Sexual assault happens everywhere, but statistics show it is especially common on college campuses.
Since 2017, Brigham Young University has changed their policies on how the school handles sexual assault cases, including adopting an amnesty clause for victims who may have been in violation of the school’s Honor Code. BYU is owned and operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Campus officials said reporting among students has sharply increased since those changes were implemented.
Tiffany Turley is a Title IX Coordinator at BYU. She said before the university changed their policy students were afraid to come forward to school authorities or police. In fact, a 2017 Campus Climate Survey found two out of three victims of sexual assault at BYU report the incident first to a friend, family member or roommate.
Turley hopes the resources that have been made available to students will empower them.
How can families (or friends) best react if they learn their loved one has been sexually assaulted?
- Keep your response simple and focused on them – “Thank you for sharing this with me. Clearly you are strong and courageous. What can I do to help?”
- Provide support – recognize that sometimes support means providing resources and other times it means simply listening
- Avoid judgment
- Try not to ask questions
- Avoid misinterpreting someone’s response or reaction to the incident – everyone reacts in different ways and there is no right or wrong response when it comes to trauma
- Check in periodically (and appropriately)
- Remember there is no timetable for healing and recovery
- Know the resources