PARC holds bystander training

October 11, 2019

The Brandeis Prevention, Advocacy and Resource Center (PARC) held a discussion of the proper ways to respond when someone shares their experience with sexual assault on Tuesday, Oct. 8. 

Only 3.7 percent of undergraduates and 9.4 percent of graduates who experienced sexual assault reported it, according to the 2015 Brandeis Campus Climate Survey. The PARC presentation looked at some of the potential reasons survivors would choose not to report. 

The first reason the presenters listed was that survivors didn’t think their experiences were “serious enough.” The PARC presenters made it clear that all experiences that raise feelings of discomfort are serious enough to report. Another potential reason given in the presentation was if the survivor felt responsible for what happened; they questioned if they ever truly said “no” or if they should have been at that party or wearing that outfit. Survivors being in the same social circle as the perpetrator is often an additional reason not to report it, said the presenters. The final reason was because they are afraid of not being believed. It is often hard to find physical proof of sexual assault, since one relies on testimony from the parties involved. The presenters stressed that those who come into their office are always believed. 

According to the presentation, only 2 to 8 percent of sexual assaults reported are fake, a similar statistic to other serious crimes such as arson. 

The PARC presentation dove into the problem of victim blaming, or when people focus on ways that the victim could have prevented the situation instead of putting the full blame on the assaulter. The presenters argued that there is a lack of understanding for survivors amongst the general population, giving the example of someone questioning, “are you sure that’s what happened?” 

They mentioned the common response of feeling protective of the survivor, but making things worse in trying to help. This type of response includes statements like, “you shouldn’t have been there!” Rather than blaming the perpetrator for committing the act, this actually blames the survivor for their choices, said the presenters. 

According to the presentation, another common response is to try to distance oneself from the situation to maintain a sense of personal safety. This method involves trying to give reason to the situation, acting like it could only happen under specific circumstances. 

PARC provided tips on what not to do if someone shares their experience: Do not ask questions, let them share what they feel comfortable discussing, do not minimize their experience or their feelings, do not make it about you, and do not try to tell them what to do, because everyone handles their trauma in their own way. According to the PARC slideshow, “trauma responses are normal responses to abnormal events.” 

Providing validation, supporting them, and kindly explaining the options of reporting are all responses PARC encouraged. The presenters emphasized validation the most, mentioning that just telling someone that they’re believed can have a huge positive impact. 

The presenters also mentioned that some types of leaders on this campus, including CAs and TAs, are responsible reporters, meaning that they have to write up a report on all cases of sexual assault. However, these reports are private, and only shared with supervisors. For those who wish to have absolutely no record of the incident, PARC will listen to stories and will not keep a formal record, with the exception of if they feel a student intends to harm themselves or others. 

The presenters mentioned that the campus police handle affairs which occur on campus or at the hands of Brandeis students. If the incident was not on campus or performed by a current Brandeis student, the presenters made it clear that it is best to contact the Waltham police first. 

The Brandeis police also can provide either a No Contact Order (NCO) or a No Trespass Order. According to the Brandeis Rights and Responsibilities handbook, “NCOs state that a student is restricted from contact with a named individual(s) through verbal, physical or electronic means or via third parties.” 

The PARC presenters said that a No Trespass Order can only be issued against someone who is not a student at Brandeis, and would ban them from entering campus.

This discussion was level two in PARC’s “Bystander Training” series and led by Peer Advocates Geraldine Bogard ’21 and Tanashya Batra ’21. 

PARC’s “Bystander Training” series has expanded to three different parts, opposed to previous years. This event was a level two in their series, “Supporting Those Impacted by Violence.” Bystander Level Three is “The Cycle of Violence.” 
Any students, staff or faculty on campus are able to sign up for these training on PARC’s website. The next event is “Level One: Foundations of Intervention” on Oct. 22 in the Gardner Jackson room of the Goldfarb Mezzanine.

The Brandeis Prevention, Advocacy and Resource Center (PARC) held a discussion of the proper ways to respond when someone shares their experience with sexual assault on Tuesday, Oct. 8. 

Menu Title