Sexual Assault

The University Counseling Center is staffed by trained professionals who can provide specialized support and assistance. Students may seek counseling at any time, whether it is days, months, or years later. This confidential service is available to the victim and his or her friends who may need support in assisting a victim. Assistance is also available for individuals who are supporting someone through an incident of sexual assault.

Support Services for Victims of Rape and Sexual Assault at Notre Dame

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What is Sexual Assault?

Sexual assault is defined as any unwanted sexual activity forced by one person on another, including, but not limited to: stranger rape, forced sodomy, acquaintance rape, date rape, marital rape, gang rape, child sexual abuse, and incest.

How to support a friend who has been sexually assaulted:

  1. Let him or her know you believe that her or she has been hurt.
  2. Listen to his or her story.
  3. Provide comfort, (i.e., What can I do for you that would help?).
  4. Let him or her know that you don’t think he or she was at fault.
  5. Let him or her know that you want to make sure that he or she feels safe.
  6. Suggest to him or her that he or she contact a professional (i.e., medical, psychological).
  7. Help him or her organize his or her thoughts, but let him or her make the decisions.
  8. If you are his or her romantic partner, assure him or her of your love. As his or her partner, let him or her be the pace-setter in terms of physical expression of love.
  9. Ask yourself if your suggestions are meeting your needs more than his or hers.
  10. If you are struggling with anger, talk to someone about it, but don’t unleash it on him or her.

How to support a friend who has been accused:

  1. Listen to him or her to show that you understand how he or she can be upset.
  2. Encourage him or her to be selective about who to tell this to and what he or she says about it.
  3. Encourage him or her not to make contact with the accuser or accusers’ close friends.
  4. Let him or her know that he or she is going to need support throughout this process (i.e., legal proceedings, his or her own understanding of what happened).
  5. Suggest that he or she get professional help, (i.e., legal counseling and/or psychological counseling if formal charges are brought up against him or her), and be prepared to refer him or her to someone.
  6. Encourage him or her to express his or her feelings (i.e., especially any feelings of regret or remorse) with someone who is bound to maintain confidentiality.
  7. Do not ask questions that imply you think he or she did anything wrong or conversely that suggest you want to be his or her “defending” or “prosecuting” attorney.
  8. If after he or she tells you his or her story he or she asks you what you think, (and you think he or she is being rightfully accused), let him or her know that you think he or she is going to need an experienced professional to help him or her. If you think he or she is being wrongfully accused, encourage him or her to go to the counseling center for support while he or she goes through what may feel like a victimizing process.

Make an appointment with a counselor at the University Counseling Center, either for yourself or to consult about how to help a friend.

After Sexual Assault
The nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization. RAINN created and operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800.656.HOPE, y in partnership with more than 1,000 local sexual assault service providers across the country and operates the DoD Safe Helpline for the Department of Defense. RAINN also carries out programs to prevent sexual violence, help survivors, and ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice.