Monday night I was assisting in the intervention skills class. This course is aimed at preparing student affairs professionals to support students should they have certain concerns or needs. Our topics this semester range from depression to Autism to identity.
This week’s topic was sexual assault. This is never an easy subject for anyone. With 1 in 4 college women being sexually assaulted, we need to break the silence.
Claudia Charles, Director of Counseling and Wellness at Fontbonne University, spoke to the class about sexual assault and supporting students who may have experienced such an event. She spoke about counseling students who were assaulters and how being present with the student is helpful in keeping biases in check. She also went over general information, including statistics, sexual assault facts, and emotions victims may be experiencing.
There is so much grey in the experience of sexual assault. No, not every victim will say rape even though it was rape. No, not every victim will fight their assaulter. No, not every victim will want to speak out. No, not every victim will come to the acceptance of their sexual assault.
This brings the conversation back to the thought that we need to support those who do come forward about sexual assault. We need to encourage them to seek counseling and hopefully they will report the crime to the police. We need to strongly encourage victims to seek medical attention for their assault. This is integral in ensuring they are physically ok and collecting any possible evidence should the victim wish to prosecute in the future.
One question I had, as I have never had the experience of accompanying anyone to the emergency room for sexual assault, is what does this experience look like for a person?
Would in the case of people on their parents’ insurance plan result in an explanation of benefits (EOB) mailed home? This could be an issue in instances where the person does not wish to have parents notified. Victims can process the emergency room visit without using insurance, and the visit might be able to be covered by a victim’s grant.
I marvel at how some find the courage to relive their assault in order to seek medical attention, counseling, or to prosecute the assaulter. They are strong and I am proud of those people. Be proud of those people too. Show your support by speaking up about sexual assault. You could be the push someone needs to break the silence.