U-M Counseling and Psychological Services

Post it note written by student

“When it comes to sexual assault if it matters to you, it matters to us”

CAPS works closely with SAPAC and other units to deliver a campus wide approach to supporting students who are survivors of sexualized violence.  The unique role of CAPS is to support the campus wide education activities, and then to deliver confidential clinical support via individual counseling, crisis intervention, and group counseling options.

What is sexual assault?

Although there are many different definitions of sexual assault...the Sexual Misconduct Policy located HERE, may help.

Regardless of the definition, if it matters to you, it matters to us. Your experience doesn't have to fit a definition for you to seek services around this.

A sexual assault occurs when a person experiences a sexual act or acts against their will. If someone is too intoxicated to consent, the act is still sexual assault. Sexual assault can be called a number of things (e.g. rape, incest, molestation, etc.), depending on what occurred and who is defining it. It's important to acknowledge that experiencing a sexual assault is not your fault.

What should I do if I've had an unwanted sexual experience?

You are not alone, and sexual assault is never your fault. Regardless of how much time has passed since the sexual assault, help is available. The emotional impact of sexual assault is unique for each individual. Many survivors find it helpful to talk to someone who is trained to understand and assist survivors of sexual assault.

Get to a safe place and consider your next step. If the assault happened recently, you may be making decisions about who to tell, and struggling with your medical and legal decisions. Some options include: calling the police (9-1-1), going to the hospital, telling a friend or support person and/or calling SAPAC 24-hour Crisis Line: (734) 936-3333 or CAPS After Hours 734-764-8312. Keep in mind that SAPAC and CAPS are two confidential resources and do not have to report to the Office of Institutional Equity (OIE).

  • CAPS:  Find more information regarding when you can be seen HERE

  • SAPAC: Find more information (hours, 24-hour Crisis Line, location) HERE

  • Find more information on a Peer led support group HERE

How to Help a Sexual Assault Survivor:

  • Keep telling survivors that it is not their fault.
    Never blame the survivor. Don't let them blame themselves. Sexual assault is never the survivors' fault, under any circumstances.
  • Tell the survivors that their survival is all that really matters.
    It will be reassuring for survivors to hear that what is most important is that they survived and got through the experience as best they could. Questions like "Why did you go there alone?" are blaming, not reassuring.
  • Assure survivors that you believe that they were sexually assaulted.
    If you communicate that you believe them, you will be helping survivors a great deal. If they say they were sexually assaulted, then that is enough even if they didn't scream or there was no evidence of harm.
  • Tell survivors that you will support them by listening.
    Be supportive by listening, not judging or prying. Let them take their time to share the details. Let them share only what they are able to.
  • Ask survivors what they need from you instead of telling them how to handle the situation.
    Let survivors be in control of who to tell about the assault, and how they manage their life. This will help them feel that they are regaining the control they lost by being victimized.
  • Tell survivors that it is okay to talk about their feelings for as long as they need.
    It is normal for survivors to feel angry, afraid, anxious and depressed. If these feelings intensify and continue to overwhelm them and they are not getting help, support them in getting help.