srv: supporting survivors and cosurvivors

supporting a survivor

When you’re a co-survivor – a person supporting a survivor of SRV – remember that, whatever you may feel is the “right” thing to do, the best course of action is the one that feels safe and right to the survivor. Listen compassionately and without judgment, knowing that SRV is never the survivor’s fault!

Part of what makes recovery  following SRV challenging is that often the survivor’s freedom to choose what happens to their own body was taken away. So their support system can help by allowing them to have control over what happens next.

Remember too that many survivors of SRV experience the “freeze” stress response, so that instead of “fight or flight,” their body shuts down.  You might think of this as “going into shock.” It’s a survival response, and it’s a normal physiological reaction to a seriously threatening situation.

self-care as a survivor or cosurvivor

  1. Be kind to your body. Get some exercise. Get some sunlight. Get a hug. Get some sleep.  Hearts heal most efficiently when they’re beating in a healthy body.
  2. Be patient. Whether you’re addressing your own trauma or someone else’s, healing takes time. Everyone moves at a different pace toward recovery, and we don’t get to choose what that pace is. Healing happens gradually and in its own time.
  3. Ask for help. You don’t have to struggle alone. Smith is filled with people who  want you to be safe, happy, and successful. There’s a whole list of offices and phone numbers on the back page of this booklet.



srv: reporting and responding to violence

Smith College provides a wide range of resources to support students who experience SRV. We encourage our students to report all sexual harassment and sexual or relationship violence directly to the support team. All college employees who become aware of an incident of sexual misconduct will notify the appropriate college officials as identified below.

If you are in crisis, call the sexual assault hotline at Center for Women and Community (UMass, Amherst) 413 -545-0800 or  1-888-337-0800 or call Campus Police to take you to the emergency room (x800 or 413-585-2490).


 Campus Police

413-585-2490 or extension 800
Available 24 hours a day

LEGAL SUPPORT: Campus Police’s information on prosecuting: perpetrators of sexual violence: “Survivors are involved in all decisions about proceeding with criminal charges. If the survivor of a rape or sexual assault chooses to proceed in this manner, DPS will provide assistance and guidance and will serve as a liaison with the District Attorney’s Office. The survivor name in all reports of sexual assault is kept confidential, by Massachusetts law.”



Call 413-585-4940 or extension 4940 for the dean of students and student affairs; members of the staff are also available 24 hours a day through Campus Police. The Deans Offices can assist with:

  • Academic concerns
  • Changes in housing
  • Other accommodations and referrals

 ACADEMIC  and CO-CURRICULAR SUPPORT . Your class dean and the Dean of Students office  can assist in arranging accommodations for academic, residential,  and other domains of your life at Smith.


 Title IX Coordinator

Coordinates prompt and equitable responses to reports of sexual misconduct by eliminating the misconduct, preventing its occurrence and addressing the effects. Contact Larry Hunt at 413-585-2260 or extension 2260.


your privacy is a priority!

Smith will seek to maintain your privacy during the reporting process consistent with the college’s legal obligations and its commitment to providing an environment free from sexual and relationship violence.


Counseling Services

Counseling is free for all students, regardless of insurance. Call x2840 for appointments and services, or to talk to a counselor after hours (8pm-8am)

EMOTIONAL SUPPORT. Smith College Counseling Service, located in the Schacht Center for Health and Wellness, provides counseling for crisis and healing. Emotional support is a major part of the recovery process. Friends and family can contribute greatly to recovery, but sometimes an objective outsider can be an important support.


Health Services

All Health Services appointments are free, regardless of insurance plan. Open 8am-8pm MON-FRI.

To talk to a nurse during these hours, call x2813

To talk to a nurse after hours, call x1260

To make an appointment, call x2811

 MEDICAL SUPPORT. Medical evaluation is a valuable resource if a person is sexually assaulted. Smith students can go to Cooley Dickenson emergency room to be seen by a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner, who will provide preventive treatment for STIs, treat for injuries and illness, and provide emergency contraception, as well as collect evidence in case you decide to prosecute. It is up to the survivor whether or not to seek medical evaluation.



srv: sexual assault perpetrator behavior

When it comes to sexual assault and rape,  sometimes people think that it has to be a stranger hiding in a dark alley. But in fact the overwhelming majority of sexual assaults that happen to college students are committed by someone the survivor knows.

And the overwhelming majority of these assaults are committed by a very small number of people—less than 3% of the population. Research has found that these individuals show a predictable range of behaviors when attempting to perpetrate an assault.

For example, they may:

  • Seek out vulnerable individuals—younger, less experienced, more isolated
  • Separate them from the group, to get them alone
  • Encourage them to drink, giving them drinks with an unknown amount of alcohol in them
  • Attempt to build trust and push boundaries, so that the targeted individual will agree to small things, and then make them feel guilty for not agreeing to bigger things


Not all sexual assault follows this pattern. Some sexual assault happens in the context of a dating relationship. Some happens between strangers, using physical force and violence. Some happens because the perpetrator really doesn’t understand what consent it. But the pattern described above is what sexual violence often looks like.


