Parents and Family
For Parents and Family
Sexual violence, relationship violence and stalking are issues that impact college campuses across the nation. Northwestern University acknowledges this reality and is proud to be proactively addressing sexual violence and supporting students on our campus.
As a parent, you can play an important role in promoting healthy sexuality and addressing sexual violence with your student. Parents and family members can help by:
Having ongoing dialogue about healthy sexuality that is in line with your values and appropriate to your student’s current choices. Encourage an open dialogue so that they can talk about their experiences on campus.
Understanding consent as it pertains to sexual violence. Not saying “no” is not the same as saying “yes.” Furthermore, if “no” is not an option (due to coercion, incapacitation or any other factor) then “yes” is meaningless.
Discuss Healthy Relationships
Discuss healthy relationships. Be open to having an honest conversation about relationships, communication, and possible warning signs of an unhealthy relationship.
Information about warning signs of an abusive relationship.
If your student discloses experiencing sexual violence, relationship violence or stalking, convey to them the following points:
- “I believe you.” Many survivors are met with doubt and disbelief. The healing process is aided when they are believed and supported by the people they tell.
- “This was not your fault.” Sexual violence is never the survivor’s fault. Despite this, survivors often blame themselves or are blamed by others for having been abused, stalked or assaulted. It is important to convey that no matter what they did, consumed, wore, or any other factor, the perpetrator made a choice to violate and is therefore the one at fault.
- “You have options.” Despite our best intentions, telling a survivor what to do (go to the police, get counseling, etc.) can hinder their healing process. It is important for survivors to be in the ‘driver’s seat’ and decide which options to pursue. Helping to provide resources while being nonjudgmental about the resources they use or do not use is a good way of being supportive.
Knowing Your Resources
If your student has questions about sexual violence, relationship violence, stalking or healthy sexuality, please refer them to CARE.
Support anti-violence efforts on campus and ask how you can help.
Knowing Support is Available for You
Whether you’re supporting a loved one or have been a victim of sexual violence yourself, it is important to take care of yourself. You can find support in your area by visiting RAINN.org or the National Domestic Violence Hotline.