To the Editor:
I am responding to the article “Not Consented, Not Reported” published on April 17, 2015 and to the anonymous account of a sexual assault survivor’s experience at the Counseling Center. As college counseling center psychologists, we are dedicated to providing all students with a safe and supportive environment in which they can freely share deeply personal experiences. Our priority in counseling survivors of sexual assault is to help them feel empowered and in control of their lives. During our first meeting with a survivor, we encourage her/him to identify their own goals for responding to the assault and help them identify strategies that feel right for them. Survivors often feel re-victimized when others invalidate or dismiss their experience because they incorrectly believe that alcohol use or prior consent to sex means that a sexual assault could not have occurred. These types of victim-blaming behaviors are in direct opposition to our professional practices and our knowledge of the law and college policy.
The Counseling Center provides individual counseling and crisis “walk-in” services, as well as a support group for survivors of sexual assault. All services are free and confidential. We do not report sexual assaults to anyone without a student’s consent, including law enforcement and college officials. The staff are dedicated to helping students thrive during their college years, and we welcome student input on how we can enhance our services. We hope that all students use counseling services will feel free to provide their counselor with constructive feedback if they feel their needs can be met more effectively or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Karen Forbes, PhD
Director of the Counseling Center