Division of Student Affairs > Support Services > Health & Wellness > Sexual & Relationship Violence Prevention > Support a Survivor
DePaul Public Safety(Available 24/7) LPC: 773.325.7777 Loop: 312.362.8400
Chicago PoliceFor Emergencies - call 911
Survivor Support Advocates(confidential) Office of Health Promotion and Wellness 773.325.7129 firstname.lastname@example.org
Director of Gender Equity (Title IX Coordinator)email@example.com
University Counseling Services (confidential) LPC: 773.325.7779 Loop: 312.362.6923
Misconduct ReportingFree Hotline 877.236.8390 Web Intake Site depaul.ethicspoint.com
24 Hour HotlinesChicago Rape Crisis Hotline 888.293.2080 City of Chicago Domestic Violence Help Line 877.863.6338
People close to survivors of sexual assault or domestic violence often feel that they need to be strong and take care of their friend or loved one. It is normal to want to help, and that support is crucial to the survivor, but it is important to remember to take care of yourself, as well. You may have to cope with your own feelings of violation, vulnerability and helplessness, as well as with the issue of how to treat the survivor in a helpful way. You may feel sad, helpless, frightened, angry or confused; your responses, which may be very strong, are normal and legitimate. You may feel that you were at fault for the assault, and dwell on a long list of "If only I had..." Sexual violence is only the fault of the perpetrator.
Campus and city resources are available for supporters to have their own place to turn for support and conversation so that they may remain a positive influence for their friend, partner or family member. You may call the Chicago Rape Crisis Hotline at 888-293-2080, 24 hours a day to ask questions and get referrals. The Office of Sexual Health & Violence Prevention and the Dean of Students Office are also available to answer these questions and address concerns.
If someone has disclosed to you their experience of sexual violence, the most important thing to remember is to believe them. Hearing phrases like "I believe you," or "You did not deserve this," or "It was not your fault," can be invaluable to someone who is questioning why this has happened to them. Additionally, it is important to remember the following:
If your child discloses to you that they have been sexually assaulted, you may have many different reactions. It is important to try and keep your emotional reactions limited until you discuss further the role your child is looking for you to fill. Because sexual assault is so disempowering, it may be instinct to take over and start making decisions. We urge you to really listen to your child about what they want to see happen and follow their lead.
Discussing sexual assault can be very difficult in any situation, but especially when telling a parent. Parents may be seen as, or see themselves as, protectors. Telling someone who you know is deeply concerned about your safety and well-being that you have experienced a sexual assault can be very daunting. The reaction you have can make a big difference to a survivor's recovery. For information on how to talk to and support a survivor, please refer to our section for supporters.
Additional questions or concerns can be addressed by the office of Health Promotion and Wellness or the Dean of Students Office.
Like many of the statements on this page, this is JUST PLAIN WRONG. Some experiences are traumatic for virtually anyone, regardless of how "normal" the person is. Often psychotherapy and rape crisis counseling can be very helpful for survivors with mild, moderate, or severe problems due to sexual assault.
Anger is an understandable reaction on your part, but frequently harmful for a survivor because they have just faced one person whose anger was out of control. They will then have the burden of calming you down so there will not be any more violence.
Instead, tell your friend that you are willing to listen when they are ready to talk. Many sexual assault survivors find that talking about stressful events speeds up recovery if the survivor is allowed to talk at his or her own pace. If you do not feel you can be a supportive listener, offer to help direct the survivor to another friend or counselor.
Rape and incest often affect the interactions of the survivor with other people and cause confusion about and fear toward sex and intimacy. For instance, a woman who was sexually assaulted by a man may fear men. Survivors often need to exert and feel more in control of a relationship than they might have before an assault.
Sexual assault is ONLY THE PERPETRATOR'S FAULT. It is not the fault of the survivor. It is not the fault of the survivor's family and friends. Statements like "It's not my fault" may suggest to the survivor that the assault is their fault. If you want to talk about fault at all, tell the survivor, "It's not your fault."
Regardless of whether the perpetrator continues to sexually assault people, it has nothing to do with the survivor or their response. The fault of each sexual assault is always with the person committing the assault, not those who have been unable to stop them.
Different people make different choices about going to the police and pressing charges. Some studies show that reporting to the police, though painful, sometimes helps with recovery from sexual assault. These actions also help get rapists off the street and emphasize that such violence will not be condoned.
The reminders of a sexual assault are constant and everywhere: some examples are sex, interactions with men (or women), street harassment, and any position of vulnerability. In the face of this, forgetting may be impossible.
This DOES NOT apply to resuming sex after sexual assault. Let the survivor decide when they are ready to have sex or to do other things of which they are afraid as a result of the assault. Be aware of subtle pressures to have sex that you may impose on them. It may help to seek couple's counseling.
SEXUAL ASSAULT IS A BIG DEAL for many reasons. An assault can destroy a person's belief that the world is a safe place, that they know who to trust, that they have control over their own body and sexual activity. Rape is a life-threatening act. Rape is NOT just sex.
There are numerous natural responses to being attacked including freezing, submitting and fighting. Your friend has survived; don't demand more of them than that.
Yes it can! Tell your friend you are ready to listen whenever they want to talk about it and express their feelings. If they can't talk about it with you, help them find someone else with whom they can talk about it. Listen and do not criticize, judge or condemn. Patience and love can help.