Information | Office of Violence Prevention

Learn terms and definitions, how to help a friend, and the potential impact of experiencing a traumatic event.


Understanding the basics of violence, how to help a friend and the impact you can make.

  • Sexual Assault
    • Sexual assault refers to sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the survivor. Some forms of sexual assault include: rape, attempted rape, fondling or unwanted sexual touching and forcing a survivor to perform sexual acts, such as oral sex or penetrating the perpetrator’s body.
  • Stalking
    • Stalking is when a person partakes in any repeated and unwanted contact directed at a specific individual that makes them feel uncomfortable or makes them fear for their safety or the safety of others.
  • Dating Violence
    • Dating violence is a pattern of assaultive and controlling behaviors that one person uses against another in order to gain or maintain power and control in the relationship. The abuser intentionally behaves in ways that cause fear, degradation and humiliation to control the other person. Forms of abuse can be physical, sexual, emotional and psychological.
  • Domestic Violence
    • Domestic violence occurs when a person uses physical aggression, coercion, threats, intimidation, isolation, stalking, emotional abuse, sexual abuse or economic abuse to gain or maintain power and control over another person in a domestic or romantic relationship. This includes, but is not limited to, any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure or wound someone. Domestic violence can be a single act or a pattern of behavior in relationships which could include individuals who are currently or formerly married or in a domestic partnership, currently or formerly dating, currently or formerly living together, currently or formerly in a caregiver relationship, have a child in common or are a family member.

How to Help a Friend

  • Do
    • Believe them
    • Ask what they need
    • Encourage them to seek help
    • Provide resources
    • Continue to support
    • Take care of yourself
  • Don’t
    • Decide what is best for them or tell them what to do
    • Pass judgment or cast doubt
    • Ask victim-blaming questions (such as “Were you drinking?” or “What were you wearing?”)
  • Continue To Support
    • Ask what they need. Empower the individual by exploring the options they feel most comfortable pursuing. 
    • If someone shares information with you-do not share publicly. 
    • Touching or hugging can be triggering for a survivor-always ask permission prior to doing so. 
    • Practice self-care activities with them
    • Privately check in with them from time to time.
    • Respect their wishes with how they choose to deal with their recovery
    • Check in with them occasionally
    • Practice self-care activities with them
    • Educate yourself about sexual assault

Potential Impact

Survivors who have experienced a traumatic event may begin to experience emotional or physical reactions. The aftershocks may appear immediately, or within days, weeks, months, or years after the traumatic event.

These symptoms may last a few days, weeks, months and, occasionally, longer, depending on the severity of the traumatic event. Being aware of these responses can help you know what to expect and help you support a survivor. Consider meeting a counselor who has specialized training in helping people who have experienced gender-based violence and sexual misconduct or supporting their loved ones who have experienced it.

The following physical, mental and emotional reactions are common after experiencing trauma. This, however, is not a complete or exhaustive list.

  • Depression
  • Sleep disturbances
  • PTSD symptoms
  • Anxiety
  • Shame
  • Guilt
  • Denial
  • Trust
  • Safety
  • Isolation and withdrawal
  • Amnesia
  • Memory
  • Disordered eating
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Lack of control
  • Confusion
  • Sadness
  • Embarrassment 
Panoramic View of campus