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Supporting a Survivor

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Common Reactions

First, know that there is no standard response to an experience of stalking or sexual or interpersonal violence. All survivor reactions are “normal.”

It is not on uncommon after trauma to forget details or not remember everything that happened. They may be confused, have blotchy memories or complete gaps of memory after the event. This is a normal response to something that is traumatic, highly stressful and unexpected.

Feelings of fear, sadness and anger are common. Some people may feel numb. Others experience shock, disbelief or even denial and many have reported feeling helplessness and a loss of control.

Even though it is never the fault of the survivor, some people may feel guilty and blame themselves for things they did or did not do. Others fear being blamed by others.

Maintaining relationships and productivity in school or work can be difficult after experiencing violence. Some survivors avoid talking about what happened or going places that are reminders and most have difficulty trusting others.

Trauma Informed Responses to Disclosures as a PCC Staff or Faculty Member

PCC is committed to providing a learning environment that is free of all forms of sexual discrimination and misconduct. It is important to know if you are designated as a Responsible Employee and are mandated by the college to report disclosures of sexual discrimination and misconduct. Responsible Employees include all employees in Human Resources, Office of Equity and Inclusion, Department of Public Safety, Managers, leads, Faculty Department Chairs, Student Conduct Retention Coordinators, and all PCC employees that hear student appeals including but not limited to financial aid and grade appeals. Connect with your manager or the Office of Equity and Inclusion if you are unsure about your reporting status.

Below is a helpful script to inform the student of your reporting obligations right when you meet a student, or if you feel that a student is about to disclose:

“Please be aware that I need to report incidents you disclose to me inside or outside the classroom that involve gender or sex-based harassment, violence, or discrimination, including your name, to the Office of Equity and Inclusion (OEI), which will prompt OEI to reach out to you for support. See more information on how OEI responds to reports.

However, if you wish to make a confidential disclosure and receive information on resources and additional support, please contact the Outreach and Advocacy Project, Women’s Resource Center, Multicultural Center, Veteran Resource Center, or Queer Resource Center.”

Warm Hand Off to On-Campus Confidential Advocacy

  • Explain your role and any limits to confidentiality that you may have
  • Center the survivor and let them lead the process
    • Ask what is a priority to them at this time
    • Recognize your priority for them may be different than their priority for themselves
  • Give options, while not overwhelming them with information. Ask them what would be most supportive?
    • “Would you be interested in speaking to an advocate who can provide additional support and resources?”
      • Additional resources and support can look like:
        • PCC specific resources
        • Community based resources
        • Safety planning
        • Exploring options around reporting
  • If you are not familiar with an organization who you are referring a student to – invite the student to make a call with you to learn more together and make sure it is an appropriate referral.
  • Do not make promises you cannot keep.
    • If the student cannot stay for the phone call, though would appreciate more information about the resource, do not offer to investigate more if you do not have the capacity to do so. Not following up with resources can lead to experiences of mistrust and institutional betrayal. It also leads to burn out of the staff who feels burdened by this extra work.
    • Survivors have been surviving for a long time, focus on strengths and empowerment rather than trying to “save” the student or “fix” the situation.

Resources for Friends and Family

Connect with Campus Confidential Resources!

Campus confidential resources are available for warm hand offs to best support students after disclosures, but they are also available for staff and faculty to discuss a situation with a student to determine best next steps. If you are wondering how to support a student who disclosed, or you think may have disclosed, reach out to the following resources to talk through the situation: