9 Things Colleges Do to Help Sexual Violence Survivors

How to Help Sexual Violence Survivors

Posted on 29 December 2015 |

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It Starts with Training

helping sexual violence survivorsTitle IX requires that employees handling complaints are trained on recognizing sexual harassment and violence. Specifically, they should know:

  • The definition of consent in sexual relationships (this often differs by state)
  • Instructions and timelines for reporting sex offenses
  • Guidelines for bystander intervention
  • Risk reduction strategies

Training isn’t just for Title IX coordinators—faculty, campus police, student employees, health care staff, coaches and even parents should also be trained.

This way, the police aren’t the only ones that can take action—colleges and universities can offer many different resources to help sexual violence survivors. In some cases, they can even offer additional support and courses of action that police cannot.

So, let’s go over some of the ways schools are able to help help survivors of sexual violence.

1. Provide Medical Care

If a student has been sexually assaulted, oftentimes they can access medical care right on campus. Trained health care providers can attend to any physical injuries along with preserving possible evidence, in case the student must to press charges.

2. Make Counseling Services Available

Physical injuries aren’t the only thing that can follow a sexual assault. Many times the traumatic events require mental health care as well. Schools make counseling services more readily available and affordable to students that need this type of care.

3. Assist with Legal Filings

After experiencing sexual violence, it’s understandable that students might not always understand their legal options. Some schools offer students access to trained professionals that can help survivors navigate the legal system.

4. Reschedule Tests and Due Dates

The last thing a student that’s been sexually assaulted wants to think about is the test coming up next week, and they don’t necessarily have to, because schools can easily reschedule tests and due dates for papers or projects.

5. Change Class Schedules

If a student that’s been sexually assaulted is feeling uncomfortable because of other people in their class—for example, if the person who assaulted them is is also in their class—the school can make arrangements for class schedules to be changed.

6. Offer Alternate Housing

The same holds true for housing—if the survivor lives in the same dorm as the person who committed the assault, the school can offer alternate housing.

7. Investigate and Take Action

A police investigation and the school’s investigation are similar, but they’re also different. Schools are investigating Title IX violations, not violations of criminal law. Schools also enact disciplinary actions like suspensions and expulsion rather than criminal punishments like jail time.

8. Produce Campus Climate Surveys

These days, many higher education campuses are producing campus climate surveys. These surveys report on the prevalence of campus sexual violence. Additionally, they tell how well everyone on campus perceives the school is handling sexual violence cases, which also helps in developing prevention programs.

9. Enact Additional Prevention Programs

Unfortunately, change in higher education can be slow, and sometimes it only happens after things go wrong. The good news is that schools all over the country are stepping up to offer new sexual violence prevention programs, showing renewed committed to changing the mistakes of the past.


From major things like providing health care and conducting investigations to smaller things like offering class changes and rescheduling tests, there are plenty of ways colleges are able to help survivors of sexual violence. While they haven’t always been perfect, these days colleges are making it a priority to help support survivors any way they can.

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