When you notice these behaviors—i.e., when you see something not okay—do something. And “something” is anything that isn’t nothing: confront the situation directly; interrupt with a distraction; or delegate by telling someone what you’ve noticed.



srv: being “OnStandby”

At Smith, when we notice something not okay, we do something. And “something” is anything that isn’t nothing. Stepping up as a bystander is one of the most effective ways to prevent SRV, right after making sure you always get consent! 

If you notice something not okay, such as:

  • Aggressive or violent behavior
  • Attempts to get someone drunk in order to “hook up”
  • Attempts to physically separate a person, to get them alone
  • Someone continuing to touch, talk to, or be near another person, after that person has asked them to stop

Do something, such as the “3 D’s”:

  • DELEGATE. Find a friend of one of the two people and let them know the situation is uncool. Ask them to step in and help their friend. Or get a friend to step in with one person while you step in with the other.
  • BE DIRECT. Take one person aside and talk to them about anything – the party, their drink, your toenails. Or step between the two people to diffuse the situation – you can just say, “Hiya! What’s up?” or “What’s going on?” Your presence will help diffuse the situation.
  • DISTRACT. Knock on the door. Or just walk in. Better to interrupt a scene than standing around while someone is assaulted. Say, “Hey, we need you downstairs,” or, “Is everybody okay?” or anything to change the mood.

At Smith, we call this being “OnStandby.” You’ll see some community members wearing orange power buttons, which indicate that they’ve gone through a formal training on how to intervene safely and effectively when they witness the precursors of SRV. To learn more about this  program, email us or comment below!

onstandby button

Effective bystanders:

  • ARE FRIENDLY. A calm, friendly approach helps to de-escalate violence, whereas a more aggressive approach could potentially escalate the situation. Also, being friendly will decrease any awkwardness you might feel. You’re not confronting, you’re just checking in.
  • CAN BE AS INTRUSIVE AS  NECESSARY. You’re making sure both people are safe. If the building were burning down, you’d break up the conversation or knock on the door, right?
  • STAY SAFE. The goal of being OnStandby is to reduce the risk of violence or harm, which means you should NEVER put yourself in harm’s war. Getting hurt yourself would defeat the purposes. Only step forward when it is safe to do so.
  • ASK FOR HELP. The Smith community is dedicated to creating safe communities—which means we’re all here to help each other. If you don’t feel comfortable stepping forward, just let someone else—your Res Life staff or other house leader, Campus Police, or even just a friend of yours— know what feels not okay to you.


srv: consent

One of the most important topics when it comes to sex and relationship violence is CONSENT.

Consent is an explicitly communicated, reversible, mutual agreement made when all parties are capable of making that decision.

The “YES!” may or may not be verbal, but it has to be unambiguous and voluntary.

When thinking about consent, there’s two questions you should ask:

  • Does the person want to give consent?  
  • Is the person capable of giving consent?

If the answer to either of those question is anything but a resounding yes, you do not have consent. If you’re not sure if you have consent: ask!

 Sex without consent is sexual assault, no matter what preexisting relationship you have with someone.

Sex with consent is the low bar, the minimum standard.

Sex with enthusiastic consent is the gold standard! Enthusiastic consent isn’t just a “Yes,” it’s a “Yes, please, now, yes!”

It’s not just willingness to have sex but wanting to have sex.

Almost no one is interested in having sex with someone who doesn’t  want to have sex with them; most of us want our partner to be more than just “willing” to have sex with us, we want them to want to have sex with us!

For some people, that wanting begins long before any sexual contact happens, and they want all different kinds of sexual contact.

For other people, the wanting comes along more gradually. They may be enthusiastic to hold hands or make out or cuddle, but not to do anything else. Their enthusiasm for other kinds of sexual contact may emerge gradually as they become more aroused… or it might not.

If you only engage in behaviors that both people are enthusiastic about, you can’t go wrong.

One more thing about consent:

Sex and love can both be fun, beautiful experiences. They can also be risky, unwelcome, and confusing. They can even be all of those things at the same time. That’s why ambivalence is normal.

But ambivalence—both yes and no—is not consent. “Maybe” means “no.” “Maybe” means wait, and stick with the things you’re both unambivalently enthusiastic about.

consent IS… consent IS NOT…
An active, ongoing “yes!” between people who want to engage in sexual activity The absence of a “no”. Just because someone does not say “no” does not mean they are saying “yes!”
Communicating every step of the way, every time Implied or assumed, even in a relationship. Saying “yes!” in the past does not mean “yes!” in the future
100% voluntary When someone is coerced, pressured, forced, or threatened
Sober, between adults Given by someone who doesn’t have the mental or physical capacity to give it (e.g., under the influence of alcohol
Everyone involved has willingly agreed on what to do Silence, passivity, or lack of active response
When everyone involved can freely express their needs and wants without being scared of their partners’ reaction Definitive. Just because someone has said “yes” does not they can’t also say “no” at any given time