If you are concerned that your student is in a potentially harmful relationship, contact the MUPD at 911 or the Counseling Center at (717) 872-3122. For more information view our campus resources on the left of this website.
Sexual assault is traumatic. It is often difficult for someone who has been sexually assaulted to be alone, especially immediately after the assault. Encourage your student to find a friend to stay with him/her. Encourage your student to seek medical attention as soon as possible, even if he/she does not want to report the assault to the police. Even if it has been awhile since the assault occurred, your student may still benefit from medical attention.
How to Help as a Parent:
Believe your son or daughter when they confide in you. Don’t pressure them to talk. It is better to go slowly and let them set the pace. Listen and help them process through their feelings. Validate their anger, pain, and fear. These are natural responses that need to be felt, expressed, and heard. It is okay to tell your son or daughter that this is a difficult topic for you to talk about. Let them know that you are open to talk about anything, even if it is uncomfortable.
Do not blame your son or daughter, or yourself. Avoid asking “why” questions as much as possible because these often imply blame. Focus on his/her needs. If they didn’t tell you immediately about the assault, listen to their reasons. It is very common for survivors to wait before sharing with people they love. Reassure them that they have your love and support.
Take the necessary steps to protect and ensure your son or daughter’s safety. Encourage them to seek medical attention, or alternative housing if necessary. Understand that your son or daughter has the right to decide what steps are necessary to take. It’s important that your son or daughter regain a sense of control. Sexual assault is a crime that takes away an individual’s power. It can make them feel invaded, changed, and out of control. It is crucial for survivors to be able to make their own decisions in order to regain power over their own lives.
Discuss with your son or daughter their options and ask them what they want to do next. This may or may not include contacting a counselor, advocate, judicial officer and/or the police. Reporting a sexual assault crime can be a very difficult, long, and painful process for survivors. It is not an appropriate option for everyone, but a trained advocate can help you both navigate through their options.
Make sure your son or daughter gets the professional care and support they may need. Counseling can be very helpful in assisting your son or daughter through the healing process of coping with the sexual assault. Remember that every person’s healing process is unique.
Recognize your son or daughter’s need for privacy. Their boundaries have been violated and reclaiming personal space is important. Respect the time and space it takes to heal after a sexual assault.
Take care of yourself. Educate yourself about sexual assault and the healing process. Realize when you’ve reached your own limitations. Find a supportive person or counselor with whom you can share your strong feelings with so that your conversations with your son or daughter can focus on their needs.
Seek immediate professional help if your son or daughter displays any suicidal behaviors or if you are worried about their emotional or physical well-being.
- Changes in academic performance
- Changes in behavior. Examples are sleeping problems, hygiene problems, and acting out.
- Changes in relationship patterns or the way they interact with loved ones.
- Depression or references to suicide.
Offering your child the following tips will aide in their advancement in making smart sexual decision making.
- Welcome: Be available to your student and listen to what they are going through.
- Interest: Ask about your student’s opinions, friends, and college experiences without being to intrusive.
- Support Good Goals: Ask what your student’s goals are and share your support
- Encourage, Educate, and Empower: Give your student the guidance, information, and skills to be successful.
- N---Say “No” not “maybe” Remind your student to be decisive.
- I--- Follow with an “I” statement. For example, “I plan to wait a few more years to have sex"
- C--- if unwanted behavior persists, “Change.” Teach your student to change the topic to anything.
- E--- if these strategies do not help, your student needs an “Exit” plan. Your student should know to recognize and leave a bad situation immediately. It is a good idea for your student to have a code phrase that she or he could say to a friend that will let them know that they need to leave quickly.