Sexual Assault & Interpersonal Violence
Common Reactions a Survivor may Experience
Interpersonal violence can be traumatic and terrifying. It is common for a survivor to feel overwhelmed by emotions, to appear completely shut down, or to be anywhere in-between. It is important to recognize that whatever you are feeling right now is a normal response to what happened and acts of interpersonal violence are never the survivor’s fault.
Some common symptoms that survivors may experience include:
- Re-experiencing the event or events, either through flashbacks or nightmares
- Feeling overly alert to threats or seeing danger everywhere
- Being jumpy or more easily startled
- Feeling anxious, guilty, ashamed, sad, hopeless, angry, irritable, numb, confused, or any other emotional reaction
- Being afraid to be alone or isolating from others
- Mistrusting others
- Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
- Difficulty eating or eating too much
- Headaches, tension or pain in other areas of the body
- Difficulty concentrating or focusing
- Feeling disconnected with yourself
- Thinking about suicide
Appointments at the Counseling Center are confidential, and you are not required to report the act of interpersonal violence if you seek counseling. Your counselor will help you talk about and manage your feelings and help you decide what will help you recover from this traumatic event. It is never too late to seek help, even if the incident happened a long time ago.
Our therapists are skilled at working with survivors of interpersonal violence. We also work closely with numerous counseling providers in the community who have expertise in this area as well. If you are interested in checking out our services or getting established with a community provider please come to the center to get set up with an appointment. If you are experiencing a mental health emergency please call 919.515.2423 and select the option to speak with an emergency counselor.
- Main office 919.515.2012
- 24 hr Relationship and Sexual Violence Phone (RSVP) Line 919.618.RAPE(7273)
- Provides advocacy and support. They also have multiple resources that can help you no matter where you are in your path of healing. Together with the Counseling Center, the Women’s Center offers the RSVP crisis Line for all interpersonal violence survivors.
- Main office 919.515.3000
- Emergency 911
- Can provide assistance from a law enforcement perspective including reporting and investigating the crime. They have individuals who are specially trained to work with cases of rape and sexual assault.
- 919.515.7304 (Student Health Services) and 919.515.2563 (Women’s Health)
- Medical attention that does not involve concern for prosecution may be received within regular business hours. They can provide physical exams, emergency contraception pills and test for sexually transmitted diseases and infections. They do not offer forensic medical exams for evidence collection in sexual assault cases.
- If you would like legal advice, Student Legal Services can inform you of your options. They may also be able to guide and accompany you through pursuing you case through the legal system. They have some limitations to what they can provide if the perpetrator is another NC State student, but can still offer information and referrals.
- Students who report allegations of sexual misconduct may utilize the University conduct process in addition to or instead of any legal options that may also exist. While the University encourages individuals to participate in the conduct process, students may seek information from the Office of Student Conduct regarding their options knowing that they will not be required to participate in any conduct process.
- Can provide accommodations including: The imposition of a no contact order, class schedule changes, University Housing room assignment changes, and others depending on need.
- Can help you outline the steps you may need to take to resolve your concern and will investigate your concern to ensure it is appropriate addressed.
- Residence Advisors, Residence Directors, and assistant directors of Housing are trained to assist survivors. They can help you get connected with resources on or off campus and can support you with requests for room changes or other housing concerns.
- Understands the unique needs and circumstances of GLBT-identified survivors and can provide support and resources.
- Understands the influence of culture on an individual’s experience. Can provide support and resources for all survivors.
- Interfaith organization that can provide support and resources to interpersonal violence survivors. They have a Chaplain “on-call” who is able to respond and provide a supportive presence for interpersonal violence survivors.
- Main office 919.828.7501
- 24 hr Domestic Violence Crisis line 919.828.7740
- 24 hr Sexual Assault Crisis line 919.828.3005
- Offers crisis counseling, information, assistance with shelter, emotional support, advocacy, court assistance, and referrals to other agencies as needed. They can also assist with paperwork for domestic violence protective orders and criminal charges. They have groups for survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence. They also provide 24 hour crisis lines for interpersonal violence survivors and offers forensic medical exams for sexual assault survivors via the Solace Center.
- Offers 24 hour services for survivors who are needing medical attention and offers specific care for sexual assault survivors through the Sexual Assault Forensic Examination (SAFE) Center. They can provide forensic medical exams if a sexual assault survivor is considering pursuing legal options. They can also provide emergency contraception pills and test for sexually transmitted diseases and infections.
- Wake County D.A. Victims Services 919.792.5000
- Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) 1.800.656.HOPE
- North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault 919.871.1015
- National Sexual Violence Resource Center 717.909.0710 or 877.739.3895 (Toll Free)
What is Sexual Assault?
Sexual assault and sexual violence are general terms that describe acts of unwanted sexual contact. According to NC State’s Title IX website, sexual violence is defined as sexual contact without consent, for example, rape, sodomy (oral or anal sex), sexual battery (e.g. grabbing breasts, buttocks, private areas, forcible fondling). One in five women will experience sexual assault or attempted sexual assault during her time in college. One in six men experience sexual violence in their lifetime. In the majority of cases that are reported at NC State, the offender is someone the victim knows; frequently alcohol is involved as a perpetration method.
Thoughts or Reactions You May Experience After a Sexual Assault
Many sexual violence survivors feel ashamed and may blame themselves for what happened. They may think that they could have done something to prevent it and may feel guilty for not stopping it. One of the most important things to know is that it’s not your fault. The responsibility for the assault lies with the perpetrator and is never the survivor’s fault.
Being sexually assaulted is traumatic. Our bodies respond to traumatic situations in one of three ways: fight, flight, or freeze. During a sexual assault the freeze response is very common. It is also the response that often contributes to feelings of guilt. The survivor may say, “Why didn’t I fight back,” or “It’s my fault because I let it happen.” Again, it is important to remember that it is not your fault. You were completely overwhelmed at the time of the assault and your body may have responded by shutting itself down. Your mind may have been actively trying to process what was happening or it may have shut down as well. These physical responses are often your body’s attempt to protect itself and are based on biological mechanisms that are often beyond our control in the moment. In any case, this shut down is a normal response to a threat.
What is Sexual Harassment?
According to NC State’s Policies, Regulations, and Rules website, sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, statements, requests for favors, or other verbal or physical conduct that creates a quid pro quo situation or a hostile environment.
A quid pro quo situation occurs when submission to or rejections of an individual’s sexual advances or requests is used as the basis for employment or academic decisions. When an individual believes that submitting to an unwelcome advance or request in order to avoid an adverse consequence. A hostile environment occurs when unwelcome sexual advance, statements, requests, or other acts of sexual conduct deny or limit a student’s ability to participate in or benefit from NC State’s programs or activities or create an intimidating, threatening or abusive environment.
What is Relationship Violence?
According to NC State’s Title IX website, relationship violence is a term includes both domestic or dating violence. Relationship violence happens when one person in an intimate relationship uses abuse to maintain power over a partner. Abusive behaviors can be physical or emotional, examples include threats of self-harm or harm to others (e.g. a text saying “If you leave me I will kill myself”), name calling, belittling, isolation, forcing to engage in sexual acts while in a dating or domestic relationship when one of the individuals does not wish to.
Thoughts or Reactions You May Experience When in an Abusive Relationship
Many survivors of relationship violence may be afraid to leave the relationship, may not be financially able to get out, may worry about others judging them, or may find it difficult to leave because they love their partner. The dynamics of power and control present in these relationships often leave survivors feeling like the problems in the relationship are their fault because they are the ones who provoke their partner’s violence. It is important to remember that relationship violence is never the fault of the survivor. We also know that other forms of interpersonal violence may also be present in the relationship. Often times a survivor may experience sexual assault, verbal or physical abuse, and/or stalking at the hands of their abusive partner. If you are experiencing these any of these forms of abuse in your relationship, the Counseling Center can help. We do know that relationship violence can escalate quickly and can be a difficult cycle to break. We will not pressure you to leave your relationship, but will explore all of your concerns and discuss your options with you.
What is Stalking?
According to NC State’s Title IX website, stalking is defined as causing fear in someone by willfully and repeatedly harassing them. Stalking can occur in many forms. Examples of stalking include, but are not limited to: Waiting outside of one’s class, the gym, grocery store, harassing via social media and text messages. Those experiencing stalking may make changes in their lives in an attempt to avoid the perpetrator. Stalking cases have the potential to escalate quickly, especially if there was a previous perceived relationship.