Tips for Parents and Caregivers

If you have learned that your student has been assaulted, it is likely you are experiencing any number of feelings. You may feel that your worst nightmare has come true, and you may be unsure how to support him/her. Overwhelming feelings of confusion, anger, sadness, guilt, fear or even numbness are common reactions. It is important that you get support for yourself through this time because it is often emotionally and physically taxing on a parent or caregiver. Here are some suggestions to consider when supporting your student through this difficult time:

  • Believe your student – you may go into shock, but trust and tell them you believe them.
  • Ask what they need instead of assuming.
  • Do not minimize or try to fix what happened.
  • Do not be critical or become an investigator. (e.g., “Why did you drink?”)
  • Do not be intrusive – avoid pushing for details about the assault that your student may not be ready to talk about. If they set boundaries, respect them.
  • Educate yourself on resources including professional help and support groups.
  • Offer to accompany your student to their first counseling appointment.
  • Try to maintain your composure and seek your own support or professional help as needed.
  • Let them know that it is their information to share and that you will not tell anyone about the assault without their permission.
  • Aid them in making their own decision regarding reporting. Let them know if they do decide to report, you are there to support them through the process.
  • When speaking to your student, be mindful of stereotyping or stigmatizing them for what they have experienced.

Please contact RSVP at (213) 740-4900 if you have any further questions regarding how to help your loved one.

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