Victim & Survivor Support & Advocacy
If you or someone you know has experienced sexual assault, sexual harassment, dating or relationship violence, stalking, or sexual exploitation, the University is committed to giving you the help and support you deserve. This page is focused primarily on dating, domestic, or relationship violence concerns given our current climate.
No matter the circumstances, you are not to blame. Give yourself permission to do what you need to do to take care of yourself. You are entitled to receive the full range of resources and support services the University has to offer including academic, employment, housing accommodations, medical care, emotional support, and advocacy services.
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Dating and Domestic Violence Support During COVID-19
Movement restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic have increased domestic abuse concerns worldwide. If you are concerned about the safety of yourself or someone else, we are here to help. Our offices are open and available to provide support. If you are in immediate danger, please call 911.
Understanding Mistreatment, Abuse, and Violence
Mistreatment, abuse, and violence take many forms. You do not need to be in a romantic or sexual relationship to experience unhealthy behaviors and abuse. Parents, siblings, and relatives can make you feel unsafe just like a spouse or romantic partner. If you feel as though you are experiencing mistreatment from the people you are sheltering in place with, please contact our offices for support. There are many terms used for these various types of abuse and mistreatment such as domestic violence, child abuse, intimate partner violence, and more. Below, you can review the University’s policy statements and definitions of such behavior to determine which best align with your experiences.
It is important to recognize that emotional, verbal, and economic abuse are part of the web of dating and domestic violence and can exist without the presence of physical abuse.
Not sure what the various types of abuse look like? This interactive guide from LoveIsRespect will provide you with information about the various forms of abuse including examples
- Domestic Violence
Domestic Violence includes crimes of violence committed against a victim by:
- a current or former spouse
- a person with whom the victim shares a child
- a person who is or has cohabited with the victim as a spouse
- a person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim
- any other person against whom the victim is protected under Pennsylvania’s domestic and family violence laws.
- Dating Violence
Violence committed by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim. The existence of such a relationship will be based on the reporting party’s statement and with consideration of the length and type of relationship and the frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship.
Finding a Safe Space
Finding a safe and confidential space to speak is important. Our offices are understanding, and offer flexible appointments to meet student’s needs. We can also help students brainstorm ways to access our services safely.
Protecting Victim Survivors
No matter when or where you are treated badly, Penn State is here to support you. Even if the abuser is not affiliated with the University, we are still able to help by providing critical resources including counseling, safety planning, academic accommodations, referrals to community resources, and more.
Supporting Victim Survivors
If you suspect a friend is in an unhealthy or abusive relationship, talk to them about it and remind them that you will be there if and when they need help to leave. Encourage them to engage in the following essential steps:
- Develop a safety plan
- Practice self-care
- Reach out to a support network of friends and family
Additionally, The National Network to End Domestic Violence has created a tip sheet to help individuals support friends and family members who may be experiencing domestic abuse during the COVID-19 pandemic. Remember, the Gender Equity Center can walk you or a friend through developing a personalized safety plan and self care plan.
- ReachOut Editions
- Anonymous resource guide proving Penn State specific information and a step-by-step guide to helpful resources for survivors at any point in their healing journey.
- Speak with someone immediately or link to additional resources for support, prevention, and advocacy.
- Special instructions: After downloading the app, select "U.S. Colleges and Universities and search for "Pennsylvania State University: University Park" You can then explore information specific to Penn State.
- Created by the One Love Foundation to provide individuals impacted by relationship abuse with resources and safety planning information.
- Password protected, free, and discreet assistance.
Private Messaging Apps
- End-to-end encryption means messages are unrecoverable and only you and the recipient can read those messages. Self-destruction functionality enables you to make your messages, photos, videos and files automatically disappear from both devices after a set amount of time or after they have been read or opened by the recipient.
- Messages cannot be forwarded. Deleting messages on your side of the conversation will remove them from the recipients' side as well.
- Send private individual and group chats and calls.
- End-to-end encryption means no third party can view the messages. This security is automatic without turning on any additional settings.
- Users receive a randomly generated ID, so messages and contacts are not shared with the app and a phone number, email, or other personal information is not required to used the app.
- Messages are protected against hackers and deleted after delivery.