Sexual misconduct, including sexual harassment, sexual assault, relationship violence, and stalking are prohibited and will not be tolerated by Wellesley. Wellesley is committed to providing a safe environment in which all students can thrive as they pursue their educational goals.

Giving Support for Anyone

As the parent, sibling, partner, or friend of someone who has experienced sexual misconduct (“secondary survivor”), you may feel anger, sadness, fear, confusion, or guilt—or you may feel none of these things. Everyone responds differently and is entitled to his or her own experience. You are also entitled to support as you support others.

Many people who experience sexual misconduct struggle with guilt or shame, and may blame themselves for what happened to them. Secondary survivors can play a key role in helping people place the blame squarely where it belongs: on the perpetrator alone. Validate the person’s trust in you by not questioning the decisions he or she made, or passing judgment on his or her choices.

Allow the person to share what he or she is willing to share, when he or she is willing to share it with you. It is normal for people who experience sexual misconduct to process their experiences incrementally to minimize the feeling of being overwhelmed. Reassure the person that you will be there whenever needed. Be patient and know that the recovery process can take time.

By assisting the person in exploring his or her options and allowing him or her to decide what you should do, you are empowering him or her and facilitating recovery. You need not have all the answers, but you can be a powerful resource by recommending sources who can answer specific questions. Respect the person’s choices regarding what services he or she does or does not want; doing so leaves the door open to come back to you for help later. Ask whether or how you should share information with other people, and then follow through.

Explore the many myths and assumptions about sexual misconduct that may interfere with a person’s recovery process. Understand what is helpful (and not helpful).

When someone you care about experiences sexual misconduct, there is likely to be an impact on you as well. You may find it helpful to talk with a support person as you navigate the role of “secondary survivor.” Doing so may help you to better support the person. This is also an opportunity to lead by example: Showing that self-care is important to you may help the person consider it a priority as well.

If you are concerned that someone is in immediate danger on campus, whether from another person or him- or herself, contact the Wellesley College Police Department at 781-283-5555 for emergency assistance at any time. If the person is off campus, call 911.

Giving Support for Faculty and Staff

If a Wellesley College community member discloses information about sexual misconduct to you please remember these guidelines.

Be compassionate. Listen, don’t judge, and avoid “why” questions. Ensure safety. Say upfront that you have to share the information with the Title IX coordinator.

Provide the resources and information available here and encourage the person to seek additional support.

Contact the Title IX coordinator, right away or fill in the report form. Refrain from sharing the information with others unless you need to as part of the College’s response.

Supporting Yourself

Each person reacts to sexual misconduct differently. There is no one right way to respond or any prescribed path through recovery. The following self-care tips can help students who have experienced sexual misconduct cope with any short- and long-term effects they may experience.

Share what you are willing to share when you are willing to share it with others. Be patient with yourself if you feel overwhelmed and need to take a step back. There are people at Wellesley who care and are ready to help when you are ready.

If there are time-sensitive medical or mental health concerns related to your experience, the Health Service and the Stone Center can provide sensitive, respectful care by providers who are trained in working with student survivors. They can also connect you with providers in the community for other services.

It is normal to experience disruption to your daily self-care practices after experiencing sexual misconduct. If you are unable to eat, sleep, or be physically active in the way that your body needs to feel healthy and well, consider speaking with a trained clinician or counselor.

Students who experience sexual misconduct may struggle with guilt or shame, or blame themselves for what happened to them. Think of how you would respond to someone else feeling that way, and treat yourself as kindly as you would treat anyone else. Remind yourself that only the perpetrator of sexual misconduct is responsible for his or her actions. Even if you made choices that placed you in a vulnerable position, that in no way makes it acceptable for someone to take advantage of that vulnerability.

If you feel comfortable engaging in activities or hobbies that bring you enjoyment or satisfaction, do it. Whether it is spending time with friends, journaling, running, meditating, petting a dog, praying, watching Netflix, or singing, give yourself permission to be present and have fun when you are ready.

Friends, family, partners, and other trusted persons may struggle with their own response to your experience. Surround yourself with support persons who are educated in or willing to learn about the dynamics of sexual misconduct, empower you to pursue recovery in the way that is right for you, respect your choices and your wishes, and make you feel safe. Your support system may include a counselor, a support group, or an online community of survivors.

If you are concerned that you are in immediate danger on campus, contact the Wellesley College Police Department at 781-283-5555 for emergency assistance at any time. When off campus, call 911.