What will I get out of going to
Experiencing a sexual assault, being in an
abusive relationship and being stalked are major stressors and
can significantly impact your life and how you may begin to
think about yourself and respond to different relationships and
situations. Seeking counseling can help you to sort out your feelings about
the event(s), assist you in making decisions about what you
would like to do next and help you begin the healing process.
I was sexually assaulted and/or
sexually abused as a child. Will I have to talk about what happened
to me right away? I don't think I can talk about it.
This is a common concern of many men and
women who have experienced sexual assault that decide to come in
for counseling. In your intake
appointment, you will be asked basic information about the
assault such as your age when it occurred, duration and your relationship
to the perpetrator. You will not have to tell the entire story
of what happened in the first session. Sessions will go at your pace. Your
counselor will, however, ask questions to obtain information so that she
can provide the most appropriate treatment.
My partner is abusive, but I do not
want to break up. If I come to counseling, will the counselor
pressure me into leaving the relationship?
Our goal is to help students build
relationships that are free of violence, emotional abuse and
intimidation. While counselors are concerned about your
emotional and physical well-being, we cannot make you leave a
relationship. Counselors are also sensitive to the conflicting
emotions that students may experience as they contemplate ending
a relationship. The counselor will help you explore all of your
options and assist you in coming to a decision. In instances
where you are not ready to leave a relationship, the counselor
will help you identify ways that you can keep yourself safe.
I was not sexually assaulted, abused or
stalked; my friend/partner/roommate was - how can counseling
Providing support to a friend who
has been sexually assaulted, is in an abusive relationship or
being stalked is challenging. You may experience an increase in
your stress levels, changes in your relationship and, in cases
of sexual assault, your sense of safety in the world. Talking
with a counselor can help you sort out your feelings and help
you develop a plan for taking care of yourself as you support
your friend. Seeking counseling can help ensure that you do not
lose sight of your needs as you support your friend. Talking
with someone may be especially helpful if you have a history of
sexual violence, because sometimes hearing about someone
else's experience can bring forth unresolved feelings and
I was sexually abused a long time ago.
How will it help to talk about it now?
Whether the abuse happened when you were 2
months old or 18 years old, or somewhere in-between, a history of sexual abuse
can significantly affect the way that you see yourself, how you
view relationships, your trust in yourself and others and how you feel about
your body among other things. Many survivors report
feeling "different" and often mistakenly believe that they are
bad, damaged or unworthy. These beliefs are untrue and were
often planted by the perpetrator(s) to blame the survivor for
their behavior and prevent him/her from telling others
about the abuse. Breaking the silence is the first step in
the healing process. Counseling can help.
How long will it take to get over this?
Healing from the trauma of a sexual
assault is not a linear process. Many survivors of sexual
assault enter counseling with the expectation that a counselor
will tell them exactly what they need to do to move forward from
the abuse. Unfortunately, this is not a realistic expectation.
Given the uniqueness of each situation, there is not a
Making the decision to come to counseling is the first step in
the healing process. In collaboration with a counselor, a
survivor can explore his/her feelings about the abuse and move
forward in a safe and supportive environment.
Does the Counseling Center offer
groups for survivors of sexual assault?
Yes, as student needs warrant, the
Counseling Center offers groups therapy for survivors. Joining a group can be an empowering
and transformative experience for survivors of sexual assault.
First, it provides an opportunity to connect with other students
who have had a similar experience, provides an opportunity for
learning ways to cope with the aftermath of a sexual assault and
enables students to see people in various stages of the healing
process. There is an expectation that information that is shared
in the group will be kept confidential. If you would like to
join a group, please contact the Counseling Center at 410.543.6070.
My friend was sexually assaulted. She/He
needs to go to counseling. How can I make him/her go?
Your friend is fortunate to have someone
who is concerned about her/his emotional well-being. It is important
that your friend is in charge of whether or not s/he decides to
seek counseling at this time. When someone is sexually
assaulted, they lose their sense of power and control to make
decisions. One of the most important and supportive things a
friend can do is to provide the survivor with opportunities to
make choices. This means letting him or her decide when/if s/he
chooses to come to counseling. Provide your friend with
information about all of his or her options and available
resources and allow him or her to make the final decisions. For
example, you can direct them to this website, provide a
non-judgmental listening ear and consider counseling for
yourself as you support your friend.
Sexual violence, whether it's
relationship violence, stalking or sexual assault, is really hard to deal
with alone. Support is available.
Contact the Counseling
Center to schedule an appointment, if you have been
affected by issues of relationship violence, stalking or sexual
assault at 410.543.6070.