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Traumatic Experiences
216
The perpetrator is most likely to be someone known to the
victim: a fellow student, someone with a romantic interest,
an RA, a friend, etc. Ninety percent of sexual assault victims
on campus are women violated by men. Men who are
sexually assaulted are most often victimized by other men
(but sometimes by women) who are partners, friends, or
even as a result of hazing or other peer rituals or pranks.
The student who is sexually assaulted requires some special
consideration. This kind of trauma can affect students in
many different ways, including difficulties with concentration
and study, emotional flashbacks, feelings of powerlessness or
lack of control, bouts of sadness, sleeplessness and
nightmares and/or requiring time away from academics due
to judicial or criminal action.
It is not uncommon for victims to remain silent about sexual
assault, often hoping that the emotional pain will just go
away and hoping that if they don’t tell anyone, “it didn’t
happen.” Most do not seek criminal or judicial action, fearing
that they will be condemned for their behavior (such as
drinking or dancing) or their judgments will be criticized. Too
many victims’ testimonies are questioned or not believed,
which contributes to the silence that victims endure.
If a student discloses the assault to you, a sensitive response
will help her or him heal more quickly. Students do not lie
about being assaulted. So, if a student tells you about an
incident, it shows s/he trusts you. Open- ended questions
such as “How can I help?” or “What do you need?” will