end the relationship may actually create more danger. The STOP Violence Program can help you create a personal safety plan and provide additional information.

Help Locate Resources

  • Provide your student with confidential resources where they can discuss options and plan what to do next. The STOP Violence Program is one of these resources. They can help you find others on and off campus as well.

  • Discuss options and ask them what they want to do next. This may or may not include contacting an advocate, the police, or a Title IX Coordinator. Survivors have different reactions to the idea of reporting a sexual assault, so make sure to listen. It is not an appropriate option for everyone, but the STOP Violence Program can help your student navigate any of these processes and accompany the student throughout.

  • Help your student get the professional care and support they may need. Counseling can be very helpful in assisting your student and you through the healing process of coping with sexual assault.

Offer Unconditional Support

  • Recognize that an individual’s coping strategies may vary. Some find talking about the assault helpful while others do not. You may want to let the student know that you are available at any time they may want to talk about the experience. Even if they choose not to discuss it, still check in without pressuring a conversation to happen.

  • It is important to acknowledge that this is a stressful time for your student, and the priority needs to be on your student’s process rather than on your anxiety or desire to help.

  • Accept that ultimately you may not be the central person to help your student through this process. Even if you are the initial support provider, it is important you recognize a survivor may decide to seek support from other sources than you, and that decision is theirs to make.

  • Do not pressure a survivor to include you in the recovery process; instead, let the student know you are there and are willing to help with anything needed, no strings attached.

Take Care of Yourself

  • As you provide support for your student, it’s also important to pay attention to how the information that you learn impacts you. Some of you may be survivors yourselves or have experienced the assault of someone else close to you, which could trigger unresolved feeling from the past.

  • Many people will feel frustrated that they were unable to protect their student. It’s normal to feel angry, depressed, helpless, and/or overwhelmed when someone we love is assaulted.

  • If you find yourself feeling this way, consider getting help. Your local rape crisis center can be a free and confidential place to talk about your feelings and get referrals to local mental health counselors that have experience working on these issues. Professionals can also offer you more guidance on how best to support your student, which is the ultimate goal.

  • Take the time to relax and take care of yourself. Taking care of one’s self at a time like this may feel selfish or unnecessary, but it’s important to remember that your student needs you. If your student sees you having difficulty, they may feel the need to take care of you and therefore focus less on their own healing.

  • Additionally, avoid imposing your own reactions about the incident on to your student. Curiosity, asking questions, and expressing your own feeling are perfectly natural, but you should allow your student space to respond on their own terms.

Encourage Medical Attention

  • Know that there are psychological and medical risks that may follow untreated sexual assault or relationship violence. Many students attempt to minimize or deny their experience. This approach may make them unwilling to get necessary medical and emotional care. If the student is unwilling to follow-up with medical evaluation and counseling, be as persuasive as possible and try to help keep appointments.

  • Encourage your student to seek medical attention, but understand that your student has the right to decide what medical attention is necessary. Your student may opt to:

    • Whatever the choice, it’s important that students make their own choices to regain control over their body after a sexual assault.

    • Encourage your student to reach out to the STOP Violence Program at 307-766-3296 or stopviolence@uwyo.edu, they can provide confidential and anonymous guidance on accessing care and understanding the processes that would entail.

    • Seek care and have an evidence collection kit performed at Ivinson Memorial Hospital, or

    • Seek preventative STI treatment at Student Health Services, or

    • Do nothing at this time.

You may feel:

  • Concern for your child. You may not know how to help the survivor deal with the trauma.

  • Helplessness. Parents may wish they could have protected their child and want to fix the situation so life can go back to normal.

  • Out of Control. Just like your child, you may feel you have lost control of your life. The assault has changed the parent's relationship with the survivor, and it is out of the parent's control to change that.

  • Anger. You may want to harm the offender. While this is a natural reaction, it is not realistic and creates further crisis. In fact, in some cases, the survivor may feel the need to protect the offender.

 

What to Do When Actually Providing Support to Survivors

Consider the surroundings:

  • Does the student feel safe right now? Is this area private or confidential? What would help the student feel more comfortable?

  • Does the student want someone else there, a glass of water, or a closed or open door?

  • Make sure to turn your full attention to the student by turning off cell phones and diminishing distractions.

Things you can say:

            “Thanks for coming to see me or telling me or calling.”

            “Take your time.”

            “What is your biggest concern right now?”

            “What’s on your mind?”

            “You’re safe here.”

            “What would help you the most today?”

            “You have support at UW.”

            “No one should have to face something like this alone.”

            “How are you feeling?” 

            “No one asks to be sexually assaulted or abused.”

            “You did what you needed to do to make it through.”

            “Feel free to say whatever is on your mind.”

            “You’re not burdening me. I’m here to help.”

            “We don’t have to figure everything out at once. Let’s take it one step at a time.”

            “I believe you.”

            Nothing. Be comfortable with some silence and pauses.

Things you can do:

  • Have an open, welcoming stance. Sit near the student, on the same level; avoid talking through barriers like a desk.

  • Avoid giving advice. Explore the options with the student rather than telling the student what to do or what should be done. The student is the best expert on the situation, and this can help the student regain a sense of control.

  • Focus on immediate health and safety issues. It can be overwhelming to consider all of the possibilities at once, so you should start with those immediate concerns.

  • Write down resources. Give written information and referrals to ensure that the student has the information, as they may be too traumatized to fully remember the conversation. If it’s safe to do so, emailing can also be helpful.

  • Do not threaten retaliation. Keep the focus on the student who has come to you. Do not threaten violence or other retribution against the perpetrator or focus on what the perpetrator might have been thinking.

  • Ask permission before touching the student. If you think it would be appropriate to touch or hug the student to provide support, simply ask if it is alright to do so. This might be a challenging time for the student to be touched, regardless of your intent to be comforting.

  • Minimize future contact with the assailant. Help the student plan for their safety if maintaining contact. Mediation is not an option in situations involving assault or abuse. Do not suggest that the student have future conversations or contact. Respect whatever decision the student makes.

  • Do not provide medication. Unless you are a medical professional, you should refrain from giving medication or medical advice; instead, encourage the student to seek medical care. If the student is going to go to an emergency room after a recent incident, ask if they have showered, changed clothes, or eaten anything. If not, encourage them to wait until after going to the hospital.

  • Limit the conversation, but ensure follow-up. Telling their story can be difficult and re-traumatizing, both for students and for you as a support provider. Set a time limit to the conversation and ensure follow-up to avoid having the student re-traumatize themselves by continuing to retell the story, or becoming emotionally drained yourself to the point that you are unable to be supportive.

  • Take care of yourself. It can be challenging or emotionally draining to support someone who has experienced something traumatic. Make sure to take care of yourself.


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Contact Us

Title IX Coordinator (Jim Osborn)

1000 E Univ Ave, Dept 4307

Bureau of Mines, Rm. 320

Laramie, WY 82071

Phone: (307) 766-5200

Fax: (307) 766-2742

Email: report-it@uwyo.edu

1000 E. University Ave. Laramie, WY 82071
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