Creating a Supportive Academic and Work Space
It is important to remember that people of all ages, genders, and backgrounds can be affected by violence. While it is important that we support student survivors, it is also important to support survivors who are our colleagues. Here are some things we can do to create a healthier environment for survivors.
Listen and believe the survivor. Interpersonal violence is often deeply private and personal. If a survivor is sharing with you, it is likely that they trust you or feel it is effecting their academic or work performance. Trust them and listen without judgement.
Blame the perpetrator, not the victim. No matter where the survivor went, what they were doing, or who they were with, the survivor is NOT to blame. Try not to ask “why?” questions, instead focus on comments and questions that validate and do not minimize their experience such as, “No one deserves to be treated in that way” or “Whatever your feelings are right now, they are valid.”
Give them control over their healing process. If you are a mandatory Title IX reporter, explain that reporting to Title IX is a way to connect that individual to resources and that they still have control over the process moving forward. Consider allowing them to fill out the Title IX form with them. All power and control was stripped from the survivor during the violation. Returning control to them is an essential step to demonstrating respect and care.
Be patient. Each survivor responds differently to experiences with violence and will seek out different resources. Some individuals may be dealing with long days in court, meetings with law enforcement or Title IX, or have medical needs related to violence that has occurred. Work with the individual to determine appropriate and reasonable timelines to complete work. Show flexibility when possible.
Make resources easily accessible. You do not need to be an expert on sexual or relationship violence, but try to be familiar with the resources on campus so that you can connect survivors to those who are experts. Consider keeping information about resources stored in your department, on syllabi, on Moodle, or shared drives. If you have questions about resources or need to process, call Safeline at 336-278-3333 or contact a confidential advocate at email@example.com.
Provide content warnings. We do not always know the experiences of our students or colleagues and we cannot create a trigger-free campus, but we can be mindful about the content we share in class, at events, and in meetings. If you are showing violent materials, allow people to skip explicit parts of the material or have alternate material available to those who need it.
Fight rape culture. When you witness bias or harassment, speak out. Address people on campus who use racist, sexist, or homophobic language or make statements that blame victims. If you are not comfortable addressing it directly, consider filling out a Bias Incident Report or see our Bystander Awareness page.
Become a survivor support ally. Lunch and Learn sessions are available to staff/ faculty at Elon who are interested in creating a safer environment for survivors.
For more information about about how to support survivors, contact the Coordinator for Violence Response or the Associate Director for the Gender & LGBTQIA Center, Becca Bishopric Patterson, firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn how to get involved with prevention efforts on campus, check out the Gender and LGBTQIA Center website.