Clark Anti-Violence Education Program

Tips for Providing Support

The following information contains suggestions for how to respond when a student reports sexual and/or dating violence.

Responding effectively to student survivors

  • Always believe what your student is telling you. Demonstrate support. If you have concerns about your student’s work, contact the Dean of Students Office for advice.
  • Your student might be experiencing some residual fear and trauma. Try to normalize their help seeking. Validate any fears or ambivalence. Reassure your student that s/he is not to blame.
  • If the student requests confidentiality, you must tell them that, unless you would be acting in a clergy or counseling capacity, you must report the incident. You can reassure that student that you can do this reporting with their anonymity being preserved. Exceptions are if the student poses a risk for hurting themselves or someone else. Then you must call university police at 508-793-7575.
  • Assess whether your student’s personal safety needs are met. In addition, encourage the student to get medical attention if necessary (even if the incident took place a long time ago).
  • Be open with your student about the limits of your role in terms of how you can help. Provide your student with a list of resources (see below or visit and look at our extended list of on and off-campus resources).
  • Provide the student with a copy of the Resources, Rights, and Options for Victims of Sexual Offenses handout.

Common survivor reactions

  • Very often, the survivor cannot focus or concentrate on coursework.
  • A student who is assaulted may believe this trauma won't affect academic performance, which may delay disclosure of the assault until the student sees that her/his work is suffering.
  • A student may stay in denial about the assault until it is too late to make accommodations in the classroom. Even the most responsible student may skip class or work without notice.

Referring students for help

  • Collaborate with your student to identify options for referral. S/he can contact the below resources to speak confidentially with an advocate who can explain more about her/his options.
  • Discuss all of the potential options with your student, even if s/he does not wish to take action now.
  • For students who want to see the perpetrator held criminally accountable, the assault/incident should be reported to the police as soon as possible to preserve evidence.
  • For students who don’t want to press charges but want the perpetrator to be held accountable by Clark University, they should contact the Dean of Students Office.
  • Consider asking if your student is comfortable with you contacting her/him in a few days to see how s/he is doing. Remember not to leave any detailed/identifying information on a voicemail.

Recommended resources

  • CAVE/Office of Wellness and Prevention Education (508-421-3724; for information on survivor rights and options.
  • Counseling Center (508-793-7678) for confidential counseling and a review of other options.
  • Dean of Students (508-793-7423) to discuss housing, academic, & other options
  • Health Services (508-793-7467) for confidential health services.
  • Clark University Police (508-793-7575)
  • Daybreak Domestic Violence Services (24-hour hotline: 508-755-9030)
  • Pathways for Change (24-hour hotline: 800-870-5905)

Browse the rest of the site for more information and a more detailed list of resources.

This page was created for you by the Clark Anti-Violence Education (CAVE) program. Please email if you have any questions about its contents or any further questions.