At Elon we believe that disrupting "rape culture" is essential to ending violence. To this end we educate students about asking for active consent, being an active bystander in situations that are disruptive to Living the Maroon Life, facilitating discussions about gender norms and supporting survivors of violence.
Elon University supports survivors by having multiple opportunities for survivors to talk with professionals confidentially and prioritizing a survivors autonomy and choice. We understand that survivors and victims of violence have had experiences in which their power and control has been taken away from them and that it is empowering for survivors to be able to exert that control over their experiences once again. Survivors can seek confidential support at the following places:
For survivors or victims of interpersonal violence:
1. Let the individual identify
Ask the individual how they would like their gender identified (he/she/ze/they/other) and let them label or identify their experience (i.e. sexual assault, rape, etc.) and how they would like to identify (survivor, victim, etc.). Be careful not to assume about the nature of their experience or the gender of or relationship to the offender.
2. Believe and support the individual
The U.S. DOJ states that over 98% of people who disclose are truthful, therefore you should believe the person unconditionally. Additionally, the shame and blame that is perpetuated in our culture persuades survivors not to come forward about an incident of sexual violence. Therefore if someone is willing to tell you about an incident of violence, they are risking their self-image and being humiliated in order to do so. These reasons make it incredibly important that you support them completely. Remember that each person responds differently to trauma and just because their response is not the same as yours, does not make their experience any less valid.
3. Restate that he/she is NOT to blame
The perpetrator or offender is the only one to blame for a sexual assault or act of violence no matter what the survivor was or was not doing or wearing. Tell and remind them that the incident was in no way their fault. People who take advantage or are violent towards others are making a choice to harm.
4. Listen, ask few questions and respect silence and personal space
Employ active listening skills and be aware of your facial expressions while they share with you and try not to interrupt. Remember your responsibility is to support the survivor, not investigate. Be patient as they disclose and offer to leave the room or give them space if they need it. Allow for silence – sometimes nothing needs to be said. Ask questions that are open ended and empowering, for example “How are you doing?” or “What do you want to do now?”
5. Validate their feelings
Whatever the survivor is feeling is right for them – there is no right or wrong way to feel or heal.
6. Provide resources but let the individual make the choices!
Help the survivor identify a support system and a crisis plan. The number one priority is the safety of the individual. Part of helping a survivor feel empowered is to let them make all choices that are necessary. Be patient and let the survivor recover at their own rate. Don’t assume that you know the right actions and answers; a survivor knows their experience and situation best. Just because you don’t agree with their choice(s) does not mean it is not the best choice(s) for them. Support whatever choice(s) they make!
For more information about responding to victims/survivors of interpersonal violence please contact the Coordinator for Violence Response at (336) 278 – 5009.