The Sexually Assaulted Student

Sexual assault is any intentional touching or fondling by the accused, either directly or through the clothing, of the victim’s genitals, breasts, thighs, or buttocks without the victim’s consent. It can include, but is not limited to acts or attempted acts of rape, forced sodomy, forced oral copulation, rape by a foreign object, sexual battery, or acquaintance rape. Rape by an acquaintance accounts for 60 percent of all rapes and can be psychologically more damaging than stranger rape.

Individuals who have been sexually assaulted suffer a significant degree of physical and emotional trauma during a rape, immediately after a rape, and over a considerable time period after a rape. Rape Trauma Syndrome helps describe common reactions to the experience of being raped; however, it is important to remember that each individual may respond in their own unique way. During the acute phase, which can last for as few as two days following a rape to as long as several months after a rape, the student may express a variety of emotions including, shock, disbelief, helplessness, shame, anger, depression. Others may appear to be very controlled with their emotions, seeming almost numb. During the second phase, outward adjustment, the student may appear as if she is adjusting to being raped and dealing with it; however, she may be trying to forget about the rape to the best of her ability.

DO:

  • Provide empathy, support and understanding – correct self blame.
  • Let them know how to report this if they choose to (e.g. University Police or Chico PD).
  • See UPD sexual assault Web page for more information on what is involved in reporting) (e.g. getting medical attention and evidence collecting, protective orders, etc.)

DON’T:

  • Minimize the impact of the event, especially in the case of an acquaintance rape
  • Suggest in some way that brought this event upon themselves (e.g. ask them if they were drinking, what they were wearing, etc.)