What Should I do Now?
As a victim of sexual or relationship violence it can be hard to know what to do following the experience. Below are a list of options to consider but it is important that you choose what feels most comfortable to you. The most important first step is to recognize that the behavior is not your fault.
- Emotional support from someone you trust
It is not unusual for a victim to want to pretend the experience did not occur and to keep it a secret. However, we know that victims can begin the healing process more quickly when they can talk with someone they trust and get the emotional support they need. Please be aware that if you consider telling someone who is an employee of Shepherd they may be required to report some of the information you have shared. While other Shepherd employees are required to report some information, Shepherd Counseling Services is a confidential resource of emotional support for you (for an appointment call 304-876-5161; for students living on campus that wish to speak with someone after hours, you may utilize an RA to get in contact with a confidential source).
- Consider connecting with a victim advocate (SAVA)
A victim advocate can be a great resource for you throughout the healing process but especially right after the experience. An advocate can help you access the medical care you may need, help take steps to ensure your physical safety, explain your reporting options, and provide needed emotional support.
- Consider going to the emergency room if physical injuries are present
Berkeley County Medical Center in Martinsburg, WV has specially trained nurses to help address any injuries you may have and they can test for sexual transmitted infections or pregnancy. Please be aware there may be charges for this care. You can also choose to have a forensic exam and evidence collection in case you decide in the future to pursue criminal charges. You can decline any part of the exam and you have the option to have an advocate from Shenandoah Women’s Center with you. For more information about the Forensic Exam please follow this link.
- If you decide to not go to the emergency room you can see a nurse at Shepherd University Health Center
If you are not comfortable going to the emergency room please consider seeing a nurse at the Shepherd Health Center, who will keep all of your information confidential. They can treat minor injuries, test for sexually transmitted infections, test for pregnancy and can provide emergency contraception. They can also give prescriptions for antibiotics.
- Take steps to preserve evidence of the experience
Although you may not know what you want to do in terms of reporting the experience to law enforcement, you may want to preserve evidence so these options are available to you in the future.
- Take steps to ensure you feel as safe as possible
Please know that there are several steps the university can take to help you feel safe on campus following an experience. Sometimes the perpetrator of the experience also lives on campus or attends a class with you. A member of the Residence Life Staff or a victim advocate (SAVA)can help you with this step.
- Understand and consider your reporting options
You have the right to not report your experience, but you also have several on and off campus resources you can report to. To understand all of your choices and the level of confidentiality associated with each please follow this link: Reporting